What’s so bad about middlebrow reading?

Someone recently asked me what I was writing and we had an interesting discussion about YA fiction. He had just seen The Scorch Trials (part 2 in The Maze Runner YA series), clearly didn’t like it and then asked me if I was after a bestseller. His implication being that it wouldn’t be very good if it was a bestseller and that it was better to aim for “high art”. But is all “good” art a niche experience? Does something have to be badly written to sell a ton?

I think it’s just about writing brilliant ideas that stick in people’s imaginations in an accessible way that makes them sell. And I think that’s what people buy. For every badly written Twilight, there is a Hunger Games (both rehashed ideas that other authors had been writing about for years; Stefanie Meyer updated Anne Rice‘s mythologies and Suzanne Collins merged Stephen King’s The Running Man with the great dystopian Japanese movie Battle Royale). But which is better? Neither can be defined as high-brow but there’s nothing wrong in writing a page-turner that people love, something this article from The Guardian agrees with. And as Twilight bears out, sometimes the idea is enough to sell it alone.


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