Archive | December, 2012

Why I write YA

28 Dec

I’m a YA writer. That means I write for teenagers, approximately 13-19 years old, who come under the umbrella term ‘young adult’.

To be honest with you, I’m not sure how it happened.

When I finally stopped dreaming about writing, got my bum in the chair and just did it, I wasn’t thinking about markets, genres or publication. All I wanted to do was get this damned idea out of my head and on the page. It was just one of the hundreds of stories I’ve dreamed up over the years, but it was more insistent than the rest – like a little bee buzzing away at the back of my brain. Plus, I was alone in a drafty bungalow in a tiny Greek village where I couldn’t go out for fear of being mauled by wild dogs (I exaggerate…just). I had time to spare.

afidnes

Afidnes, which is actually a lovely place, as you can see

It was only later that I realised I’d written something that might fit into this category ‘YA’. I had a teenage protagonist, a fast-moving plot and, somehow, I’d managed to tag onto the underworld/Hades/grim reaper mini-trend that was happening in 2009-10. When I thought about all my other ideas too, they were also a good fit. YA seemed perfect for the adventurous and action-packed (yet romantic) stories I was coming up with.

By another stroke of good fortune, I’d come to YA at a brilliant time for the genre. We may slag off Stephenie Meyer till the cows come home, but she (and, to some extent, J.K. before her) made teen fiction a booming business – and not just for Twilight rip-offs. I realised that, in this genre, there was a really good chance of getting my books published – and reaching an eager audience, both of teenagers and, increasingly, adults.

As I did more research, I found there were so many great books that had been published in the eight or so years since I’d moved on from teen-lit myself. My choice was a little limited while I was in Greece (restricted to the Eleftherodakis English section), but I would pick up a few and sit in the top floor of the bookshop reading for the afternoon. I soon realised that I not only loved writing YA, I also loved reading it! Well-written YA books are absorbing, heart-stopping and brilliant escapism. With teenage protagonists, emotional conflicts become magnified and every decision feels like it has universal significance (and indeed it might, given YA’s proclivity towards the fantastical and speculative). What’s more, your story has to grab attention from the very first page to even stand a chance of wresting young readers away from their phones or PSPs.

That first novel is now snoozing soundly in the trunk, but I’m still writing for teens. YA lit is going strong, and I can’t wait to add my own books to the shelf!

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A Year of Books

20 Dec

A few years ago, my mum bought me a cute little notebook designed for ‘book notes’. I’ve been noting down everything I’ve read since 2008. Yes, I know the cool kids are using Goodreads these days…but sometimes you can’t beat good old pen and paper!

Anyway, it’s fascinating to go back and look at what I’ve read over the years. This year I’ve racked up more than ever (well, since records began), mainly down to my Kindle, which has meant I’m never short of something to read, and I can take it on my commute. I’m definitely not one of those ‘anti e-reader’ bores (‘Oh, but I just love books! I couldn’t possibly abandon paper!’) – not to say you can’t prefer one over the other, but I’m tired of people telling me I don’t love books because I’ve got a Kindle. Words are words, and my shelves are very small!

The range of genres for this year is fairly broad, although kid-lit/YA is heavily represented, for obvious reasons.

1. The Dolphin People by Torsten Krol (one of the weirdest books I have ever read!)

2. A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford (everybody loves those emerald eyes)

3. Larkstorm by Dawn Rae Miller

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Exciting News

3 Dec

I’m delighted to be able to share with you that my novel ‘The Twain’ has been shortlisted in the Guardian Hot Key Books Young Writers’ Prize 2012 .

I found out last week but wasn’t allowed to tell anyone until it was officially published. Safe to say I have had my head in the clouds for the last seven days. I mean, my little book? Top five? REALLY?! Somebody pinch me!!!

The winner won’t be announced until March, so meanwhile I need to get myself off Cloud 9 and back onto terra firma – i.e. school, school and more school. Thank you so much to all my cheerleaders – your support means everything. x

Welcome to my site!

1 Dec

Dear friends, old and new,

Welcome to my website.

I am a ‘Young Adult’ author from London, currently unpublished, writing about lots of things, from mythology-inspired fantasy, through near-future dystopian nightmares, to contemporary action adventures.

My novel, ‘The Twain’, was in the final of the 2012-13 Guardian Hot Key Books Young Writers’ Prize, and received an Honourable Mention in Undiscovered Voices 2014. ‘The Hunt is On’ is a finalist in Undiscovered Voices 2016 and featured in the winners’ anthology.

Check the ‘About’ page to find out more about me and how you can get in touch.

Catherine x