Publishers Weekly did an article earlier this month pointing out what they view as “hot” in YA this year. Those themes included horror, mental illness, gender identity, and the apocalypse. Of course, these trends reflect what editors and agents believe will be popular. It really says nothing about what the reader may actually want. Getting a handle on the reader can be difficult because good statistics are not kept and predicting the future is always tough. But, is there a way to get a feel for what will interest teens of the future? Maybe.
Recently I watched an episode on Gaiam TV where Regina Meredith was interviewing an astrologer. I’ve been interested in astrology off and on since I was a teenager, but over the past year or so that interest has become more intense and I watch quite a few YOUTUBE astrologers as they explain what’s going on in a given month. It is fascinating and personal.
What resonated with me in this interview concerned the movement of Pluto and how these long transits (248 years to circle the zodiac) influence generations. With Pluto in a given sign anywhere from 11 to 32 years, it defines a whole generation. In a way, this is the opposite of personal because I share influences with everyone in my age group. As a writer for young people, this idea intrigues me. It especially drew me in as the astrologer talked about my adult children’s group (Pluto in Scorpio). He talked about the attraction for this group to pagan religions and pure philosophy. My daughter describes herself as pagan and my son is currently exploring nihilism and its intricacies. Further extrapolating, I thought- wow, this was the perfect market for Harry Potter. Some people think JK Rowling had a unique idea or that the books were exceptionally well done. But most of us realize that young wizards going off to school has been done before. Perhaps then, Pluto in Scorpio almost guaranteed Harry Potter would make publishing history.
The youngest of the children of the Pluto in Scorpio generation will turn twenty soon so as a children’s writer, I bid them farewell. My attention turns to the Pluto in Sagittarius (1995- 2008) group. This would be my target audience and astrology should help me see who these kids are. What are the characteristics of this generation?
Sagittarius rules religion, philosophy, long distance travel, and foreign countries. This generation should have a keen interest in these areas and Sagittarius has a can-do enthusiasm that Scorpio lacks. They value freedom, are easily bored, and may not be as well-grounded and realistic as some. If I were to try to predict what would appeal to the Pluto in Sagittarius generation in terms of books (and movies), I’d list novels with far away settings, diverse cultures, exciting plots, maybe some quirky humor. I’m not sure dystopia like Hunger Games and Divergent will continue to appeal. In fact, those dark, complex, and mature themes Publishers Weekly would have us believe will be hot, probably won’t be. Scorpio is all that, but Sagittarius is not! The Sags should be interested in religion and philosophy so perhaps visionary fiction will find its place. Time will reveal what this generation gravitates toward and what the next big blockbuster will be. I for one would not expect editors and agents to be able to see the next phenomenal success because they are looking to the past trying to recreate its success and it won’t be there. Just about the time we start to see how obvious it all should have been, the Pluto in Capricorn (2008-2024) kids will show up and we’ll be scratching our heads all over. But then Capricorn will reveal itself.