Welcome to day 9 of YA Month. I have the wonderful Dave Rudden on the blog today with an extract from his book but, instead of just a post he has filmed a video for it! Thank you Dave for doing this and check out his books, after you watch this video you will want to pick them up.
Dave Rudden has worked in the Dublin theatre, spoken word and storytelling scene since 2010, performing at such nights as Milk & Cookies, Bang Bang Forty Coats, The Monday Echo, Shore Writers’ Festival, Electric Picnic, Culture Night and RTÉ’s The Works. His short fiction and poetry have been published in journals such as Bare Hands, the Quotable, Minus 9 and Poddle, and anthologies such as Damn Faeries, Under The Stairs and Shoes, Ducks & Maids Of The Sea. He is the author of the tenth novel in the Nightmare Club series from Little Island – BRAIN DRAIN BABY.
He has won the Fantasy Book Review Short Story Prize in 2013 and was short-listed for both the Hennessey New Writing Award and the Bath Short Story Prize. Dave was awarded a Literature Bursary by the Arts Council and serves on the committees for both IrishPEN and the Irish branch of the International Board of Books for Young People. Graduating from the Creative Writing Masters in UCD, he was signed in November 2013 by Clare Wallace of the Darley Anderson Children’s Agency.
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The first book in a new series about an orphan boy who discovers he is part of a secret army that protects the world from a race of shadowy monsters.Grey placed his finger in the middle of the shadow.'What's this?' he asked.Denizen frowned. 'It's a shadow.''No, it isn't,' Grey said. 'It's a door.'Denizen Hardwick doesn't believe in magic - until he's ambushed by a monster created from shadows and sees it destroyed by a word made of sunlight.That kind of thing can really change your perspective.Now Denizen is about to discover that there's a world beyond the one he knows. A world of living darkness where an unseen enemy awaits.Fortunately for humanity, between us and the shadows stand the Knights of the Borrowed Dark.Unfortunately for Denizen, he's one of them . . .
BOOK 1 - BUY HERE
The second book in the brilliant Knights of the Borrowed Dark trilogy, perfect for fans of Skulduggery Pleasant.Life is returning to normal for Denizen Hardwick. Well, the new normal, where he has to battle monsters in quiet Dublin bookshops and constantly struggle to contain the new powers he has been given by Mercy, the daughter of the Endless King. But Denizen may need those powers sooner than he thinks - not only are the Tenebrous stirring again but the Order of the Borrowed Dark face a new threat from much closer to home...
BOOK 2 - BUY HERE
Today I have the wonderful Virginia Bergin on my blog with an interview with Hayley Sprout. Thank you so much for being part of this and check out her wonderful blog!
Virginia Bergin learned to roller-skate with the children of eminent physicists. She grew up in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, and went on to study psychology, but ruined her own career when, dabbling in fine art at Central Saint Martins, she rediscovered creative writing. Since then she has written poetry, short stories, film and TV scripts. Most recently she has been working in online education, creating interactive courses for The Open University.
She currently lives on a council estate in Bristol and has taken to feeding the birds in between writing the sequel to The Rain.
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1) Where did the idea for Who Runs the World stem from?
The compact answer: a teen friend told me she was studying Tess of the D’Urbervilles and I flipped. (If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a story in which a woman is the victim of a patriarchal society’s cruel male oppressors.) I studied the same book at school – about 35 years ago! – and I wondered . . . isn’t it about time we told a different kind of story?
The long and messy answer is: this idea came from my life. What my teen friend had to say was my wake-up call. My whole life I have never felt I am how a female is ‘supposed’ to be. Mainly, I just feel like . . . well, ‘me’. We’re all just human, aren’t we? As far as I can tell, ‘gender’ is a made-up, shifting, essentially hollow idea; a concept of how we ‘should’ be – against which we all fail. We’re all so much more complex than a stereotype! Yet it’s almost impossible to reject ideas of gender – because we are so soaked in them, from the day we are born . . .
I realised it wouldn’t be the right decision to simply turn the world on its head and create a matriarchy in the image of a patriarchy, to make men oppressed. If I wrote for just adults, I might have done it - but I don’t write for just adults, I write first and foremost for teens. I didn’t want to serve up a slice of my own life, flipped. I thought teens deserved more. I decided I could at least try to imagine what a gender-neutral world would look like. That’s River’s world: it’s been shaped by the absence of men and the actions of women, and so she has never really had to think about what being a girl or a boy might mean – until the arrival of Mason, the boy in the story.
