YA fiction: What is Romantasy?

Young Adult fiction has a vibrant range of popular genres that authors might choose from, with Romantasy titles currently topping the charts. Our Write a Young Adult Novel course director, Lee Weatherly, explores the many facets of this complex genre. 

Lee Weatherly
Lee Weatherly

A new genre is currently taking Young Adult (YA) readers by storm: Romantasy. If you think that sounds like a blend of romance and fantasy, you’re right!

In 2023 Romantasy was one of the publishing world’s hottest genres for YA and adult fiction alike, with sales of these titles increasing by 42 percent. Think star-crossed lovers divided by magical realms, or partners in crime fighting otherworldly forces – all while navigating the complexities of young love. 

The undisputed queen of Romantasy is Sarah J Maas, whose crossover titles have become a publishing phenomenon. Earlier this year, House of Flame and Shadow, the third title of her Crescent City series, became the third-fastest-selling fantasy novel in the UK since records began. And when it comes specifically to YA fiction, the trend is just as strong. YA authors such as Shelby Mahurin, Stephanie Garber, and Chloe Gong are gripping young readers’ imaginations with stories ranging from high fantasy, to witches, to magic in a 1920s setting – all with that swoon-worthy romance at their centre that defines the genre.

Ultimately, Romantasy not only provides a compelling backdrop for epic YA love stories, but allows a deep exploration of themes that resonate strongly with young readers, such as identity, courage, and belonging.

The trend shows no signs of slowing, so if you’re thinking about writing Romantasy, the time is definitely now.

Of course, YA isn’t just about Romantasy. Science fiction is gaining strength; dystopian is starting to sneak its way back; pulse-racing mysteries and thrillers continue to be popular. Insightful titles exploring the challenges of contemporary life – covering everything from mental health issues to romance to finding yourself, and sometimes even a mix of all three – have a perennial appeal. LGBTQIA+ titles abound, as do stories showcasing diversity in all its forms.

In short, the YA market seems to be on an exciting upswing at the moment, with a vibrant range of genres for writers to choose from.

Whatever genre you’re drawn to, writing compelling YA fiction requires a good understand of its unique aspects.

YA novels aren’t just adult fiction with younger characters – they have a distinctive feel which makes them highly accessible to teenage readers.

YA novels often explore themes of self-discovery, growth, and coming of age: preparing to embark into the world of adults by challenging authority and learning to speak up for what you believe in. A well-crafted YA novel requires skilful character development, a gripping plot, and a pace that keeps young readers engaged from beginning to end – all while maintaining an authentic, relatable voice. 

This is where a dedicated course on writing YA fiction can be invaluable. Write A Young Adult Novel is designed to guide you through the nuances of YA storytelling, from developing a compelling voice to structuring your plot for maximum impact, all with the teenage reader in mind. Whether you’re tempted to explore the amorous magical realms of Romantasy or something wholly different, our course gives you the tools to craft an unputdownable YA novel. In the rich world of YA fiction, the possibilities are limitless!

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Meet your Course Director

Lee Weatherly

Lee Weatherly

Lee Weatherly (L.A. Weatherly) has written more than 50 books for children and young adults, including the bestselling Angel series.

She is published in 20 different languages.

Awards for her work include the Sheffield Children’s Book Award, the Stockport Children’s Book Award and the Leeds Book Award; she was also shortlisted for the Edgar Allan Poe Award and the RoNA Award.

Passionate about guiding new writing talent, Lee works as a mentor, including for The WoMentoring Project and Gold Dust, and over 15 years has taught workshops and residential courses for Arvon, SCBWI and at Hay, Edinburgh and YALC festivals – she’s seen many of her former students go on to writing careers of their own.

Originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, Lee lives with her husband and cat in a rambling Victorian house in the Scottish Borders, where she one day hopes to run a writers’ retreat.

More about Lee Weatherly

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