I usually write fantasy, but I have a request for an old YA contemp about homeless teens. It’s been years since I touched it and it needs a lot of work, but the agent is really excited about it and I’d love to make it shine for her. The problem is, I don’t really know much about contemp. I’m not even sure where I should start reading comparable titles. I’d really love to find someone who is familiar with gritty, realistic YA contemp.
I tried to keep this story as authentic as possible (I wrote it after spending some time working with kids in crisis), so there is a lot of swearing and while not graphic, it deals with subjects like abuse, child prostitution, hunger and drug addiction.
Because I wrote this story from a very personal place, I’m having a hard time being subjective. My gut feeling is that I’m starting in the wrong place and I’m considering cutting the first five pages, but it’s already very short and I don’t want to lose too much. My biggest concerns are 1.) it’s too distant (too much telling & not an authentic YA voice) and 2.) I have too much backstory and it’s not engaging. Because this isn’t a genre I’m familiar with, I don’t know how it compares to other books like it.