2) Were you influenced by other forms of media during the writing process?
No! The very opposite! During the 19 months it took to write Who Runs the World? I shut more and more media – even other books, and films, and ‘the world’ in general - OUT.
Brexit was happening, and then the US elections . . . and, in the end, I swapped my radio news channel for music and I avoided social media – not because I don’t care about what happens in the world – I wouldn’t write this story if I didn’t! – but because I knew I needed to concentrate . . . and listen, hard.
I’ve written other books – The Rain and The Storm – and in them I could hear Ruby, the main character – louder than I could hear myself. In Who Runs the World? River speaks to us from a place so far away from our now I could hardly hear her.
I think it’s so easy to get caught up in reaction – and there is so much in our world to react to. (And we need to! Bad, bad things go on!) But . . . I was trying to find a space to imagine a different world. I think we need that too.
If there is one thing I’d like to come out of Who Runs the World? it’s just that: for readers to imagine the kind of world they’d like to live in.
3) Your first two books were also dystopian, what's appealing to you about the genre?
Because it’s an opportunity to re-imagine the world!
That’s appealing in itself . . . but what I love most about dystopias is the chance they give us to do better. A dystopia gives you the space to imagine utopia. My main observation about teens – and about YA lit – is that there is a great sense of fairness, equality and justice, compassion and empathy. It seems to me that these are things most of us humans instinctively feel, and from quite a young age. Adulthood can mess with that. We discover huge swathes of complexity. We discover all kinds of difficulties, experience all kinds of influences . . . and it can become really difficult to navigate – to even survive! – in our world.
For me, a dystopia is a chance to ask yourself – again – what do I believe in?
A dystopia gives you the space to reconnect with who you are.
4) What did you enjoy most about YALC?
YALC is phenomenal!
It’s an ideas-fest! It will challenge you! It will amaze you! It will make you cry – and laugh! (And, obviously, there are tons of books sold at discount and freebies galore.)
But my favourite thing? We get to meet each other, readers and writers – and don’t forget writers are readers too. I love the opportunity to talk to people face-to-face . . . even though it’s a bit nerve-wracking. Writers spend most of their time alone at a keyboard, readers spend most of their time alone with a book . . . but when we meet, and we break through our various barriers to talk, it’s excellent. YALC connects.
Welcome to the Matriarchy. Sixty years after a virus has wiped out almost all the men on the planet, things are pretty much just as you would imagine a world run by women might be: war has ended; greed is not tolerated; the ecological needs of the planet are always put first. In two generations, the female population has grieved, pulled together and moved on, and life really is pretty good - if you're a girl. It's not so great if you're a boy, but fourteen-year-old River wouldn't know that. Until she met Mason, she thought they were extinct.
Hope you are all enjoying the first week of YA MONTH? Today I have the wonderful Karen Gregory on my blog with a guest post on being a debut author and first author events.
Writer. Single mother. All round plate spinner. Debut COUNTLESS out now with @KidsBloomsbury. Represented by Claire Wilson at RCW.
Being a debut – the first author events
When I first got the news that Countless was going to be published, author events seemed like the haziest of distant possibilities. I’ve now attended a few and they are rapidly turning into one of the best things about being an author, but they’re not without their challenges! Here’s a quick rundown from the perspective of a very new author:
The Highs (or why book people are awesome)
It probably goes without saying, but meeting readers, bloggers and other authors and publishing people has been absolutely fantastic. It’s such an honour to be approached by someone who has read Countless and let me know it has meant something to them. The road to publication can seem so long it’s easy to think your book will never have any actual real-life readers beyond your family and friends, so I am constantly astonished and delighted whenever anyone takes the time to come and say hi or to bring a copy of Countless for signing.
I was lucky enough to attend my first ever YALC last week, and despite having laryngitis and not being to talk masses, I loved every minute! There was such a welcoming vibe as soon as the lift doors opened onto the YALC floor. Chatting to other authors, especially debuts like me, really helped me to see lots of my worries and fears were totally common. Without exception, the more experienced authors I met were kind, generous and happy to chat to a newbie and the panels I attended were really interesting and fun.
