Saturday, 28 April 2012

Editing Tales


All day I've been thinking, what can I blog about, what can I blog about?, so this post is pretty late for me - it's just gone nine here in Britain. 

Anyway, I've settled on talking about editing, since I myself will be entering the edit cave soon in regards to my short story collection, which should be really fun. 

I've come a long way since I first started editing, or at least I like to think I have. I was terrified of editing. Me and proofreading, let alone editing, didn't used to be friends. Which was ridiculously silly of me, but when we're young we all make mistakes. So the thought of editing my first completed novel a few years ago, which was basically proofreading times a million, scared me. But eventually I gathered my courage, donned my metaphorical torch, and entered the petrifying editing cave . . .

And it was great! I loved editing. This process, which I had so long feared, I actually enjoyed. I enjoyed reading through my work; remembering scenes; re-working things to get them just right. Plus there is no thrill like deleting thousands of awful, unnecessary words from your manuscript. At one point I started to question whether I was cutting too much - it got that crazy. 

But, nevertheless, I did it. Suddenly editing wasn't so scary anymore. I suppose it goes to show that just because something looks horrible and menacing, it might actually be a great experience waiting to happen. Obviously there were times where editing seemed endless; where I felt like it would never be complete; where I was incredibly tired of hearing my own voice reading aloud that same, awful sentence. But you carry on. This ties in somewhat with my Ulysses post. Keep striving. Keep finding. Don't yield. (That metaphor can be used for anything!)

So to sum up, the editing cave really isn't that awful. Actually, it can be quite fun. I can't wait to go back to editing, which I'm sure will be on and off - things are pretty busy in life right now - but regardless, I'll keep you all updated. Also, I wanted to say a big thank you to everybody who commented on Lucky Number Seven; all your positive words meant so much to me! Plus it was great getting feedback. Hopefully you'll hear more excerpts in the future (once they're edited that is!). 

What was your first experience with editing like? Do you enjoy it, or do you still find it to be an awful process?

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Lucky Number Seven


I was tagged by Stephanie Sinkhorn, which means I get to share an excerpt from the first draft of my short story collection! 

The rules: 

      1.)    Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP
2.) Go to line 7.
3.) Copy down the next 7 lines – sentences or paragraphs – and post them as they’re written. No cheating.
4.) Tag 7 authors.
5.) Let them know

This is from one of the short stories called The Fear. This story is narrated by Cherie (there are three different characters which alternate narration with each story). I hope you enjoy!

Now that I spend my entire life terrified, I've found ways to hide the fear. In the daytime, I go about my business calmly, perhaps to Lana and Tate seeming even effortless in my actions. Yet, I still pick the targets in the factory carefully, oh so carefully. If any of us choose one wrong informant, the whole operation will be over.
Laying sleeplessly in bed, my eyes drift over to the front door.
Every night I expect a knock. Every night I expect the apartment to be engulfed in flames, to finally be punished for what we are doing – we are resistors, and sooner or later, the government will find us.

It’s rather dystopian (I love dystopia too much . . .) but I had a lot of fun writing it for the last two months, and I can’t wait to go back and edit it all! It's still very first-drafty at the moment - I think the first paragraph needs a lot of work.

Instead of tagging anybody, I’ll leave it up to you as to whether you want to share what you’re working on. If you do take up the challenge, feel free to let me know; I’d love to offer some comments and see what you’re currently writing.

Also, I would love to hear some critique from you all. Any comment is welcome. Let me know what you thought!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

'To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield'


If you don’t recognise the quote, it’s from Ulysses, a poem by Alfred Tennyson. It’s a great poem, but today I want to focus on that final line. 

Striving, seeking, finding, not yielding – it’s something we all look to do in life. Also, and this is what I really want to focus on, what we look to do in writing. 

To strive:

As writers, we are always striving to make ourselves better, to make our writing better. We should constantly be pushing boundaries in our writing, as well as in our skills and craftsmanship. 

To seek:

Whether it’s seeking a publishing contract, seeking the end of that novel, or just seeking new ideas – all can be incorporated into our writing. 

To find:

Finding our passion for writing is crucial. Sometimes writing can be a stomach-churning, agonising pain (we all know the impact of writer’s block) but a lot of the time, it’s exciting and enthralling and fun. But in order to reach the highs, we first have to endure the lows and find the passion for writing which accompanies the joy. 

