Featuring Angela Cerrito, Sara Grant and Paula Rawsthorne
On Notes from the Slushpile, many of us are chasing down the dream of getting published. So when that dream comes true, it's time to celebrate! This is the third of our new series That’ll Be The Debut, where we meet debut authors who are finally leaving the Slushpile behind. Today's three have all written Young Adult novels. View the list of other debuts we've featured so far
Paula Rawsthorne spent her time on the Slushpile well - winning the 2004 BBC Get Writing Competition with her comedy The Sermon on the Mount - which was ready by no less than Bill Nighy on BBC Radio 4 and chosen Pick of the Week. Her YA thriller, The Truth About Celia Frost (great title!) was one of the 2010 winners of the Undiscovered Voices competition. She lives in Nottingham with her husband and children.
I first met Angela Cerrito at a critique session at one of the SCBWI Conferences in Bologna and I was totally bowled over by the chapter she read for critique. I was absolutely convinced that Angela was on the right track to publication ... she did in fact win SCBWI's coveted Work-in-Progress Grant one year, but it was still a while before she was discovered. That impressive chapter I first heard in Bologna is now available in book form as The End of the Line. So happy for you, Angela! She lives in Germany with her husband and two daughters.
Candy Gourlay I asked the previous lot what it was like to have a dream come true - what was it like for you guys when you were on the Slushpile and how did it feel when you got a book deal?
Agent submissions to publishing houses = STRESS, some very close rejections, and a lot of wondering if I should rewrite the whole dang novel.
Candy What worked in the end? What opened the door?
Candy Well done. But even getting a deal can be frustrating. When I got my deal I was struck by what a series of anticlimaxes it was - a series of long waits before you could announce anything.
Thirteen year old Robbie has reached the end of the line. At Great Oaks Schools there’s no time off for good behavior. His story is at times hilarious, at times horrifying - but if Robbie is to survive, he must confront the truth: he is a murderer.
Candy You all write edgy YA - how edgy can the YA readership take? where did your edginess come from?
Candy Yeah, right.
teacher’s guide on my website.
It's interesting to see how Angela perceived her story and how others, in the business, viewed it! In life, the issues that require the most debate and thought are usually the most uncomfortable so we shouldn't be afraid of YA novels that get readers thinking about issues that may touch their lives now or in the future.
We shouldn't be afraid of YA novels that get readers thinking about issues that may touch their lives now or in the future. Paula Rawsthorne
Candy There's been quite a big hoo-hah over one author's comments about YA being too dark. Megan Cox Gurdon said YA books invited "teenagers to wallow in ugliness, barbarity, dysfunction and cruelty" and got an angry response from other authors including Judy Blume and Libba Bray (Read Jackie Marchant's report on the debate Is Young Adult Fiction Safe for Young Adults to Read?).
Teen and YA readers are a very particular market. do you write for your readers or do you write for yourself? do you think there is a universality in the teen experience that transcends time?
Candy How far are you prepared to go to tell your story? Would you censor yourself to say, lift some of the darkness? My next book (working title: Shine) is slightly older and a lot darker than my debut novel Tall Story but I really worked hard to hold back on swear words.
I write for my characters not my readers or myself ... I don't believe there's a universal teen experience. Angela Cerrito
Candy Will you always write for this age group or do you aspire for others?
Working Partners, I get to dabble in other genres and younger and older markets. I've worked on sparkly stories for young girls and action-adventure stories for tween boys and a bit of everything in between. I'm lucky that I can experiment with all types of fiction in my 'day job'.
But my personal projects tend to be for teens. It's a great market and I don't have any immediate plans to change -- but never say never.
Candy Recently there was a flurry of tweeting under the hashtag #YAsaves. This was in response to that Gurdon article. But if YA saves, there is also a danger of viewing teen books as self help as explained in this article ... It seems to me there's a serious lack of respect for YA in the non-YA-loving world. Why is that?
It's great stories of all genres -- yes, some dark and edgy - and some really incredible writing, characters and ideas. I think any time something becomes successful -- Harry Potter or Twilight, for example -- it's an easy target.
I also think some of these critics don't give teen readers enough credit. Shouldn't your teen years -- wait, your whole life really -- be about exploring new ideas? Some of which you reject and some you consider but ultimately you decide for yourself. Young adults are picking up books and reading. Isn't that something to celebrate?
I think some of these critics don't give teen readers enough credit. Sara Grant
Candy Can you all talk about your current WIPS? Any plans for the future? Publication dates even?
I'm having a bit of an out of body experience week as I've just had the book launch for Celia Frost which made me giddy with excess happiness! It was fantastic to see lots of very lovely, very happy people joining me to celebrate. If you want to see some pics just go to the website.
Usborne, my publishers were amazing as ever and the next evening I got to have dinner in a posh, trendy hotel with some lovely reviewers, booksellers and the wonderful Usborne team. I wish I'd bought a doggy bag!!
Half Lives chronicles the journey of two unlikely heroes – Icie and Beckett. Both struggle to keep themselves alive and protect future generations from the terrible fate that awaits any who dare to climb the mountain. Even though they live hundreds of years apart, Icie and Beckett’s lives are mysteriously linked. Half Lives is a race against time and the battle to save future generations. It’s about the nature of faith and power of miscommunication – and above all the strength of the human spirit to adapt and survive.
Candy Wow, she knows how to sell it!
My WIP is another psychological thriller for YAs. I'm hoping it's gripping, intense, twisting but has moments of real humour. It opens with a terrible shocker and I'm already getting too emotionally involved with my meaty cast of characters (I think I might require therapy after finishing this one).
Candy Thank you, ladies. Congratulations again -- it must be a thrill to be a part of one of the fastest growing genres in fiction world-wide!
- Part One - Dave Cousins (15 Days Without a Head), Katie Dale (Someone Else's Life) and Bryony Pearce (Angel's Fury)
- Part Two - Janet Foxley (Muncle Trogg), Caroline Green(Dark Ride) and Helen Peters (The Secret Henhouse Theatre)
- Part Three - Angela Cerrito (End of the Line), Sara Grant (Dark Parties) and Paula Rawsthorne (The Truth About Celia Frost)
- Part Four - Juliet Clare Bell (Don't Panic Annika), Julie Fulton (Mrs MacCready Was Ever So Greedy) and Linda Ravin Lodding (The Busy Life of Ernestine Buckmeister)
Candy Gourlay's debut novel Tall Story was published in June last year. Her second novel Shine will be published by David Fickling Books in March 2012.