After much humming and haa-ing I’m coming more and more round to the idea that I am at heart a Young Adult writer. I know I should probably have decided this by now. I’ve been calling myself a writer now for two years and been a Dabbler for rather more than that, but there you go. Some of us are a bit slower on the uptake than others.

The thing is, I have an overactive imagination and the attention span of a flea. I love so many different types of books – romance, adventure, fantasy; teenage or adult or historical or women’s contemporary fiction – that I flit from wanting to write one type to another. But I keep coming back to two things. Firstly, romance. You’d think this would be my first love because it’s probably my favourite genre for light reading; specifically, historical romance – even more specifically, Regency romance. I’ve said a million times on here that my biggest influences were Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. My husband certainly thinks I should write this kind of story because I love reading them so much and I know the world like the back of my hand. And I do love the times when I’m writing this style. I’ve got a novella on the go that I’m pretty happy with. And to be perfectly honest, it’s probably the easier (note I said ‘easi-ER’, I’m far from kidding myself that any book is ‘easy’ to write) book for me to write, simply because for so long I’ve lived and breathed Regency romance. I even have a half-made Regency ball-gown tucked away in the linen chest (seriously. It was for a charity ball but I ran out of time and can’t bring myself to throw it away. It’s another project I will finish ‘one day’).

But for a long time I’ve been awed by the scope of the Young Adult novels around. The authors I’m being introduced to (Gillian Philip, Nicola Morgan, Cat Clarke, Malorie Blackman, Michael Morpurgo and the list goes on and on and on) and the stories they’ve written are amazing. There’s a to-be-read list as long as my arm and there seems no limit to what you can write about. The idea of putting myself alongside those authors feels a bit pretentious and getting too big for my boots but the truth is they are just so inspiring.

I remember being a teenage reader (pre-empting any cheeky comments, it wasn’t THAT long ago) and the excitement of losing myself in a book. Some of my childhood books are still my favourite books – Narnia, pretty much anything by Edith Nesbit or Enid Blyton (St Clare’s, anyone?) The Chalet School series, A Little Princess or The Secret Garden – before I moved onto Georgette Heyer then Jane Austen. I don’t know how those books would do today if they were coming new to the market and the books I’m seeing in the Young Adult sections are completely different, but the point is that the books I was introduced to as a young reader stayed with me. I want to write one of those books. Again, not another Railway Children, but a book that some teenager might read and keep on their shelves as an old favourite when they’re thirty or fifty or seventy. Maybe the book that encourages a teenager to keep reading when they’re on the point of being distracted by something shinier and noisier.

There are three story ideas dancing around in my head, and have been for a while. The first is my Regency – not a romance, but an adventure – which I’ve had on the go for a while and am making slow but sure progress with. The others are completely contrasting and more… involved. Not particularly complicated, but they are going to take a LOT of imagination and constructing an entirely different world to the ones I’ve been used to. The thing is, they’ve all come into my head as books for teenagers. It puts a lot of pressure on – I know how critical a teenager can be and the demand is basically that I write the best book I can and then make it better. Gulp. But it also opens up immense possibilities as to where the story can go, and that’s one of the things I find so exciting about kidlit. Of course, nothing is set in stone. I will write the best books I can and I guess that will determine what type of author I am!


On a side note, I’m considering calling it a day with the A to Z Blogging Challenge. It’s been interesting and motivating coming up with a daily post, and I’m tempted to carry on because I’ve committed to it and it would be fun to see what happens (especially at W, X, Y and Z…) but I’m not sure it’s doing me any favours. Writing a post because it’s something I do daily probably isn’t producing my best posts, and I could be using the time I’m thinking of and writing blog posts on the fiction. And due to IMMENSE tiredness and the madness that is two small children, that time is precious.

On the other hand, it is getting me in the discipline of doing some writing every day. I dunno. I’d appreciate any thoughts from anyone? If you’ve been reading the blog, I’d be really grateful for any comments on how it’s going and whether it’s worth keeping up the challenge to the end of April. And thanks for reading so far!


“When danger, passion and chance collide…”

So reads the strapline on this gripping novel from Nicola Morgan, and it sums up the book perfectly. The story of Jack, who lives his life by the flip of a coin, and Jess, who comes into his life, had me by the throat start to finish. Luckily I was actually being looked after following a night of illness so I had the perfect chance to sit and read without worrying about children or housework or anything else that would have so rudely taken me away from Jack and Jess’ story.

The pace is relentless, the main characters so perfectly drawn and the twists and turns of their lives so agonising that you can’t help but think “What if…” long after you’ve put the book down. It’s a Young Adult book, but really I think most adults would be equally as riveted by it, if not more so. Nicola makes you think about what the alternatives to your life could have been just by making one choice slightly differently, even the most seemingly trivial and irrelevant ones. I remember watching the film Sliding Doors eleven years ago with my new boyfriend, and I think that film had the same objective – what if one thing had happened differently, how would your life have gone? Wasted does this much more effectively and brutally and there are moments throughout that actually haunted me and replayed after I’d finished reading. As an adult reading this, I think Nicola’s writing had a much more poignant effect on me than if I’d read it as a young adult, ten years or more ago.

On a different note, Nicola also captures tiny details that really bring that atmosphere to life as well as the breakneck feeling you get when true love coincides with the end of your school life; it’s like one life ending as another begins and Nicola gets this so perfectly. I actually felt breathless at several points and very often was transported back to the start of my relationship with my now-husband which happened at the same point in my life. It’s really excellent writing.

Nicola has a non-fiction book coming out next June, called Write to be Published, and is running several workshops on this theme before then. I can’t recommend them highly enough, as this is so clearly someone who really knows what good writing is, and I’ll be doing my very hardest to get myself onto one! Check out Nicola’s blog or website for more details (this isn’t an official plug, I’m just genuinely that enthusiastic about this book!). Nicola’s blog, Help! I Need a Publisher! by the way, is one of my favourite blogs for writers. Unbeatable advice.

Here’s the Amazon listing for Wasted; it’s available in paperback and Kindle version. Go and buy it…or flip a coin and let chance decide.