And not to yield:

Basically – don’t give up. You might think your writing is rubbish. That might be true, that might not be true; either way, it doesn’t matter. Don’t give up. You will get better, but in order to do that, you will have to put in the hard work. Which is tough. But gather up your inner Ulysses, and persevere. 

So the next time you’re struggling, or are just trying to find the motivation to write, take a tip from Tennyson. Remember the need to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield. Gather your courage. Then, all that’s left to do is get on and write.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Facing Your Writing Fears


A while ago, I told myself that I would do more things which scared me. Not because I’m a masochist, but because sometimes we need to do things which scare ourselves to progress and to face our fears. I had a nice little reminder of that today, and I think facing your fears can also be said for writing. 

In writing, and especially in publishing, there’s a lot of fear to combat. Let’s face it – the publishing industry requires a lot of rejection on our part. Sending queries, getting an agent, going on submission . . . there is a lot of waiting, and a lot of rejection. But you do it anyway: eventually, there will be an end to the tunnel. Hopefully that tunnel ends with you getting published. Natalie Whipple is a great example of a writer who has had to overcome a lot of rejection and fear simply to pursue her dream of being a published author. 

But writing isn’t all about publishing. Many people don’t write with the aim of publishing, but just for the pure joy of writing. There’s nothing wrong with that. The more you write, the more skills you’ll acquire, the more practiced you’ll be and the more stories you’ll be able to tell. But you still have to face those fears. I know I’ve faced a lot of writing fears over the years. 

So, face them! Write in a different characters’ perspective. Sit down and edit that novel. Send your writing off to be critiqued. Go to writing conventions and network. 

There are too many different opportunities which can be missed by refusing to face your fears. Ultimately, facing those demons can get you to where you want to be. There is an end to the tunnel. You only have to push yourself far enough to see it. 

What are some of your writing fears?

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Small Thoughts on The Handmaid's Tale


On my post about dystopia, Farrell asked me if I read any Margaret Atwood. A few years ago, The Handmaid’s Tale was recommended to me. I bought it, got to Chapter 5 and put it down again, not to be picked up again until last weekend. I remembered the comment, and I thought I’d try reading it again. I’m incredibly glad I did. 

For anybody that hasn’t heard of The Haidmaid’s Tale, it is set in a dystopian future US, renamed Gilead, in which a nuclear accident and other factors have seen a massive decline in birth rates (the backdrop of the novel reminded me somewhat of The Children of Men by P.D. James). To remedy this, Gilead, overwhelmed by religious extremism, has decreed that a select amount of women must be Handmaids. This means they must serve high ranking couples who are childless and bear them a child, if the wife is unable to conceive. Offred, the main character in The Handmaid’s Tale, is essentially telling the reader about how she came to be a Handmaid, giving flashbacks to her former life in the US, along with her current situation as Handmaid to a Commander and his wife. 

There are a lot of themes in this that I didn’t grasp when I first tried to read it. It’s very critical of religious extremism, and the control religion has over our society. The religion in question was Christianity, which I found interesting, since typically religious extremism is usually associated with other religions. But in The Handmaid’s Tale, this was not the case. Of course, religion is very important in America, much more important than in Britain. Former contender for GOP presidential nomination, Rick Santorum, and the Christian right of the Republican Party are a very good example of this; religion in America is not only a personal issue, but a political one too (then again I would say this, I study American politics).

Since the novel was published in 1985, decades before the 'War on Terror' and our modern acquaintance with religious extremism, I imagine the novel was quite shocking to some when it first came out. I’m not especially religious, but I would think the way Atwood criticises the Bible through her novel would be incredibly shocking to anybody who is more religious. Alongside this are the aspects of feminism which come into her novel; since the ‘new feminism’ movement of the 60s and 70s had just been and gone, I’m not surprised Atwood was influenced by this. 

It was a very thought-provoking novel. I really enjoyed it, as it was an atypical dystopian vision. I liked the feminist implications within it – I’m somewhat of a feminist myself – and it was interesting to see how Offred challenges her society and the regime enforced on her. I thought the mixture between Offred’s flashbacks of her past, her training at the Red Centre (where they train Handmaid’s) and her current life was intriguing. It kept you reading because you wanted to find out more about her past, or more about the present, and I liked that. There were many times when I had to stop reading, not by choice, but simply because I had other things which had to be done. Considering my busy schedule, I finished it in three days – I think that says it all. 

I'll definitely read more of Atwood’s novels. It was an good read, and since I’ve been re-reading a lot of books solely for education recently (I also study English Literature), it was a nice way to escape that reading rut. Also, I’m very excited that there’s a whole stack of new books I can add to the to-be-read list! 

