Claire McFall is a writer and a teacher who lives and works in the Scottish Borders.
She is the author of paranormal thriller Black Cairn Point, winner of the inaugural
Scottish Teenage Book Prize 2017. Her debut novel Ferryman won a Scottish
Children’s Book Award, and was nominated for the Carnegie Medal and shortlisted
for the Branford Boase award. Her other books include dystopian thriller Bombmaker.
Trespassers, the much-anticipated sequel to Ferryman, will be published on 14 th
Why I Write YA
I’m a grown up. A real one. In three months’ time, I’ll be 35. Thirty-five.
It’s horrifying. If you’d asked me when I was fifteen, I’d have said that was middle aged. As a matter of fact, I asked pupils in my school a few years back – when I was turning the then-terrifying age of 28 – when they thought middle-age began. Their answer? Twenty-five. I’ll be a decade older than that. The worst thing is that I don’t feel like a grown up. Grownups are mature and sensible and they do things like going to the garden centre on a Sunday for a wander and a bit of cake.
As I write this I realise I’m going to the garden centre on Sunday… There’s a difference, though. There is. I’m going to buy some furniture for the horrifyingly expensive patio I’m getting put in – and maybe a gas grill because coal barbeques always take too long – and there won’t be any cake because I’m on a diet.
You see – I am! I am a grown up.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. They were supposed to discover the key to immortality before I was 30 and then I was going to magically stop ageing. But that seems to be beyond scientists – stupid scientists! – so here I am. Nearly 35. And it sucks.
“Why is all this relevant?” I hear you ask. Well, it’s one of the big reasons why I write YA. I just can’t let go. In my head, I’m still 17. Some days, even 15! I don’t want to go to work, I don’t want to have a mortgage and bills and be supervising builders in my garden. That’s for grown ups – and I. Don’t. Want. To. Be. A. Grownup.
Sounds childish? That’s my point!
I have Peter Pan syndrome in a big way, and because of that, I think I identify with teenagers more. Because of that, I think (I hope!) I relate to teenagers better. The ideas in my head aren’t about politics or marriages and divorces or police dramas or anything like that. I don’t know how to tell that kind of story – and d’you know what? I don’t want to!
I’ll tell you another thing: being young is the best thing ever! I’ll pause for a moment while you snort your drink out through your nose in disbelief. It is! It really is. Do you know why? Because you, young people, can do anything with your life. Go anywhere, be anything. Imagine life as a giant room full of doorways and each doorway is an opportunity. Right now? Every single doorway is open to you. Every day, every month, every year, as you get older, those doors start to close. I’ll now never be a ballerina, or a rock star. I won’t go to university to study biology and discover the key to immortality (although, clearly, I should have!).
I’m not saying that I hate my life, at all. I love my life; it’s awesome. But I’ve had to make choices, and each choice closed a few more doors. And I was so busy bolting through doors that I never stopped to appreciate the wonder of where I was. The sheer sense of opportunity. The world is your oyster. I’ve never really understood that phrase, and I don’t like oysters, but you get my point.
One more reason before I go – and hopefully this one won’t make me look like an old fart desperately clinging on to her youth! YA readers are way cooler than adult readers (and that counts even if you’re an adult reading YA!). YA readers come find your website. YA readers talk to you on Twitter and Facebook. YA readers will come with me on a mad fantasy journey and won’t raise their
eyebrows and sneer well, that would never happen… YA readers create fan art (fan art! The best thing ever!). YA readers are the bomb – and I want to keep writing for them as long as they’ll let me.
Dylan has escaped a horrific train crash unscathed.
Except she hasn't.
The bleak landscape around her isn't Scotland. It's a wasteland haunted by wraiths searching for human souls.
And the stranger waiting for her isn't an ordinary boy. Tristan is a Ferryman, tasked with transporting her soul safely to the afterlife, a journey he's made a thousand times before.
Except this time, something's different.
Torn between love and destiny, Dylan realises she can't let Tristan go, nor can she stay with him. Eventually, inevitably, the wraiths would capture her soul and she would be lost forever.
Can true love overcome the boundaries of death?