Friday, 30 March 2012

Going too far by Bryony Pearce

I’m writing my new book, it’s called Wavefunction and no, I don’t yet have a publisher for it.  But I’m still writing.  Hope springs eternal.
The thing is, it’s getting dark (and I’m not talking about the weather).  I hadn’t quite realised how dark the book was going to get when I set out (I’m a plotter, but do allow things to get away from me on occasion).  This book makes Angel’s Fury look like a Rainbow Magic story. 
So far I’ve got burglary, slavery, sex and cannibalism and I’m only on chapter thirteen.  Edgy?  Well, yes, but at the moment edgy is also how I’d describe my mood. 
I’m excited about this book. It’s really, really fun to write (and yes, that probably does raise concerns about my mental health) and I think it raises some wonderful questions about freedom and justice and man’s place in the world.  But I’m starting to ask myself, what is the point in writing it, if my agent is just going to wing it back to me covered in red pen?  Or worse, tell me to scrap it altogether because it’s just too dark.
My main character witnesses teenage sex, eats a man-burger, then fails to stop his girlfriend being sent off to be eaten … have I gone too far?
Is a book going too far if it leaves you thinking?  If it stays with you?
But then again, maybe this won’t leave the reader thinking.  If all they can focus on is the man-burger, does my message get lost?

I don’t think I’m writing to be gratuitous, I think I’m writing what I’m writing to get my point across, but am I having too much fun?
Am I going too far?
We’ve talked about how rubbish writers can be about knowing what the boundaries are.  How things in Angel’s Fury I thought would be fine, turned out to be problems and vice versa, so I am clearly a poor judge. 
Maybe the man-burger will slide by my agent’s red pen.  Maybe not. 
The question is, do I stop writing while I’m at 30,000 words and reign it in; save myself the heartache of a total rewrite when it comes straight back to me?  Or do I keep writing and enjoying myself? 
Maybe I should embrace the darkness and hope (is that oxymoronic, or just moronic?).
I’m getting edgy about going too far.
Anyone else have that feeling ... or any advice?

Thursday, 22 March 2012

New Book Announcement! Savita Kalhan

I am delighted to announce that my next novel for teens and young adults will be published in spring 2013 by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books. It is called AMNESIA, and it’s about a fourteen year old boy who wakes up in a hospital bed with no memory. He doesn’t even recognise his mother.
The inspiration for this book came from some unusual places. A friend had recommended The Man who Mistook His Wife for A Hat by Oliver Sacks, to me, which I was reading late one evening. The TV was on in the background. I often read like this, and, yes, you might think that I can’t possibly concentrate on both at the same time, but actually I seem to manage quite well. I grew up the eldest of seven kids and learnt to read with constant noise in the background, so it’s an old habit that I can’t seem to break. I went upstairs at some point and heard my teenager talking in his sleep – he only does this around midnight and only for a few moments.
By the next day I had the germ of an idea for a book.
In The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde wrote, Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us... Losing your memory is like losing yourself, your identity. You are completely reliant on others to help you fill in your past.
By the afternoon I had written the opening of AMNESIA.
Ideas and inspirations for stories often spring from the strangest places. Where do you get your ideas from?

Friday, 16 March 2012

Perfectly Imperfect

When it comes to creating characters,
EDGE author Sara Grant prefers imperfection

I’m not interested in perfect. It’s something I’ll never be. And anyway...perfect is boring.

I want to write about characters who are perfectly imperfect. I don’t like villains who are purely evil nor do I like flawless heroes.

I tried to craft every character in Dark Parties with a light and dark side. My main character Neva accidently kisses her best friend’s boyfriend at a party in the pitch black and then proceeds to fall in love with him. (A definite no-no in the BFF handbook.) Neva’s father is the Minister of Ancient History and part of the establishment that keeps the country in Dark Parties locked away  under an electrified dome. The country is decaying and the citizens are dying but Neva’s father believes that he is doing what is necessary to protect his country and its heritage.

If this is all you ever know about Neva and her father then I can understand why you might not like them. But if you read on, you’ll find characters struggling with guilt and misinformation. By the end of the book, I hope you’ll be cheering for both characters.

I like to write in the first person so that my narrator’s (and readers’) perception of another character can evolve. It’s happened to us all. The first impression of someone can be absolutely wrong. I have dear friends who I didn’t click with immediately and made fast friends only to discover that our connection wasn’t sustainable.

A FBI profiler came to speak to a college class I was taking titled Murder in America. He said that everyone has three lives – their public, their private and their secret lives. Your public life is what everyone knows about you. Your private life is what only the people closest to you know. And your secret life is what only you know about yourself. The profiler said that he must uncover the three lives of a victim to solve the crime. I think writers should create these layers for each of their characters.

Similarly in his book The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life, Noah Lukeman encourages writers to give each character inner and outer lives with both positive and negative traits.