I’ve also loved doing panels with other authors. They’ve provoked some really interesting and thought-provoking questions from audiences and great discussions. It’s fascinating to hear about how other authors approach their work and it definitely confirms there is no one-size-fits-all approach to writing, or journey to publication.
The Challenging Bits
This is the big one for me. I imagine most people get at least a small amount of nerves before public speaking and I’m no exception! My first event after the Countless launch consisted of a reading and conversation with the lovely Penny Joelson, author of I Have No Secrets (which you should definitely read, because it’s brilliant). It was the first time I’d ever read from Countless in front of people and my hands and voice were definitely on the shaky side. Luckily, I remembered the advice to, ahem, clench your buttocks and it actually does work to stop shaking hands! Hopefully I wasn’t pulling too many weird faces at the time …
As I’ve done each event, the nerves have become slightly more manageable and it really helps to talk to other authors and realise most people feel the same way.
Travel (AKA looking confused and getting lost)
I’m one of those people who gets anxious about travelling to new places and I can’t stress how important it is to leave plenty of time to get to and from events so you don’t arrive in a panicked, sweaty mess. So far, I’ve had the Sat Nav conk out on me, braved the M25 (I’m a nervy motorway driver), had my train out of Paddington delayed by several hours and sat in an apocalyptically deserted tube train with only a pigeon for company. And oddly, it’s all been fine and has given me more confidence I can manage when things don’t quite go to plan. So perhaps this one isn't so much a low as a reminder that travelling to new places might be daunting, but it is also totally doable.
I genuinely can’t think of any other lows! It’s been such a privilege and pleasure so far and a real surprise for someone who thought their introvert tendencies would mean they’d struggle at book signings and events. My biggest piece of advice for anyone new to attending book events is to take a deep breath, be brave and strike up a conversation. Plenty of other people will be feeling as nervous as you and the vast majority of the time you’ll find interesting, lovely and warm people to chat to who love books as much as you do!
'Is there anything that's concerning you?' Felicity says. 'College, home, boyfriends?' Though she's more or less smiling at this last one. I don't smile. Instead, I feel my face go hot. Silence stretches as wide as an ocean. When I look up, Felicity has this expression on her face like she's just seen Elvis. Slowly, she leans forward and in a gentle voice I've never heard her use before she says, 'Have you done a pregnancy test?' When Hedda discovers she is pregnant, she doesn't believe she could ever look after a baby. The numbers just don't add up. She is young, and still in the grip of an eating disorder that controls every aspect of how she goes about her daily life. She's even given her eating disorder a name - Nia. But as the days tick by, Hedda comes to a decision: she and Nia will call a truce, just until the baby is born. 17 weeks, 119 days, 357 meals. She can do it, if she takes it one day at a time ...
Hello everyone and welcome to day 6 of YA MONTH! Today I have the wonderful Caighlan Smith, author of Children Of Icarus on my blog today with a fun guest post! Definitely give it a read and then check out her book. It is fantastic and one of my favourites from last year.
As a child, Caighlan Smith loved to build and navigate pillow mazes. An adoration of Greek mythology soon followed. Canadian born and raised, Smith studied English Literature and Classics at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Her first novel was published when she was nineteen.
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6 YA Fantasy World-Building Must-Haves According to an Author with Particular but Probably not that Uncommon Tastes which aren’t Soundly Justified Herein but Nonetheless Have Been Organized into a Checklist for You
I have just promised you a checklist, in so many irregularly capitalized words. But I also mentioned I’m an author, and we authors (are supposed to) know how to build suspense. Ergo, I am making you wait on the checklist (provided you don’t subvert my maniacal plans and skip down to said checklist). Now, let me take a moment to acquaint you with my latest novel, Children of Icarus, published summer 2016 and available at the usual places. Children of Icarus, in one sentence, is the story of a girl trapped in a labyrinth of monsters. When I say monsters, I don’t just mean the figurative “we all have our inner demons and oh-boy do survivalist settings bring them out!” I mean literal monsters. Claws, scales, wings, etc. I like monsters. Which brings me to a neat and definitely not contrived segue to the afore-promised checklist.
Any kind of monsters will do. You can snag some monstrous prototypes from mythology (as I may or may not obviously do in Children of Icarus). You can throw together some Lovecraftian horrors. Or everything could just be dragons. It is all acceptable.
