This post is cross-posted from the Romance Divas message board.
I like reading and writing YA. I think mostly it's because there wasn't a huge YA market when I was a YA so I didn't really get into reading them until I was in late high school/college. One of the reasons I like reading YA is because the pacing seems to be much faster. In high school I read a lot of historical romances and high fantasy and the pacing in those books started to seem really slow to me. I wanted to get to the "story" (or perhaps action is a better word) rather than slogging through pages of description and history. I know a lot of people really like that kind of stuff, but I just got really sick of it.
So when my friend lent me Christopher Pike's Last Vampire series (recently repackaged/retitled as Thirst), I couldn't put it down. It was the first vampire novel I read, probably the first YA novel I read, and I wanted more. Sometime in college I found Amelia Atwater-Rhodes' novels and have been a fan of hers ever since.
Occasionally, I like to read adult novels, but for a while I only liked reading about characters my age. One of the first adult novels I read outside of the historical romance Nd high fantasy I read in high school and the YA I started reading in college was Dime Store Magic by Kelley Armstrong. I was instantly hooked because the main character was 23, which happened to be how old I was at the time.
Now I'm not as picky about character age so much as my experiences while I was the main character's age. Like I can't get into most of the books about 30-something's who are still looking for love because I got married when I was 20. But I can relate to all the teen girls who are obsessing over their souk mates in YA fiction. There are times when I make exceptions, but mostly it'll be because I want to read about a certain type of character or I'm looking for books that are somewhat similar to my WIP. Also, most of the time a great character and a fast-paced plot will trump character age/experience. One example being the Queen Betsy series by MaryJanice Davidson.
I also like to write YA because I think that's the time where people go through the most changes in life. Especially at the age of 17 (which most of my characters happen to be), you're writing about someone who is practically an adult, wants to be an adult, but has none of the responsibilities of being an adult or even fully aware of what it means to be an adult. There's something about that dynamic that I'm drawn to as a reader and as a writer.