I heard a literary agent joke that to make your villain more believable all you need to do is give him/her a pet. An axe murder who loves his pet guinea pig can’t be all bad, right? Give your villain a heart – or at least make them care about someone or something passionately. Know what has driven him/her to do bad things. Alternatively give your hero a dirty little secret or a dark side.

If you get the chance to read Dark Parties, I hope you are constantly surprised by its cast of characters. I tried to show the readers my characters layer by good, bad and twisted layer.

We all have secrets. We all behave badly. We have people who love us and people who, well, don’t. We all have bad habits and make mistakes. It makes us human and interesting. Perfection is over rated and not really attainable. I prefer a perfectly imperfect character, friend and reflection in the mirror.  

Sara Grant’s debut novel DARK PARTIES -- a dystopian thriller for young adults – is published on the Orion’s Indigo imprint. Find out more about Sara and her book at

Don't forget to enter the EDGE's contest!

You can enter the draw in one of three ways:

1. Leave a comment at the end of this post with your name and email address. (We suggest you use the words 'at' and 'dot' rather than symbols. Thanks.)

2. Follow @EdgeWriters on Twitter and RT this competition link to your Twitter friends

3. Visit the Edge Facebook Page and LIKE us! Then SHARE the competition link with your Facebook friends.

Thanks and good luck!

The closing date for the competition is midnight, 31st March 2012 and unfortunately due to postage costs, we can only accept entries from the UK on this occasion.

Friday, 9 March 2012


Paula Rawsthorne shares her experience of researching her second novel.

Of all the aspects of novel writing, research may not immediately spring to mind as being  the most enjoyable.  However, my experience of researching my new novel has been exciting, as well as being tough, emotional and thought provoking.  The process of doing my research has also had a fringe benefit of making me feel all glowy towards my fellow human beings, who have been so very kind and generous in helping me.

My novel (that I’m still busily working on), is another stand- alone thriller.  I love writing this genre because I enjoy trying to create a combination of complex, engaging characters and twisting, turning stories.   My stories require research as, even though they are fiction, I want what happens in them to be within the realms of possibility.  Also, even though I don’t specify where my novel takes place, I want my settings to feel authentic and real.   Sometimes this can involve leg work and I’ll visit a location and soak up the atmosphere (unfortunately, my story isn’t set in the Bahamas- maybe next time).

However, as you know, much research can be done without any travel or even human interaction.  Much of it is just between you and the internet, or books, or journals.  I find that even this can be exciting (or maybe I'm just over-excitable) as you uncover layer after layer of information and are sent down paths that you’d never contemplated. 

Of course, it’s very easy to get carried away with research and spend far too much time on it instead of actually writing your story.  Also, you must be careful how you use all that lovely information.  As a reader, the last thing you want to do is to plough through swathes of information in a work of fiction; so, as a writer, you have to make sure that what you include is essential to the narrative and is weaved into the action.  You may have spent ages on your research but you must be disciplined enough to know what to omit.
The kind of research I enjoy undertaking most of all is approaching experts in particular fields and  pumping them for information.

I’ve found that people have been incredibly generous with their time and gone out of their way to help me.   I’m lucky to have friends in all walks of life and they were great at providing me with facts in their areas of expertise.  Although I researched extensively for my first book, The Truth about Celia Frost, with my second book, I've felt more confident about approaching experts that I don’t know, and asking them for information.

My latest novel has involved talking to coroners, sailors, doctors, police, runners, dockers and professors in America who are experts in a field that I can’t divulge (because it will give too much away).  I’ve found it fascinating and their insider views and knowledge have been invaluable.  For instance, I’ve now seen first-hand, what happens in a coroner’s court and behind the scenes - you may be able to see this kind of thing on T.V., but there is no substitute for feeling the emotion of being there. 

I’m so grateful that all these very busy people have been so patient with my specific (and often bizarre) questions.  People have taken me through procedures, sent me academic papers, drawn me diagrams and even stood up and demonstrated things.   I told one poor expert that I needed ten minutes of his time and nearly two hours later I was still interrogating him in my kitchen! 

I can’t thank them enough for all their input and I hope that they will feel that I’ve put it to effective use in my new thriller.
So, as a writer, what aspect of research do you most enjoy?

As a reader, have you read any works of fiction were the research has blown you away or, alternatively, been overbearing?

Thursday, 1 March 2012


In the spirit of World Book Day and to celebrate one year of The EDGE we are giving away a set of eight signed novels, one from each Edge Author. (That's over £50 worth of cutting edge teen fiction for FREE!)

You can enter the draw in one of three ways:

1. Leave a comment at the end of this post with your name and email address. (We suggest you use the words 'at' and 'dot' rather than symbols. Thanks.)

2. Follow @EdgeWriters on Twitter and RT this competition link to your Twitter friends

3. Visit the Edge Facebook Page and LIKE us! Then SHARE the competition link with your Facebook friends.

Thanks and good luck!

The closing date for the competition is midnight, 31st March 2012 and unfortunately due to postage costs, we can only accept entries from the UK on this occasion.