I'm so excited to be hosting Emma Pass on day 8 of her blog tour, for her new novel THE FEARLESS (available now). Her first novel ACID (which I 've just finished) is fab too.
An army, powered by an incredible new serum that makes each soldier stronger,
sharper, faster than their enemies. Intended as a force for good, the serum has
a terrible side-effect - anyone who takes it is stripped of all humanity,
empathy, love. And as the Fearless sweep through the country, forcing the serum
on anyone in their path, society becomes a living nightmare.
Cass remembers the night they passed through her village. Her father was
Altered. Her mother died soon after. All Cass has left is her little brother -
and when Jory is snatched by the Fearless and taken to their hellish lair, Cass
must risk everything to get him back
Emma is kindly guesting today, with a post about absent parents in YA liteature. I'm sure you'll agree, it's a bloody interesting read. Please share and comment - and then buy her book! You really must.
Missing: One Set of Parents (Reward Offered for Keeping Them That Way)
So, you're writing a novel in which your
heroine or hero is about to embark on a crazy adventure. But just as they're
about to rush off to save the world, their parents arrive, wagging their fingers
and reminding them that they still
haven't done their homework. And anyway, if they think they're staying up late
on a school night, they've got another think coming. That nice Mr Andrews next
door is what? Don't be ridiculous! You've
been watching far too much TV. Up to
your room, now!
Frustrating, isn't it?
So perhaps for your character to be able to
carry out their quest, those pesky parents – or whatever adult authority
figures your character has in their lives – need to be out of the picture, at
least for a while. But how can you achieve this? There are several options:
main character doesn't have parents.
This is the least complicated option – or
so it might seem at first. But actually, it can make things pretty complicated.
In THE FEARLESS, Cass doesn't have parents because her father was lost in the
Fearless invasion, and her mother died shortly afterwards. However, this
independence brings up a whole new set of problems. She is the sole carer for
her little brother, Jori, and when he's kidnapped by two Fearless she is the
only one who can save him, putting her in terrible danger. So literally getting
rid of the parents can sometimes create more problems than it solves!
parents are absent for some other reason.
Perhaps the parent is an mad-professor type
who doesn't care what the main character gets up to – think Uncle Quentin,
George's dad in the Famous Five, who was only too happy for George, Julian,
Dick, Anne and Timmy to head off on all sorts of wild adventures, because it
got them out of his hair. Or perhaps the parent are emotionally absent, or have
jobs which require them to spend a lot of time away from home, leaving your main
character in the care of a surrogate parent who isn't quite as watchful or
without anyone to look after them at all. Your character might have been
removed from their parents' influence in other ways – perhaps they're on a
no-parents-allowed holiday with friends, or at boarding school. There are many
ways to take parents out of the equation without erasing them altogether.
not going anywhere. Deal with it.
It's not always practical to get rid of the
parents (or parental figures), and indeed, sometimes, the complications they bring
to your protagonist's struggle add crucial conflict to your story – and
conflict, as all writers know, is the thing which drives your plot forwards. So
if you're struggling to find a convincing way to get rid of your teenage
character's parents, ask yourself, could I keep them in the picture, and make
that another obstacle my protagonist has to overcome?
In both ACID and THE FEARLESS, I've gone
with option 1 because it best suits the dystopian/post-apocalyptic worlds I've
created, but I'm now working on a new idea where the parents and authority
figures who act as surrogate parents are very much alive and kicking. It's
going to be interesting trying to get them out of the way…
Pass has been making up stories for as long as she can remember. Her debut
novel, ACID, is out now from Corgi/Random House in the UK, and from Delacorte
in the US. It won the 2014 North East
Teenage Book Award, was shortlisted for the Doncaster Book Award, nominated for
the 2014 CILIP Carnegie Medal and has been longlisted for the 2014 Branford
Boase Award and a Silver Inky Award in Australia. Her second novel, THE FEARLESS,
is also out now in the UK from Corgi/Random House and will be published in the
US in early 2015 by Delacorte. By day, she works as a library assistant and
lives with her husband and crazy greyhound G-Dog in the North East Midlands
It's UKYA Day today (sounds of party poppers going off). This is a fab project and so important as it highlights the talent and wonder we have here in the UK. One of the reasons why I love writing YA is because it's fresh, diverse and challenging.
I thought I'd use this post to celebrate some of my influences, fab UKYA writers who I think should be highlighted. Of course, there are many more than my small list - but this is just an example of some of the excellence out there.
1) Anne Cassidy.
Fantastic, powerful writer, she really challenges her reader.
If you've not read Looking for JJ, you must - honestly, you won't regret it.
2) Jaqueline Wilson.
I know she's not strictly YA but some of her early work influenced me greatly.
Nobody's Perfect and Waiting for the Sky to Fall were books I read AGAIN and AGAIN as a teen. They encouraged me to write.
3) Keren David
I'm late finding Keren, but as a contemporary/realism writer myself, I am in awe of Keren's work.
She is real, gritty and exciting. My only regret is not finding her sooner.
4) Cat Clarke
Cat's books are so clever, fast moving and gripping and keep you reading until late at night.
I get so excited when a new book comes out!
