I plan on writing a fantasy series at some point. Based on what I've read, my automatic assumption was that the protagonist of such a series would be a teenager, probably around the 17-18 year range. Now I'm not so sure.

Most stories which feature a YA protagonist are to some extent a 'coming of age' story (at least in my experience). I wish to avoid this, as there are other things in my story I would rather address than the generic 'coming of age' themes.

I also want the series to continue for an undetermined number of books (ignore for the moment the logistics of pulling off such a feat). That presents a problem with a YA protagonist, because at some point they stop being YA and become an adult. Unless they are an ageless immortal, which I don't want.

My final reason for considering an adult protagonist is this question which I asked a year ago. The answer to that question theorized that many YA books are 'shallow', mentioning deeper problems but never really addressing them. I definitely plan on addressing some of those 'deeper problems' in my fantasy series, so I'm wondering if an adult protagonist (and by extension an adult audience) would be better.

So it comes down to this: Is there any reason to make a fantasy series YA? Do YAs perhaps read fantasy where adults do not so much?

1 Answer 1


I don't think there is a strong commercial reason. YA with YA protagonists is a commercial audience, but note it is also an audience heavily influenced by parents, that want fantasy for their "coming of age" children that isn't too explicitly sexual, violent, bloody, etc.

I think an adult fantasy is fine. Basically all the Star Trek, Star Wars, Avatar, and other sci fi shows are fantasy. Lord of the Rings is explicitly so, so is the series Magicians (based on books) which is full of explicit sex and sexual acts, homosexuality and extreme acts of violence.

Even YA will read it, you haven't excluded them as an audience. They may or may not like it, but an adult audience will, and in the modern world (in America at least), within a few years of puberty (14 to 16) there is very little the YA boys and girls do not know about sex, drugs and murder. Any remotely interested can easily find free, explicit and uncensored video of any sexual act imaginable. The same goes for all acts of violence, and movies and TV no longer hesitate to present such scenes with enough realism to make OA (Old Adults) cringe.

Adults love fantasy, and in print, and the adult audience is far wider than the YA audience. Isn't something like Stephen King's The Stand or IT or Under the Dome or The Gunslinger all fantasy, with supernatural evil and magical elements and magical portals? I feel the same about Star Wars, Star Trek and Avatar; a thin shmear of science on a thick bread of supernatural spiritualism.

I personally would not worry. If you have a world and a character, trust that a good story trumps any category. If it is a compelling story, your publisher will find a shelf for it.

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