Hydration is important. So is personal hygiene. (Fun Fact about water: you can put krakens in it.)
3. Not Too Much Water
Some of us are not strong swimmers.
In constructing a world, I love it when the writer has clearly paid attention to the atmosphere – a gloomy world with grey skies and Gothic architecture? Yes, please. A fluffy, lighthearted world with cloud castles, which still manages to make your skin prickle, because it turns out all the fluff is covering up a corrupt cyborg government? Sure. A starkly realistic and thought-provoking world despite the banshees in helicopters? Okay. Atmosphere – strong atmosphere – gives your world its own unique flavour. It also protects your world inhabitants from the sun.
5. World Inhabitants
It is a grave injustice to create a lovely, geologically diverse, monster-strewn world and not let anyone inhabit it but the monsters. You don’t want the monsters to eat each other, do you? No, of course not. That would be a disaster.
6. Home Base
Every story needs a solid opening location – a square one, a District 12, a Pallet Town. Somewhere our intrepid and/or incompetent and probably ridiculously attractive (whether they know it or not) young adult protagonists can (1) begin their epic quest, (2) take their first steps to unravelling the dystopian empire, (3) return to at the end of the prophesized supernatural wars, (4) abandon because it is boring and life – and, more importantly, the novel – should be exciting, or (5) attend high school. Yep. Sometimes home base is the always-and-forever-only-setting-in-this-story base. And you know what? If that forever home base is one with chimeras lurking in the dumpster behind the old diner, then I’m happy to put it on this checklist.
So there you go. That is my checklist for YA world-building must-haves. Do I always follow it in my writing? No. Unfortunately, I let myself down over and over again. For instance, many of my story ideas feature worlds without enough water. Or enough atmosphere (see: stories in space). BUT does Children of Icarus check all the boxes on this checklist? If there were boxes, it definitely does, yes. So does the sequel, Children of Daedala, which comes out spring 2018. Spoiler: There are monsters.
It's Clara who's desperate to enter the labyrinth and it's Clara who's bright, strong and fearless enough to take on any challenge. It's no surprise when she's chosen. But so is the girl who has always lived in her shadow. Together they enter. Within minutes, they are torn apart forever. Now the girl who has never left the city walls must fight to survive in a living nightmare, where one false turn with who to trust means a certain dead end.
Today on YA Month I have Carlie Sorosiak on the blog with an interview with Cora from Teapartyprincess definitely check out her wonderful blog and thank you for taking part!
Carlie has written a book called If Birds Fly Back and it is truly one of the best books I have read this year, my full review is on my review page but, it is just fantastic and I cannot wait to read it again.
Carlie Sorosiak grew up in North Carolina and holds two master's degrees: one in English from Oxford University and another in Creative Writing and Publishing from City University, London. Her life goals include travelling to all seven continents and fostering many polydactyl cats. She currently splits her time between the US and the UK, hoping to gain an accent like Madonna's.
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1. If you could describe your own book in five words, what would they be?
Romance in the Florida sunshine.
Ooo! Or this:
Nerdy cuteness, astrophysical mysteries, love!
2. There are some very complicated family relationships, what were the hardest parts about writing them?
I think the hardest part was ensuring that every point of view came across and that every character (even if he or she had a somewhat difficult personality) remained sympathetic. Other than that, it came rather naturally. I have a very complicated family history, so I'm used to the complexity!
3. IBFB is a little bit nerdy, what was the most interesting fact you discovered while writing it?
Oh, so many! It's really challenging to pick just one! Okay, here it goes: the "Hairy Ball Theorem" that Sebastian references translates to the "Combed Hedgehog Theorem" in German. What are the odds?!
4. If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?
Take advice from people you trust, and everyone else's advice with a bucket of salt. Lots and lots of people will have opinions about your writing, and you have to know the voices to listen to.
Also, drop the "aspiring" in "aspiring writer"! If you're seriously putting words on paper, then you're a writer. Own it! :)
5. What are you working on next?
I'm in copyedits for my second novel, which is a standalone contemporary with snow and a dinosaur park and kissing and possibly a little bit of magic.
Linny has been living life in black and white since her sister Grace ran away, and she's scared that Grace might never come back.
