Today I have the wonderful Patrice Lawrence on my blog. Patrice is one of 12 authors who have written a short story in the anthology A Change Is Gonna Come. This is also part of the blog tour so follow it on Twitter as all the guest post are wonderful and I have another two authors from this anthology on this YA Month.
Patrice Lawrence was born in Brighton and brought up in an Italian-Trinidadian household in Mid Sussex. She found her way to east London in the '90s and lives there with a partner, a teenager and a cat called Stormageddon. She has been writing for as long as she has been reading. She loves crime fiction, sci-fi and trying to grow things. Her ideal mixtape includes drum 'n' bass, Bruce Springsteen and Studio Ghibli soundtracks. Music can't help creeping into her books. Orangeboy was shortlisted for the Costa Book Award.
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I was born in Brighton. I signed up for my first library there, went to my first school there, learnt to walk, read and write there. It’s the place where I fed 2p pieces into machines on the Palace Pier hoping they’d sweep a trove of copper-coloured booty back out to me. I saw gigs there, danced there, kissed there.
But it is also a place of veneer and shimmer. There is grime below the surface. In the 80s, young folk slumped in doorways sniffing bags of glue. People with profound need sought shelter after draconian benefit laws kept them on the move. In later years, traumatised refugees from the camps on the Somalia-Eritrea border were ‘dispersed’ to the isolated estates on the outskirts, neither newcomers or residents prepared for this change. Seven-year-old Maria Colwell was murdered by her stepfather on the estate where I lived. She was two years older than me. Like her, I’d been fostered. Unlike her, my life was full of happiness.
The tunnels recently discovered under Brighton feel allegorical. They are the keepers of secrets. I wanted to write about what lies beneath, not only the city, but our increasingly thin layer of social justice and empathy.
Writing The Clean Sweep was a challenge. I started it just after the Trump victory and I was angry. My words were bitter and my sentences unreadable. I had to get over myself! Because this was also an opportunity to pay forward. My own writing career started with a story in a targeted anthology by Arts Council England and Hamish Hamilton. Through that exposure, I gained my agent, Caroline Sheldon, and together we have worked on building my skills and publication possibilities. We’ve had a good year!
ChangeBook is a counter to the subtext that writers of colour are not published because we are not good enough. We are splendid! I am so proud to be part of it.
Featuring top Young Adult authors and introducing a host of exciting new voices, this anthology of stories and poetry from BAME writers on the theme of change is a long-overdue addition to the YA scene. Contributors include Tanya Byrne, Inua Ellams, Catherine Johnson, Patrice Lawrence, Ayisha Malik, Irfan Master, Musa Okwonga and Nikesh Shukla. Plus introducing four fresh new voices in YA fiction: Mary Bello, Aisha Bushby, Yasmin Rahman and Phoebe Roy.