Have you read any of Margaret Atwood’s novels? If not, what are your thoughts on my description of The Handmaid’s Tale?

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

My Thoughts on The Hunger Games Film

I went to go see The Hunger Games movie on Saturday, and I thought I would share a few comments about it here. For anybody who hasn’t seen it, I’m sorry if this includes any spoilers!
Overall, I think the film was a good representation of the book. I didn’t like some of the changes they made, and whilst readers of The Hunger Games will find various inaccuracies – there were too many to count! – spotting everything that is wrong with the film shouldn’t debase it. As a film adaptation, readers are always going to be horrified by the things which are cut and the things which are added in; that’s the nature of film adaptations, as much as it might not be nice.
Nevertheless, there were positive things about the movie. I really loved their inclusion of Seneca Crane and the Gamemakers. I think it gave the film another edge, and considering we don’t hear about Seneca Crane until Catching Fire, it was a really good addition. It’s another reminder to the audience about the concept of the Games, and how warped a reality show it really is; it highlights who we are supposed to be rooting for. When Seneca Crane was first introduced into the film, I was wary – by the end of the film I absolutely loved the separate arc they created for him. It was brilliant, and I think it was one of the only additions which drew away from the text of the book that made the film better rather than worse.
Saying that, I did happen to like the featured uprising in District 11. Prior to seeing the film, a friend had already told me about this addition, and like Seneca Crane I was wary. But I think it was done well, and it gave the film makers another chance at world building. It really set up for Catching Fire, and I liked getting the outsider perspective again, even if the action in the arena was quite enthralling in itself.
A friend I went to go see the film with – there was a group of us – who hadn’t read the books remarked afterwards about the disorientating camera angles and shots. Kristin Cashore even said she got motion sickness from the film, which I can completely understand considering the pace of the shots. But I told my friend that they had to film The Hunger Games this way. The fact is, the novels are aimed at teens. It might be incredibly graphic on paper, but when put into film it’s something completely different. If they had filmed it with all its gore and violence intact, The Hunger Games would have easily failed to secure the PG-13 rating and the British 12A rating it needed, along with the younger ratings from other countries. The film would have massively lost out on a large percentage of its target audience, akin to the recent Bully controversy. So whilst it might have seemed disorientating, the filming was ultimately necessary. I didn’t think it drew away from the film too much, but then again, I didn’t get motion sickness.
I feel like the casting wasn’t quite right for me. I have to admit that Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss surprised me – she did much better in her role, considering the high expectations, than I thought she would and I have to commend her for that. I thought the person they cast as Gale was far too pretty for what his character is meant to be. Gale is attractive, yes, but supposedly in a rugged sort of way, not an Abercrombie and Fitch advertisement sort of way. Cato was also ridiculously handsome, but that didn’t bother me too much. Initially I hated the person cast as Peeta. He didn’t fit into my imagining of Peeta at all, although I did start to slightly warm to him as they got more into the plot of the arena. I didn’t like the casting of Haymitch either – one of my friends even said he looked Australian! Also, Effie was far too old in my eyes; I picture her as quite young, in her twenties, and I know my friend agreed. However, I loved the casting of Caesar Flickerman; they got him perfectly. They also captured the essence of Cinna incredibly well. But these are only my personal reflections on casting.
There were many moments for me that were laughable when they weren’t supposed to be laughable, but I think I was in the minority about this. I won’t detail all the moments – I have to say there are too many for me to actually detail – but again, this was only my opinion.
So to summarise, it was a good film. I had resolved up until last week that I wasn’t going to go see it. This was a book I first read in 2008; I remember counting down the days until its release. Of course I was going to be worried about it being immortalised in film. But I decided that actually, I would go, and I have to say I’m glad. I’ll definitely go see Catching Fire when it comes out. For all its mistakes, and there were plenty, I still think it was a good reflection on the books. Not amazing. But good. And I can’t ask for more than that, can I?
Did you go see the film? What were your thoughts?