When Linny witnesses the return to Miami of a cult movie star long presumed dead, she is certain it's a sign. Surely Alvaro Herrera, of all people, can tell her why people come back - and how to bring her sister home?
Sebastian has come to Miami seeking his father, a man whose name he's only just learned. An aspiring astrophysicist, he can tell Linny how many galaxies there are, how much plutonium weighs and how likely she is to be struck by a meteorite. But none of the theories he knows are enough to answer his own questions about why his father abandoned him, and why it left him in pieces.
As Sebastian and Linny converge around the mystery of Alvaro's disappearance - and return - their planets start to collide. Linny's life is about to become technicolor, but finding the answers to her questions might mean losing everything that matters.
I have the wonderful Taylor Brooke on my blog today with a wonderful blog post about own voices and mental health. She is a beautiful writer and this post shows it. Her new book is out in September and it sounds amazing!
Taylor Brooke is a traveling story teller, believer in magic and a science fiction junkie. After fleshing out a multitude of fantastical creatures as a special effects makeup professional, Taylor turned her imagination back to her true love—books. When she’s not nestled in a blanket typing away on her laptop, she can be found haunting the local bookstore with a cup of tea, planning her next adventure, and fawning over baby animals. She is the author of Fortitude Smashed (Interlude Press) and The Isolation Series.
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Is This Seat Taken?
Own Voices and Mental Health – The What If’s
But is it your own voice?
How own voices is it, exactly?
So, you actually… you know, experienced that?
You identified a lot of #OwnVoices tags for your latest book. Are you sure they’re all really your own voice? Or is it just a few of them?
I’ve been asked these questions in varying tones since I started writing from an Own Voices perspective. It’s become an unfortunate trend to question the integrity of Own Voices creators, to police their unique take on gender, sexuality, mental illness, chronic illness and so on. I know from firsthand experience that writing authentically is not only daunting, but it’s scrutinized.
So, how Own Voices did I have to be to sit at the table?
Well, to be honest, I didn’t realize I was writing an Own Voices book until it was finished. Fortitude Smashed came out of left field. It was sprung on me in the dead of my first Central Oregon winter after I’d relocated from Southern California. I didn’t know I was writing a story about mental illness until Aiden Maar stepped out of my head and onto the page. His balancing act with his mental health mirrored my own.
After stints of sleeplessness, too many cups of tea and a few hundred pages written, I re-read my manuscript from start to finish.
I didn’t know I’d been sitting at the table until I looked up from the first draft of Fortitude Smashed and recognized where I was. I remember it clearly, the first thought I had after I read the last sentence: Oh no.
Not oh no, I messed up, but oh no, what if I didn’t do dissociative dysthymia any justice? What if people think I’m doing this for attention? What if I didn’t get it right? And low and behold, the question I ask myself regularly, what if they don’t believe me?
At that point in time I hadn’t even considered placing the Own Voices stamp on it. It was a baby book, you know? I’d just written it. I needed to re-write it, polish it, query it, and then I would circle back to the cluster of questions above. All those horrible what if’s. I re-wrote, I polished, I queried and I ultimately signed with Interlude Press (heart-eyes for decades).
Then it happened, the circling back part I’d been putting off. My editor (my amazing, passionate, kind, wonderful editor) asked me how much research I’d done on dissociative dysthymia. I counted the seconds on the phone as I considered how to say it, because I had to say it.
I remember it like I remember how it felt after those few hundred pages and all that tea and too many sleepless nights. I said: Yeah, I have it, so.
And then I laughed, because laughter fixes everything. (Right?)
We talked for a while about the characterization, about what my editing schedule would look like and what I should expect. Not once did my editor back track. After I told her Fortitude Smashed was Own Voices she said okay, great and that was that. No second guessing, no are you sure’s, no show me your research. I’d told someone – the very first someone – that I struggle with my mental health, and the world kept turning.
So, to be honest, I’d been sitting at the Own Voices table the whole time. I just didn’t know it.
Which leads me to this:
You don’t have to be the hardest version of your mental illness to write about it and call it yours.
There’s no qualifier. You don’t have to explain yourself. You’re not carrying the weight of everyone else’s experience. But you do get to put your handprint on your story, and no one can take that from you.
