Friday, 20 February 2015

EDGE Author Sara Grant Leaves Her Dark Future Behind

When I visit secondary schools, I sometimes end my presentation by asking teen audiences what they think the world will be like in 50 to 100 years. Both my teen novels are set in the future. Dark Parties is dystopian. Half Lives is an apocalyptic thriller. I’ve asked hundreds of teens in the US and UK the same question. And initially I was shocked by their responses.

I expected a few pessimists; maybe even a 50-50 split – possibly someone who’d jokingly mention a zombie apocalypse and another who might lean more toward a Star Trek version of tomorrow. But in each assembly, only one or two optimistic teens would admit to being hopeful about the future. Overwhelmingly teens believed the worst. It didn’t matter whether I was speaking to teens in the US or UK. It didn’t matter if it was an affluent school or a school in a disadvantage community. The response was the same, bleak.

I always tried to turn the tide and suggest advances in technology and medicine which might make our lives better. Teens could imagine curing cancer and living on the moon, but most focused on the negative. Usually a young man would explain the demise of humanity with horrific efficiency: world war then total annulation.

I wrote my futuristic novels because I wanted to explore interesting questions. Speculative fiction offers readers an escape as well as the ability to consider contemporary issue with a distance from reality. Now I’m afraid that teens are reading my books as ‘how to survival guides’. I always thought that the recent increased interest in futuristic teen fiction was because these tales allowed for real action and adventure with teens at the heart. Now I’m concerned that teens think books like the Hunger Games and Divergent are prophetic.

I’m an optimist. I believe in the fundamental good in people. I could only write my dark futuristic stories because I saw them as complete and utter works of fiction. They offered the opportunity create true heroes who conquer evil and give hope. I never for one second believed that the futures I imagined would ever happen. I’m still proud of my books and pleased I’ve written them. But after a year of understanding teens’ vision of the future, I’m not sure I want to feed my readers dark vision of the future any more.

Last year I finished a teen novel about a girl who could travel among her parallel lives with one life line set in a war-torn world. I wanted this story to challenge readers perception of reality and like all my books, demonstrate that one person can make a difference – and in the case of this book, save the world. I still love the story and characters, but I’ve set it aside – at least for now.

My new work in progress is contemporary. There’s still action and adventure and unlikely heroes. Bad things still happen to good people. But there are no plagues, world wars or dystopian futures. The good guys win, and the future is bright.

Maybe I’ll write about the future again. Never say never. I do love the discussions I’ve had with teens about the future and their roles in making it better. But for now – I’m leaving the dark future behind me.

Sara Grant has written two edgy teen novels -- Dark Parties and Half Lives -- and a funny series for young readers -- Magic Trix. For more information on Sara and her books, visit or follow her on Twitter @AuthorSaraGrant 

Friday, 13 February 2015

Book Titles and Songs by Savita Kalhan

 When I begin a new project I have to have a working title for the first draft. That title may change a few times, or remain the same, but I find it very difficult to work without one. Some writers are inspired by songs, their titles and lyrics, mood and feel. I listen to lots of music, but only rarely when I’m writing.

I’m just at the beginning of a new project and I’m looking for a title. I have one in mind that might work. While I was thinking about a title, I discovered that there are so many books that share their title with a song, and even quite a few Teen/YA titles. The Beatles seemed to have inspired more book titles than anyone else.

More Than This – Roxy Music, and Peter Gabriel. The title of Patrick Ness’s YA novel, More than This, may possibly Have had something to do with Peter Gabriel’s version of the song.

Buffalo Soldier – Bob Marley. The song title is also the title of a book by Tanya Landman, recently shortlisted for the Carnegie, and one of my favourite teen/YA reads of 2014.

Less than Zero – Elvis Costello. The title was used by Brett Easton Ellis for his debut novel

Night Shift – Commodores. Book by Stephen King

Nowhere Man – The Beatles. This title has been used over and over again.

Norwegian Wood – The Beatles. Book by Haruki Murakami. I won’t mention any more Beatles songs that are also book titles because there are simply too many!

The Day the Music Died, lyric from American Pie by Don McLean, also a book title by Ed Gorman (Sam Mcain #1)

Long Time Coming – Sam Cooke. Book by Sandra Brown

Here are 8 songs that I think would make a great book title
I've added a few links to some of the songs, so just click on LISTEN if you'd like to hear the song.

The Road to Nowhere – Talking Heads

Blowin’ in the Wind – Bob Dylan
Welcome to the Jungle – Guns and Roses

 My Name Is – Eminem

Straight to Hell – the Clash

 Blue Monday – New Order
Bright Side of the Road – Van Morrison
Song of the Black Swan – Pink Martini

What song titles do you think would make good book titles?

Savita's Website

Savita on Twitter

Friday, 6 February 2015


Paula Rawsthorne is delighted to shout about a great UK YA event.

On the 28th February, Birmingham High Street Waterstones will be hosting an event to showcase and celebrate UK YA writing. Writers and readers will get a chance to meet and chat about the books they love as well as discovering new UK YA fiction.  They’ll be plenty of readings, discussion and opportunities for book signings.

The fact that tickets for this event sold out within hours of going on sale, proves that there’s a real passion for UK YA fiction. I hope they’ll be more events like this to showcase the wealth of YA books by UK authors that cover every genre and topic imaginable.

I’m delighted to be amongst the 35 authors who’ll be involved in this exciting afternoon organised by YA authors, Emma Pass (Acid)  Kerry Drewery (A Dream of Lights) and the events managers at Birmingham H.S. Waterstones.  Below is the impressive list of the authors who are going to be there, including two of my fellow writers on ‘The Edge’, Keren David (Salvage) and Bryony Pearce (Angel’s Fury).

It’s such a wonderful opportunity to shout about, just some of the many, brilliant YA books. It would be great if Young Adult fiction got the attention it deserved.  In America, Young Adult fiction receives decent media coverage and isn’t seen as a category restricted to teen readers.  UK YA books get little media exposure unless, perhaps, a debut author receives  a ‘newsworthy’ advance.  However, word is spreading, often because of our fantastic book blogging community  (with bloggers like Lucy Powrie  and many more) (#UKYA) and word of mouth amongst teenagers.   It also seems that more adults, as well as teenagers, are discovered that YA books can offer them quality writing and engrossing stories that aren’t afraid to take on challenging subjects. 

In the run up to the Birmingham event the 35 authors involved are doing a UKYAExtravaganza Blog Tour in conjunction with our fantastic YA blogging community.   Find out who is posting and where  (@UKYAExtravaganza)  I’m looking forward to being interviewed by Luna over at Luna’s Little Library on the 14th Feb.  

You can check out all the novels published by the authors involved in the Extravaganza on Goodreads   

I’m really looking forward to meeting fellow writers and readers on the 28th.  I hope it’s the first of many such events.  Let’s keep spreading the word about all the impressive UK Young Adult fiction out there.

 What else do you think we should be doing to raise the profile of UK YA fiction?

Paula Rawsthorne is the author of award winning YA thrillers ‘The Truth About Celia Frost’ and ‘Blood Tracks’.  @PaulaRawsthorne        Paula’s Website