Friday, 11 July 2014

Passion, Rebellion & Discovery

EDGE Author Sara Grant
shares why she writes teen books

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

Charles Dickens could have been talking about my high school experience.

A page from my senior yearbook.
Gotta love the 80s!
I don’t write teen fiction because I long to return to the ‘glory days’ of my youth. In many ways my teen years were the toughest – a bizarre mix of hope for my future oddly twisted with angst and despair. I was sure I could change the world if it didn’t steamroll me first. I experienced the thrill of a crush and the devastation of rejection. My first love. First kiss. First heartbreak. First failures. First success.

So why do I write teen fiction?

I write for this age range because the teen years are a time of rebellion and discovery. You are figuring it all out, asking big questions and challenging anything and everything.

For me, writing has always been about imagination and exploration. I wrote poetry when I was a teen to uncover what I was thinking and feeling. (I can still quote a few stanzas from my poems titled Tomorrow Never Comes and Unrequited Love. Those may not have been from my happiest days.) Now I write stories with an undercurrent of the issues I want to explore. Just like when I was a teen, I write not because I have the answers but because I’m interested in the questions.


My visit to Haslett (Michigan) High School.
Some of my favourite books are the ones I read as a teenager. Those books helped me discover the world and challenged my thinking. I cherish those first experiences of finding myself and losing myself in a story. One of the pleasures of being a published writer of teen fiction is being on the other side of that reading experience. Teen readers love or hate your book and aren’t afraid to tell you. I enjoy getting emails from teen readers: ‘your book changed my life’, ‘I’m your number one biggest fan’. And there’s the dark side of teen reviews: ‘words cannot express how much I loathed this book’. Wow! At least I’ve inspired passion.

I love writing for teens and I also love working with teen writers. It’s such a privilege to visit schools and libraries. All writers know the thrill of crafting a good story, but I’ve discovered an even bigger high – helping a young writer find his or her voice and discovering the power of storytelling.

Dave Cousins and I at Hemel Hempstead Library.
Whenever I’m asked the question, why do you write for teens? (Or the more dreaded question: Will you ever write grown-up fiction?) I suppose I wonder why -- when there’s so much passion, rebellion and discovery in teen fiction -- why would I write anything else?


For more about Sara and her books, visit her website at www.sara-grant.com or follow her on Twitter @AuthorSaraGrant

Friday, 4 July 2014

SHOWING APPRECIATION FOR OUR LIBRARIANS




Young Adult author, Paula Rawsthorne is delighted to read how our librarians make a difference to the lives of young people.







Yesterday a comment appeared on The Edge website and I felt compelled to write about it.  The comment was left by Dominic in response to a Q&A post with school librarian, Ingrid Broomfield.  The original post was part of our ‘Salute to Librarians’ series. Read the post 


 Dominic’s comment


‘I would just like to say thank you for the time you spent at John Port School. As a student who frequented the library during your last few years there you really made that place feel like a second home. You kept my love of reading alive and it is thanks to you that I found two of my favourite authors (Anne McAffrey and David Eddings!). The shared disappointment on the school trip to see Eragon and the surprise at seeing the books I mentioned appear on the shelves are things I still think of every time I walk past the library (I have come back to JP to work as a Teaching Assistant). I hope you are doing well and that you continue to enjoy your work as a librarian and I am sure you are making a difference, because you did with me.
Thank you,
Dominic  





Ingrid (like all our featured librarians) has dedicated years of her life to instilling a passion for reading in young people.  Dominic’s comments are a timely reminder of the impact that a good librarian can have on children and shows how that impact that can last into their adult lives.  It’s a reminder of how invaluable it is to have qualified librarians in our schools, working in libraries that are appealing, welcoming places and that convey the message that books are enjoyable, life enhancing and for everyone!
 

I know that they’ll be many more ex pupils throughout the UK who have their school librarians to thank for finding them the perfect story when they insisted that ‘books are boring’, for offering them a place they felt at ease and for passing on their love of books.  So many writers have strong, fond memories of their school and community libraries (read Savita Kalhan’s ‘A People’s Palace In Every Town’ post )   The access to free books for all and the guidance of a good librarian has helped mould many children into readers (and writers).



 


When librarians have devoted years of their lives to a profession which is increasingly under threat (in schools and in the community) it’s gratifying to read Dominic’s confirmation of how vital their role is in young people’s lives.  (Here’s my  post ‘Taking Issue’ about the importance of school libraries.)


It would be great to take this opportunity to Big Up any librarians out there who’ve made a difference to us at any stage in our lives.


I’d like to get the ball rolling by thanking all the great school librarians I work with when I do author visits.  Their enthusiasm to get students reading is inspiring. 


 If you’d like to thank any librarians please leave a comment below.

Paula Rawsthorne is an award winning author of YA thrillers 'The Truth About Celia Frost' and 'Blood Tracks' (published by Usborne) You can follow her on  FB- @PaulaRawsthorneAuthor and Twitter @PaulaRawsthorne