Most of us YA authors (I write YA and NA) are just now branching out and finding our footing in the Own Voices world. I’ve been a part of countless discussions between seasoned authors who still question the authenticity of their writing. I’ve also discussed the peculiarity of putting a stamp on something we’ve been doing for years.
So, you’re at the Own Voices table, right? You’ve got this awesome book idea and you’re ready to hit the keyboard. And then it happens. Not only do you get discouraged, but you don’t know if you’ve endured enough to connect with others. What if I’m not sick enough to write this?
Stop. Full stop. Halt. You shall not pass.
Those what if’s aren’t important. They’re the tiny voices in the back of our mind that we wish we had a volume control for. But as much as everyone says to ignore them, I know I couldn’t. So, here’s what I did instead.
My what if moment came after Fortitude Smashed was in pre-production, but it happens to everyone on their writing journey, I think. At least once. I’ve had thoughts come at me from everywhere: What if I’m not bi enough? What if I don’t disassociate enough? What if, what if, what if?
I started asking myself questions to combat it. The same question with a different ending.
What if my book helps someone? What if someone sees themselves on these pages? What if this story touches someone? What if I make a difference to someone out there who is like me?
What if Fortitude Smashed gives someone a reason to keep going when they want to quit?
It’s okay to reaffirm your identity. It’s okay to say I can do this.
Say it. Say I can do this as often as you need to, because when it comes to mental illness, sometimes I can do this is a challenge all on its own.
But you can. There are plenty of seats at the table, and there are stories that need to be told – stories that only you are equipped to tell. Your unique experience. Your struggle. Your happy ending. You get to have that, if you want it.
So, how Own Voices do you have to be?
Be you. Write from your experience and write from your heart. That’s your VIP entrance, the red rope being pulled aside, your welcome hurrah. It’s okay to write for someone, whether it’s for yourself or for others, or for both.
Despite the what if’s and the policing and the road blocks: You’re allowed.
And despite that tiny voice saying you’re not enough of something, I promise you: You’re enough.
You’re worthy. You’re needed.
You have a story to tell, go tell it.
After scientists stumbled across an anomalous human hormone present during moments of emotional intimacy, further research created the ability to harness the direction of living energy and pinpoint when two lines will merge. Personalized chips are now implanted beneath the thumbnails of every infant, where glowing numbers count down to the moment they will meet their soul mate. Fate is now a calculation.
But loving someone isn’t.
When Shannon Wurther, the youngest detective in Southern California, finds himself face-to-face with Aiden Maar, the reckless art thief Shannon’s precinct has been chasing for months, they are both stunned. Their Camellia Clocks have timed out, and the men are left with a choice—love one another or defy fate.
Day 3 of YA Month is upon us and I have the wonderful Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison on my blog with an extract from their new book Freshers. An amazing read that shows how the first year of uni goes and it is utterly hilarious and oh so wonderful! They write together so beautifully.
Co-authors of the hilariously funny novels Lobsters and Never Evers, Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison met in the sixth form and have been friends ever since. Lucy is a school librarian at a girls school in central London where she gets most of her inspiration. Tom is a journalist and has written for ShortList, Time Out, Vice, talkSPORT, ESPN and Viz.
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NEW CITY. NEW HOME. NEW FRIENDS. FRESH START … Uni beckons. Phoebe can’t wait, especially since her crush from school will be there. She’ll be totally different once she gets there: cooler, prettier, smarter ... the perfect potential girlfriend. She’ll reinvent herself completely. But Luke’s oblivious, still reeling from the break-up with his ex and trying to find himself along the way. Thrown head-first into a world of new friends, fall-outs, weird societies, parties and social media (and personal) disasters, can Phoebe and Luke survive the year, let alone find each other? A warm, hilarious and perfectly observed coming-of-age comedy about the first year of uni; a story of friendships and feminism, falling apart and discovering who you are, from the much-loved writing partnership of Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison.
Welcome to the second day of YA month. I am so excited about this post and I hope you all enjoy. If you follow me on Twitter you know I got some bloggers involved with this month. I had a few Q&As to do and thought it would be fun to get some bloggers to do the questions for them. So, today we have the wonderful Jenn Bennett with us today with a Q&A from Bex at Myshelfmyself and Amy at GoldenBooksGirl.
