Am I really just a middle grade author?

I write a wide variety of things…I’ve written picture books, novels for children, series fiction for children, nonfiction for children, magazine stories and articles (both for children and adults), educational materials for all age groups and reading levels, online content, book reviews, software reviews…I’ve even written character descriptions for a board game (aimed at adults rather than kids). But I am primarily a fiction author.

I like to think I can write fiction for all ages, but lately I’ve been wondering if that’s really true? I’ve wanted to write YA novels for a long time, but every time I attempt one, it comes out middle grade. Do You Know the Monkey Man was originally going to be a YA novel. Sam was 16 in my earliest draft. But just because I SAID she was 16 didn’t mean she really was. She sounded like a 13-year-old right from the start, so…that’s what she became. I started two YA novels in the last year…Do You Know the Monkey Man didn’t have to be a YA novel, but these other two novels really DO have to be YA because of the subject matter. Unfortunately, the characters don’t sound YA…and I know that…which is probably why I abandoned them both. And the science fiction mystery that I still need to revise and send back to my agent was also supposed to be YA, but again it became clear by the third chapter that no matter what I wanted it to be, it WAS middle grade.

Now I’m attempting to write a chapter book series proposal. I know the writing and the voice are appropriate for a chapter book, but I’m having trouble with subject matter again. Even though the series premise works for chapter book readers, the individual plots I’m coming up with are really middle grade plots. So now I’m trying to decide what to do about that. Should I turn the series into a middle grade series or should I scrap the plots I’ve already come up with and try harder to come up with chapter book appropriate plots?

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