Friday, 19 April 2013


This week, The Edge Writers are delighted to introduce YA book blogger Vivienne from Serendipity Reviews blog.
Hi everyone. Thank you Savita for inviting me onto The Edge. I have enjoyed featuring many of you on my own blog, so it is lovely to be able to return the favour.
1.      Viv, why do you READ and WRITE about teen/YA books?
That's an easy one. I read and write about  teen books because I simply love them. From the moment I read Twilight, I fell in love with YA. The books are normally fast paced and you are completely engulfed in the story by the end of the first chapter. YA books are about telling a damn good story, not trying to write the fanciest sentences. I don't want to spend hours trying to work out what the author is getting at - I want to embrace the main characters and delve into their lives.
2.      What are the most ORIGINAL YA books that you have read?
Oh crikey that is a hard one. I had to search back through hundreds of books and came back to a recent book I read that bowled me over. Ferryman by Claire McFall is definitely one of kind. I don't think I have ever read an after life story that has touched me so much. The idea of a Ferryman taking you to Heaven I know is an old idea, but the way Claire wrote it just took my breath away. Her writing alone, shows an originality in her voice, to the point, I feel I could spot her writing without her name attached to it.
3.      What is a TURN OFF in YA fiction?
Instant love. I imagine a lot of people have said this but it really is annoying and can easily turn me off a book. I know teenagers fall in and out of love a lot easier than adults, but they don't fall within seconds of meeting each other. In the last year or so, there has definitely been a move away from this type of story. The characters  falling in love lately have known each other most of their lives which makes it so much more believable.
4.      What makes for a great YA book?
Strong, identifiable characters. Fast paced plot. A first chapter with so many hooks I am practically trembling with excitement by the end of it. Lack of adults.
5.      Which YA characters would you most like to take OUT TO DINNER and why?
The Vincent Boys by Abbi Glines. In particular Beau! I fell in love with him from the first chapter. But then Abbi writes the most awesome male characters. He would be the eye candy for the dinner party.
Caelena from Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. She is one of the strongest female characters I have ever come across and I know I could learn a lot about self defence from her.
Mary Shelley Black from In The Shadow of the Blackbirds by Cat Winters as she is one of the most interesting and quirky characters I have ever met. I just know we would be best friends.
The four horsemen of the Apocalypse from Barry Hutchison's hilarious book The 13th Horseman. They are so funny, I'm sure they would have great stories to tell around the dinner table. Their quick witted banter would keep the rest of the table entertained.
6.      Who is your ideal YA HERO/HEROINE and why?
Caelena from the Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. As I said above, she is the strongest female character I have ever met, stronger than Katniss from The Hunger Games. She is only young yet she can fight better than Lara Croft and has survived torture.

7.      What is your dream YA ROMANTIC PAIRING and why?
Lila and Alex from Sarah Alderson's Hunting Lila. I loved the chemistry between these two, they just set the book alight. I loved how feisty Lia was and the way Alex was so determined to protect her.
8.      What makes you uncomfortable or question the BOUNDARIES OF YA fiction?
I struggle with YA books that deal with child abuse. I think that comes from being a mum; any stories involving any sexual or violent abuse upset me and I find them really uncomfortable. I also struggle with incest. I still haven't been able to read Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma and ended up writing a post about it. That definitely stems from being a mum, as in my younger years I fell in love with Flowers In The Attic by Virginia Andrews.
9.      What would you LIKE to see happening in YA over the next five years?
I would like to see books have longer shelf lives. Within YA, there are so many books out there that it feels like many get lost in the stampede of new books and never get the attention they deserve. I want to walk into a book shop and see older YA still available not just the latest books out that month.
I would also like to see more UKYA, perhaps set in smaller towns and villages around the UK. We have some amazing and historical places of interest that deserve to have their stories told through YA, creating such interest that teens would actually want to visit them.
10.   What do you think will ACTUALLY be the next big thing in YA ficton?
That's an interesting question because at the moment, New Adult contemporary books are taking over the internet, but I'm not sure they have filtered down to the general public. I think book bloggers and tweeters see trends erupting long before they reach the book buyers. So New Adult is definitely about to storm the country. Followed closely by New Adult fantasy books which is practically non existent at the moment. I know NA is not YA, but I can guarantee a lot of teenagers will be reading them.
There is definitely a move away from paranormal books. I think angels and vampires have had their time in the spotlight for awhile and contemporary thrillers are stealing the limelight.
Give us your top FIVE TEEN/YA books please, Viv.
This is really hard. So I am going to go with my Top five out of the books I have read this year. I have to do it on a yearly basis because there are just too many amazing books.
From What I Remember by Stacey Kramer and Valerie Thomas
Ferryman by Claire McFall
The Quietness by Alison Rattle
In The Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
Hidden Among Us by Katy Moran
And finally, Viv, if you read ONE book this year, read THIS...
Undone by Cat Clarke. It will destroy you. *passes hankies* Cat is an amazing storyteller and can write such emotional and realistic scenes.

