Hello? Hellooo? Oh great: the Romaniacs invite me onto their blog to talk about writing YA, and now they’ve all sloped off somewhere for coffee and left me to get on with it. And this place is an absolute tip; you’d think they’d have run a hoover and a damp cloth over it before I arrived, wouldn’t you?
Right, I’ll just have to interview myself, then.
Moves to head of table : So, Carol Hedges, Award Winning Blogger, writer of 11 published books, long listed Carnegie novelist, feisty redhead and Pink Customised 2CV owner, what is YA?
Moves back: Hard to say, Carol. If I was being flippant, I’d probably define it as: not enough s*x and swearing to be adult fiction, and too much to be children’s fiction. More seriously, I think it’s writing that deals with some of the life issues that face older teenagers, usually written in their voice and from their perspective.
Jigsaw Pieces, my new e-book is narrated by 18 year old Norwegian teenager Annie Skaerstad. Her issues involve establishing her identity as a young woman, and coming to terms with an ‘adult’ world that contains evil and exploitation and indifference.
I also cynically sometimes think that YA was invented by children’s publishers who needed a category to place books that didn’t fit into the accepted children’s canon but looked like they’d sell quite well. I often wonder if I’d sent the original manuscript to an ‘adult’ publisher, it’d have been published as Adult fiction, as so many novels that have youthful narrators are.
Moves: Can you tell us a bit more about YA?
And moves back: YA is a genre that crosses boundaries (that’s why it’s sometimes referred to as ‘crossover’). I believe 56% of books are read by adults – I like to think it’s because YA books have such strong characters and plots that they can seamlessly cross genres and appeal to any age group.
I was told by one of Jigsaw Pieces’ readers recently that they were completely unaware of its provenance, and were simply enjoying it as a novel, which I thought was a great comment. There’s far too much categorising of fiction nowadays. Personal gripe.
The genre doesn’t just relate to angst ridden yoof though; it also encompasses sci-fi, zombie fiction, paranormal, ‘dark fiction’ and the rest. A lot of us ‘YA fics’ meet up regularly on Twitter, in what I like to think of as a kind of cyberspace bus shelter, where we all hang out and strop happily.
Moves seat: So YA writers are really just tapping into some Inner Teenager?
Returns to former seat: Maybe. The best YA novels do seem to come from writers who are able to recall exactly what it was like to be 16 or 17. I’d be loth to say they’ve never grown up, but they seem to have their earlier selves on tap. It’s the one genre, unlike crime fiction or historical fiction, where the only way to research it is to explore within oneself.
Returns to head of table: And finally Carol Hedges, ace guest and all-round talented writer, what are you going to delight us all with next?
Slides back into seat: Well Carol, I’m currently working on a Victorian-lite crime novel called Diamond Girl. The Heroine is 17 (surprise!) and, having been rescued from the Bertha Helstone Institute for Orphaned Clergy Daughters, is orphaned again when her Uncle is murdered in a horrific midnight attack on Westminster Bridge. In his Will, she is left a massive Diamond, the Eye of the Khan, but as she soon discovers there are dark forces abroad who will stop at nothing to get hold of it. That’s all I’ m prepared to divulge at this stage.
Moves again: Wow! Sounds amazing. Well, thank you so much, Carol Hedges. You’ve been a great guest. We’ve learned a lot about YA, and we’re all going to download Jigsaw Pieces as soon as we can, and enjoy reading it on our Kindles, whatever age we are.
Ah, I can hear footsteps. Looks like the Romaniacs are returning. I hope they’ve got me a coffee. And a big piece of cake. Or I shall have to graffiti ‘Caz Woz ‘Ere’ all over their table. Actually, come to think of it – I have a felt tip right here in my pocket somewhere…
Carol can be found at:
Jigsaw Pieces (Ebook) and the four Spy Girl crime novels for age 10 + (publ by Usborne) are available from Amazon.co.uk/ Amazon.com
Fellow Romaniacs – there’s a note from Carol Hedges.
Thank you so much for your post, Carol. Hope to see you next time 🙂 x