Hi Jenn, thank you so much for taking part in this interview! Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself and your novels?
I’m an American writer for both adults and teens. All of my books tend to focus on romance between unique characters (artists, geeks, and loveable weirdos), exploration of different kinds of families, an emphasis on witty banter and sex positivity, and most of them are set in Northern California.
2. What are your tips for writers block?
Talk to someone about it. A friend, family member, partner…someone with whom you feel comfortable. They don’t have to understand the process of writing, and they don’t have to be readers, even. They just need to be a good listener, because if you’re blocked, there’s a reason. And talking about it is like knocking your shoe on a curb to shake a tiny pebble loose that’s been stuck inside. You can’t walk until you get that irritating pebble out!
3. Who are your favourite YA authors?
Right now, Leigh Bardugo, Kiersten White and Stephanie Perkins.
4. You’ve written both series and standalones before – how do they compare and which do you prefer?
Both have advantages/disadvantages. In a series, you don’t have to keep rebuilding your world: your characters and setting are there, waiting for you. But it’s also restraining, because you’re forced to stay true to the world you built while also writing something that isn’t a rehash. Also, writing a character arc over several books can feel tiresome. Standalones are always fresh---new characters, new dynamics, new setting. However, you’re rebuilding the wheel every time, starting from scratch. I’m not sure which I prefer, honestly!
5. Your book, Night Owls, is called The Anatomical Shape of a Heart in America; what is the reason for this?
Night Owls was my original title, which the U.K. (and other international publishers) kept. My former U.S. publisher wanted to change the title. It’s been a source of frustration for me, mostly because readers get confused and think they are two different books. Personally, I prefer shorter titles—easier to remember, less typing for me, and it fits better within social media character limits!
6. I know it’s hard, but if you had to choose – which of your novels is your favourite?
Hmm, not sure. I’m proud of all them. They’re like children: you’re not supposed to favour one over the other!
7. Alex, Approximately published last week, and your next book, Starry Eyes, is out in 2018 – can you tell us any more about it?
Yes! Starry Eyes is about an astronomy-loving girl and a goth boy. They used to date, but something tore them apart. When they end up on a summer camping trip together, their friends abandon them in the California wilderness, and they have to hike their way out. There’s lots of conflict, an adult toy store, a scary campfire story, LGBTQ parents, and steamy kisses inside tents. Oh, and did I mention that I did some artwork for the inside of the book? I did! I’m very excited about this book!
1. Can you describe your books in 5 words for anyone who hasn't read them?
Romantic, offbeat, witty, hopeful, comforting.
2. One of my favourite things about Night Owls was its settings, which I can't remember being the main setting in any other book. What made you want to choose to set the book in San Francisco?
I adore San Francisco. All of my books (so far!) have been set in Northern California, particularly the Bay Area and the coastal area below it—Monterrey, Big Sur, Santa Cruz (which is the town that inspired the setting of Alex, Approximately). My Roaring Twenties historical romance series is set in San Francisco, which I started writing before Night Owls. I used to live in Los Angeles, in Southern California, which is a completely different vibe. I always tell people I’m going to retire in Big Sur (redwood trees, fog, craggy cliffs, stunning Pacific ocean views), where I’ll paint pictures of monsters, drink expensive tea imported from China, and do naked yoga outside my clifftop house. You know, normal stuff!
3. Do you have any preferences about where you write? Do you have any other writing habits?
I write in two places: in my office (which doubles as my paint studio), and in an old Poang IKEA chair in my living room. I need complete silence for writing, no music, as I’m easily distracted, and I write better in the morning, after a good night’s sleep. Also, I do more writing when it’s raining. I suppose I could write more if I were living in a rainier climate. So maybe I shouldn’t retire in Big Sur, after all…
Jenn has a new book out called Alex, Approximately and I can't recommend it enough!
Bailey "Mink" Rydell has met the boy of her dreams. They share a love of films and talk all day - Alex is perfect. Well, apart from the fact that they've never actually met . . . and neither of them knows the other's real name. When Bailey moves to sunny California to live with her dad, who happens to live in the same town as Alex, she decides to track him down. But finding someone based on online conversations alone proves harder than Bailey thought, and with her irritating but charismatic (and potentially attractive?) colleague Porter Roth distracting her at every turn, will she ever get to meet the mysterious Alex?