Saturday, 14 April 2012

What Your Writing Says About You

I think what we write, whether it be our genre, target market or character creation, can say a lot about you as a person.
For me at least I think this is true. I tend to write dystopian-esque fiction because as previously noted, I’m a massive fan of dystopia. I have tended to write YA in the past because I want to write the type of novel I myself would want to read. I create characters with characteristics that I myself aspire to.
But yesterday I began to think about this a little more. I realised something yesterday, and it actually surprised me, even though I probably should have been more aware of it. Out of anything major I’ve ever written (I’m talking novels, even incomplete, and my latest collection of short stories), my protagonist has always been an only child. They’ve never had a sibling. Other characters I’ve written have had siblings, even major characters have had siblings, but never my main character. That might not seem strange to you. But it is strange to me, because I’m not an only child. I have a sister.
I’ve read books where the main character has a sibling or many siblings, and I have nothing against these books. The first example in my mind would be The Hunger Games – the movie of which I’m finally going to see today! – with Katniss and Prim. Prim, if anything, adds to Katniss’ character rather than degrades it. Through Prim we see a side to Katniss that not a lot of other characters see, and we begin to relate to her through Prim. I would even go as far to say that if you took away Prim from The Hunger Games series, it would be a massive detriment to Katniss as a character.
So how does this newly discovered fact about my writing reflect on myself? Well, unlike Katniss and Prim, I don’t have a good relationship with my sister. I’m the youngest, which meant my sister grew up and I hadn’t quite got there yet. I was left behind. My sister became a teenager, she moved on to better things, and ever since then our relationship hasn’t been ideal. These days she only ever speaks to me if she needs something, and whilst I hope that changes in the future (I would like to have a better relationship with my sister) I’m not entirely sure it will.
But back to writing. I think the reason my main characters don’t have siblings is because out of all the characters in my novels, they are the ones who greatest reflect me. Maybe it's simply a coincidence, and the thought of writing in an MC with a sibling just never occurred to me. But perhaps I never saw my MCs with a sibling because the fact is, I don’t see myself as having a great relationship with my sibling. So it became easier for me to simply not to create one for my protagonist.
The next time I sit down to write something major, I might create a sibling for my main character. Whilst it could be a challenge for me, it will hopefully create a different dynamic for the premise of the novel. It’s just strange to think such a major element of my writing could have been so affected by something as simple as not having a good relationship with my sister.
What about you? How well do you think your writing reflects you as a person? Can you see elements of yourself in your protagonists?  

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Is Our Dependence on Technology Destructive?

I am one of the first people to admit that I love technology. But it occurred to me last night that maybe in some ways, technology can be much more harmful than it is helpful.
We’re all aware of the growth of social networking, and I think it’s a great tool for being able to connect with people, share new ideas and generally exchange different perspectives from around the globe. For anybody looking to pursue a writing career it’s become almost invaluable. But can our obsession with social networking be destructive? I own a smartphone which has constant internet access – as a result, I’m always checking my blogs and social networking sites. Sometimes I think that if I were to add up all the hours a week I spend on social networking, it would be truly shocking. So more often than not, I push this thought to the back of my mind. Perhaps it shouldn’t be ignored. We have to ask ourselves, when does moderation stop and obsession begin? When does it get to the point that being on social networking sites is actively preventing you from doing something productive?
I’m not trying to say social networking is evil, because I don’t believe it is. However, I do worry for the future. We as a society are already so obsessed with technology, and with the advances in technology increasing by the day, it might only get worse. I have no idea how many hours I spend on social networking, but I would put money on the fact that in ten years time, somebody my age will be spending far more hours on it than I. Which I think is scary.
Let’s look to the internet as a whole. It has no doubt been a revolutionary tool. I have no idea what I’d do without the internet – read more I guess? – because it’s become such an integral part of my life. I think a lot of other people would say the same. Despite this, studies have shown the more time we spend on the internet, the worse our concentration gets. When we’re spending hours looking at bite-sized pieces of information, it gets harder and harder to concentrate for longer periods of time.
I myself will admit I’ve been watching a film at home, or I’ve been in the middle of a book, and I find myself reaching for my phone. Not because I realised I had a super important message to send, or that I forgot to do something, but simply because the thought of checking my social networking sites, checking the news, is at the back of my mind. A film should be enough to entertain me for two hours, but I’m increasingly finding that sometimes, out of habit even, I’m reaching for my phone and checking all my updates.
This blog post was inspired last night. It was 2am, and I had woken up because I was too hot. I tried to get back to sleep for a while, but failing this, I eventually decided to check my phone and the internet for anything new. It was then that I realised how crazy that is. In the UK, there’s a show called Supersize vs. Superskinny, where an obese person and an underweight person, both adamantly trying to change their ways, exchange diets. In some episodes, the obese person has been known to get up in the middle of the night simply to give the underweight person their usual midnight snack. Usually, I sit watching this thinking how ridiculous it is that anybody would need to eat a snack in the middle of the night. But isn’t me checking my phone the same thing? It’s an obsession, it’s habit – it has ceased to appear ridiculous. The problem is that it is ridiculous.
I’m not the only person to notice this. I read an interesting book a few months ago on my Kindle, called Pharmacology by Christopher Herz. It takes place in 1993 in San Francisco as the internet revolution has begun to expand. The protagonist Sarah becomes involved in a pharmaceutical company in an attempt to expose their corrupted ways but in the end (SPOILERS!) Sarah realises it’s her that’s the experiment – the company is using Sarah to test her dependency on the internet, which they believe has led her and all the other workers to develop ADHD. It’s an incredibly critical take on the internet, but in some respects, I can’t help but feel that Herz has a point. We are already being damaged by the technology we created. This again could be said to go back to Farrell’s comment on my post about dystopia – technology is a major force in our society, and nobody knows how long it will take before it starts to control us. Arguably, it already is.
Again, I’m not looking to completely demonise the internet or social networking, because I truly believe both are incredibly positive things in society. Yet we still have to recognise the risks that come with the internet. The fact is, it can be destructive. It can prevent you doing things which may be important – look how the word procrastination has boomed since the invention of the internet. So it’s up to us to moderate our time on the internet. To remember our priorities, and not to use the internet to excess: we have to make sure it’s us controlling technology, and not technology controlling us. If Herz is to be believed, then it looks like we only have a small matter of time before it does . . .