5) Sally Nicholls
Sally is such a diverse writer. She writes about contemporary issues with such sensitivity.
I have just received my issue of Close My Pretty Eyes - and I can't wait to get stuck in.
Of course there are so many more. I could go on all day, but these 5 authors make me want to read more of their work. Not only that they also encourage me to become a better writer.
We are so lucky to have such a wealth of talent here. Please remember to keep recommending your favourite authors and sharing the love.
I was nominated for this chain-blog-thingy by the wonderful Leila Rasheed http://leilarasheeddotcom.wordpress.com She has been an inspiration me for a long time now and is a fantastic writer for children and young adults.
I don't do these things often. I'm not great at them (if I'm honest), but I've had a go!
These are the questions.
“What are you working on?”
I’m now working on the edits for my teen novel Seven Days. It's an exciting process, first time for me! It's also really great to see your novel begin to take shape. Editorial input is so valuable, it makes you see things in a new light and you also notice the glaring mistakes and several repetitions that you miss when you read a novel yourself a million times over!
I'm also starting to flesh out some ideas for my next book (due for release in 2016). I can't give away any details yet, but I'm getting quite excited about how things are developing.
“How does your writing differ from others in its genre?”
That is so difficult to answer. I think all writing differs. We all have our different strengths.
I've always been told that I have an authentic voice, I think that comes from working directly with teens for so long. I'm also quite gritty and don't like to shy away from serious matters that I think are really troubling young people.
My characters are often flawed and come from troubled backgrounds. I like to explore this and also look at the inner strengths and beauty some of these individuals can have. I don't believe in Happy Ever Afters - but I do believe in hope and the amazing strength of human spirit.
“Why do you write what you do?”
I started writing comedy novels, but there was always a gritty undertone. When I started working with teenagers I had a direct link to what issues they were facing on a daily basis. I started to find that my work was now naturally leaning towards these contemporary themes (without the humour) and actually it seemed to suit me.
“How does the writing process work for you?”
I try to write 500 - 1,000 words a day. I edit as I go (because I'm a bit of a perfectionist) so sometimes I can be stuck on the same chapter for a while.
I'm not a planner, I wish I was. I have a rough idea where I'm going and then I just write. I let my characters direct me and take me on their roughly penned out journey. It seems to work.
There are days however, when I sit and sob and wonder if I'll ever be able to write again. These are outweighed by the wonder days, when the sentences flow - and a piece of work really comes to life.
That’s it folks! I nominate 1) author extaordinaire Ruth Warburton http://www.ruthwarburton.com/- if you’ve not read the Winter trilogy do so now, she is an amazing writer! And 2) debut YA novelist Sara Crowe http://theforest.me Her novel Bone Jack is out April 2014!
Sometimes writing is the hardest thing in the world. You can have this fantastic idea gnawing away inside you; yet you STILL will do anything to avoid it. Believe me, I'm great at this. I have in the past:
* sorted my out washing
* Googled the whereabouts of previous Big Brother contestants (yes I am that sad...)
* spent 30 mins trying to think of an interesting Facebook/Twitter update
* re-arranged my bookcase into height order
just to avoid writing.
I don't know why we do this. I think it's just that feeling of self-doubt that eats away at you, making you believe that three hours would be better spent wasted on Digital Spy than typing up the lame words you might otherwise write.
But of course all of this is rubbish. You can write. You MUST write. You have to shut the stupid voices away. Tips to help you focus include:
* Using a computer without Internet access, or using an app that switches off Facebook so that you're not tempted to spend hours testing which Simpson/Hunger Games/Eastenders character you should be.
*Rewarding yourself with an hours' productive work (I find cake useful)
* Or setting yourself a target of 500 words a day. It doesn't matter if you have to edit it down later, just get those words down.
* Working to music. I like working in silence, but some people find it more motivational to type to classical or certain pop music.
* Get someone to strap you to your seat and only release you when you've met your target.
Ok - the last one might be a bit extreme...
The end is in sight. In the near future you could have have a gleaming, brilliant book to shout to the world about. No-one will ever know if its trapped between your ears.
I have to go now. Blogging is distracting me.....;o)
I have soooooo many rejections. I've kept them. I'm proud of them. They form part of my journey and even though they bloody hurt at the time, each one made me that bit more determined. Rejections drove me further. I was going to be accepted....one day!
I was rejected for my first three books. One I decided to self publish (The Blog of Maisy Malone) and the other two I decided to file away for a bit. My forth, Seven Days, was my eventual success.
But yesterday, about a year after I'd started submitting my novel to agents, I received another rejection. I'd totally forgotten this one was still outstanding. Although it was nice to read this email and know it no longer mattered, the rejection itself still smarted a bit - because lets face it, we all want to be loved. The message itself was simple:
Many thanks for contacting us about your work. Unfortunately we didn't think this was right for the areas on which we focus.
Thank you for thinking of us and we wish you all the best in finding representation elsewhere.
And I guess this reminded me of a important lesson in publishing - although I secured an agent and a publishing contract in the end, I was bloody lucky.
One mans meat is another mans poison.
You will be rejected. This is normal. This is good if you can use the disappointment to drive you forward. So my advice today is to keep trying.
And if you get despondent, eat cake - it worked for me.