Those of you who know my friend Nikki, this is not who I'm talking about!
I have a character, an important character, in my manuscript named Nikki. I like her and I like what she brings to the story...but her presence has pushed my story into the realm, barely, of YA and that is making it difficult for me to imagine how this book would be received by any publisher. I hear they really want to know, "Where would this book go on a shelf in a bookstore?" I don't think they want to hear, "This is older-middle-grade-younger-YA."
If Nikki were to be Nick, and the sub-plot was allowing Brian to finally trust a friend for the first time in his life, I think the book would be solidly middle grade, even though the ending might be pushing things. But with Nikki in there and the attraction between her and Brian, even if it's not really acted on, I'm suddenly wondering if I need to up Brian's age to 15 and up the tension in areas to make it more YA. Yet in my heart, I think Brian's age is important to what he's wrestling with and that is is, truly, an upper-middle grade novel, if such a thing can exist.
I've also read there is a new genre developing, one that fits between middle grade and YA. I think this story fits right in there. I just don't know if that genre is going to bloom anytime soon! In the meantime, I've got to decide: Nikki...or Nick?