Viv, thanks so much for submitting to the EDGE INTERROGATION!
Thanks for the torture! These were the hardest questions I have ever had to answer.

If you’d like to read more of Viv’s reviews, you can find her here:

And you can follow her on twitter @Serendipity_Viv

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Series Fiction, by Bryony Pearce

I read a novel in around two hours.  This was a huge help in my English Literature degree, but it also means that a) my house is groaning with books b) my bank manager hates me c) if I’ve come to love a character, I feel as if my time with them is over too quickly.
There are some authors who write books that I will literally finish the last page of, then turn back to page one and start reading again (most notably Terry Pratchett, Jenny Crusie, Janet Evanovich, Anne Macaffrey, David Gemmell and JR Ward), just so I can remain in their worlds for longer.
Basically if I’ve come to love a character I want their story to go on, and on.
That is why I love series fiction.  It enables me to stay with my favourite characters for years, learning new things about them, keeping up with their adventures, seeing their arcs grow and grow.

This also holds true for the characters I create myself.  I love them and I want their stories to go on.  In my head I know what happens next to Cassie, Seth and Pandra from Angel’s Fury.  I have a rather kick ass sequel planned out.  
It won’t get written.  
Angel’s Fury was a one book deal and hasn’t sold nearly enough to warrant a sequel.  The only way I might consider writing that sequel is if I develop enough spine to self-publish.  It’s a very, very remote possibility.
My new book The Weight of Souls is also a one book deal with the synopsis for the sequel written out and ready to go.  Again, I have to wait for book sales to find out if I should be working on it.
It seems I tend to envisage series but sell books one at a time.
I imagine that frustrates some of my audience.  But at least if a writer makes a one book deal they can wrap up the ending of the first book, just in case.  It’s a much better scenario than the one I’ve been hearing about recently where a number of authors have had third books in trilogies cancelled due to poor sales of the first two. 
As a reader that would make me livid.  I’d be banging down the door of the author’s house wanting to know what happened next.  I understand the need for publishers to make money, but do they also have a responsibility to make sure that a story embarked upon, gets finished? Surely publishing the first book in a series represents an implied contract with the reader that the other books will come out.
And that is the problem with series fiction, that the story might never get finished.  I started reading Game of Thrones when it first came out, in the mid-nineties.  By the time I’d finished reading A Storm of Swords part II and waited for the next book in the series (five years) I’d forgotten what had happened in book one and moved on.  I gave up on The Wheel of Time when, after eleven books, Robert Jordan died leaving the last tome unwritten.  David Gemmell died two books into his Troy trilogy.  Both of these authors had their series finished by other people, but I’m unwilling to read these books in case the writers didn’t do the job I wanted them to do.
Gratuitous Nathon Fillion image
I love series fiction, but it has its downsides, especially  when publishers are beginning to cancel series with the axe-wielding aplomb of the Fox Network.  I will no longer embark on a new US TV series until I've heard that all episodes in the first season have been made and preferably that a second has been commissioned.  There’s nothing more annoying than getting involved in something and finding out that it has been cancelled (Firefly, Last Resort etc.). I seriously hope publishers don’t go the same way.  Otherwise I will be in the same position, refusing to buy book one of a trilogy until book three has been published.  
But that’s a vicious circle, if publishers start backing out on their implied contracts with their readers, the readers will start holding off and won’t buy books until they are guaranteed a completed contract (i.e. they have seen book three already on the shelves).  But if the readers don’t buy book one, because they are waiting for book three, then publishers will mark book one off as having bad sales and the sequels won’t get written at all.
It’s a problem.  
The only thing that readers can do for authors is believe.  Pitch into a series, read it regardless of the idea that it might never make it to the end of the story and if necessary fill in the ending themselves. 

Thursday, 4 April 2013


This week, we’re delighted to introduce Jim Dean from YAYeahYeah. Jim blogs and writes reviews about teen/YA books, and he's agreed to take part in the Edge Interrogation! Over to you, Jim.
Hi, I’m a maths teacher (sorry!) who loves writing and reading, and has previously edited a school magazine. I’ve been book blogging since December 2010, but got my start in book reviewing when the lovely people who run The Bookbag ( accepted my e-mail application to become a reviewer. A few hundred books later, I think it’s safe to say that’s probably the most important e-mail I’ve ever sent anyone!
1.    Jim, why do you READ and WRITE about teen/YA books?
As a teacher, I really like reading books that the people I teach are likely to enjoy. As a reader, I think the years in which teens are growing up are absolutely fascinating to read about. And as a blogger, I get so excited about the sheer number of incredibly good YA authors out there that it's brilliant to share my love of these books with other readers.
2.    What are the most ORIGINAL YA books that you have read?
My standard answer when it comes to originality is Jaclyn Moriarty's Ashbury/Brookfield novels. Told in a huge amount of different ways, featuring everything from notes on fridge doors to answers to exam questions, JM is a thrillingly inventive author who manages to write superb novels using her own unique style. Adding to that, I'll throw in Laura Lam's Pantomime, a classy fantasy which deals with issues which are rarely seen in any YA books with real grace.
3.    What is a TURN OFF in YA fiction?
Nothing, when's it done well! Having said that, love triangles, insta-love, and 'sexy' scenes are some of the things that I think quite often AREN'T done particularly well, so my heart tends to sink just a tiny bit on seeing them.
4.    What makes for a great YA book?
For me, great characters beat everything else out, with a strong voice being a must if it's written in first-person as well. Plot, setting, and writing style play an important part for me to, but it's believable characters who develop well throughout the book which are the one thing that will definitely hook me.
5.    Which YA characters would you most like to take OUT TO DINNER and why?
Most main characters are too young for me, so I'd go for one of a pair of wonderful supporting characters - either Annabel, from Geek Girl by Holly Smale or Stepmama from Stephanie Burgis's superb Kat Stephenson series. Both of these ladies are brilliant characters who I'd love to meet.
6.   Who is your ideal YA HERO/HEROINE and why?
I'm probably pushing the boundaries of YA by mentioning Stephanie Burgis's Kat Stephenson series once, let alone twice, but I'm going to name Kat for this answer anyway because she's a simply stunning heroine - loyal, brave, feisty and just generally incredibly cool. Favourite hero is significantly harder to pick, but having just raced through Department 19: Battle Lines in an afternoon, I'll say that vampire hunter Jamie Carpenter is probably my answer for at least the next hour. (Although as I’m about to pick up LIGHT by Michael Grant, there’s a fair chance that by the end of that book one of the teens from the FAYZ may have grabbed top spot, as it has so many brilliant heroes!)
7.   What is your dream YA ROMANTIC PAIRING and why?
Tempted to go with Department 19 again, with the partnership of Jamie and vampire Larissa being one of my favourites for ages. I'd also consider several couples from some of last year's wonderful YA contemporary releases - Skin Deep by Laura Jarratt had Jenna, disfigured in a car crash, and New Age traveler Ryan, while Pushing The Limits by Katie McGarry was a stunning romance between damaged teens Echo and Noah. If I had to pick just one, though, Lucy and Ed from Cath Crowley's Graffiti Moon would take first place because they're fantastic individual characters - Lucy is smart, feisty, and really likeable, while Ed is a brilliant artist and a seriously great guy - and the chemistry between them is so hot I was half expecting my book to catch fire as I read it.
8.  What makes you uncomfortable or question the BOUNDARIES OF YA fiction?
There's actually very little that makes me uncomfortable, to be honest - the only thing that springs to mind is one I read in which a group of teens got away with rape with little consequences.
9.   What would you LIKE to see happening in YA over the next five years?
More dual narratives, because I love them! More brilliant fantasy which deals with real issues - I'm thinking things like Laura Lam's Pantomime, as mentioned above, Celine Kiernan's outstanding Moorehawke trilogy, and Curtis Jobling's wonderful Wereworld novels. And more of the Monstrumologist, because I have a horrible feeling that I've read somewhere Rick Yancey's next book will complete the series, and I really don't want to see it end.
10.   What do you think will ACTUALLY be the next big thing in YA fiction?
 Will Hill's Department 19: Battle Lines is (as I write this) just about to hit the shops, and I think the brilliance of that series, which builds on Stoker's Dracula with some stunning world-building and great characters, might inspire a fair few similar novels. I think it's great to see books like these - and Andy Briggs's superb Tarzan reboot - which look back at classic literature. I also think there's going to be a lot more paranormal books (nothing new there) but can see them moving away from romance and into more chilling territory.

Give us your top FIVE TEEN/YA books please, Jim.
Oh good grief... the first two are obvious (to me, and to anyone who's ever read my blogs!) - after that, it gets ridiculously difficult.
Code Name Verity - heartbreakingly beautiful. My policy on CNV is that I just say "It's amazing!" and shut up to avoid spoiling it, so that's all I'm saying.
The Sky Is Everywhere - the best YA contemporary I've ever read, which had me in floods of tears. Captures the grief of losing a sibling perfectly but gives you hope as a reader that things can get better.
The Things We Did For Love by Natasha Farrant - Code Name Verity is getting tons of (well-deserved!) plaudits, which is fabulous to see. However its success has perhaps overshadowed Natasha Farrant's stunning novel, also set in World War II, which follows the fortunes of two young lovers
Skin Deep by Laura Jarratt - My current favourite YA contemporary author, Jarratt has only written two books so far but both are amazing! This staggeringly great dual narrative looks at themes like prejudice, disfigurement, mental illness and grief, and does so with fabulous characters and brilliant writing.
Can I sneak a series in instead of just a book for the fifth, please? If so, I'll choose Michael Grant's GONE sequence - full of great characters, heart-pounding action and a superb plot.
And finally, Jim, if you read ONE book this year, read THIS...
Pantomime by Laura Lam. Stunningly beautiful, with brilliant characters.
Jim, thanks so much for submitting to the EDGE INTERROGATION!

If you’d like to read more of Jim’s reviews, you can find him here: (, and if you’d like to check out his new blog – YA Contemporary, click on the link –
And you can follow him on twitter @Yayeahyeah