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Changing the Process

I hope everybody had a wonderful Easter weekend – I know I did! But it’s back to business now, which means back to writing.
I’m attempting a somewhat new approach (for me anyway) to writing this year. For the first time in a long, long while, instead of focusing on a novel I’m focusing on a collection of short stories. Like a novel, but in many respects, completely different from a novel.
For instance, usually I’d be busy outlining, creating timelines, deciding chapter lengths and thinking about plot arcs . . . I’m not doing any of that this time. I’m going back to an old style of writing, and instead of being so rigid with my planning, I’m simply letting my creativity run free. Which means I have no idea what’s going to happen in my stories!
It’s fun. I think I needed this change to get my mind back into writing, and to remind myself how good it is to simply be creative rather than focusing too much on the process. I don’t want the fun of writing to get lost in the process, and whilst that doesn’t happen often, I’m not saying it hasn’t happened in the past. When you’re spending lots of time updating a timeline, ticking off plot and scenes that you had planned out, trying to mentally construct the next plot twist etc. etc., you lose a lot of time which could be spent writing. I’m not saying that all those parts of the process aren’t useful – they’re incredibly useful, in fact – but I needed to get back to basics. To get myself out of my writing slump, I needed a little reminder of why I love writing so much. This is something I plan to do for a long time; that doesn’t mean that I can’t have a little fun with it.
Another new thing which I’m doing is planning when I’ll write. I didn’t do that before. It’s almost like a role reversal: instead of planning the writing I’m planning the time to write and letting the writing take care of itself (that was a little bit of a tongue twister!). But it’s true. By being organised about when I’m going to write I know that whatever the outcome of my stories, there will eventually be an outcome. The fantastic thing with short stories is that it’s far easier to see the end of the tunnel than in a novel. When you’re only writing 10,000 words a story, 2,500 words a day doesn’t become so much of a task. Writing doesn’t become an endless struggle.
The plan is working. I’m on track to finish my collection of stories by the end of the month, and it should come in at around 60,000-70,000 words collectively. Which is about the size of a novel. But by focusing on the shorter pieces, and breaking down each story into 10,000 words, it’s become a much smaller task. I’m very excited to be working on this smaller project, and I’m really glad that I’ve had the opportunity to create new characters, new worlds and a fresh piece of work to focus on. I feel like this project has given me my creativity back, and honestly, I don’t think you can ever put a price on that.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Why I Love Dystopia

On Twitter, I got asked a very good question by @10MinuteWriter: why do you like dystopia? I don’t think it’s a question which can be summed up in 140 characters, so I thought I’d write a blog explaining why I love dystopian fiction so much.
I think all literature makes comments about society. Whether readers recognise these comments or not, I think you can always relate novels back to the society the author lives in, whether that's modern society, decades or centuries ago. It’s inescapable – we are a product of the environment we’re raised it. Thus, we’re bound to have some sort of underlying social commentary lurking in our writing.
But dystopian literature transcends this. Dystopia actively criticises society; it highlights things about us that maybe we’d rather not think about. Dystopia is a reality check in some ways, because as happy as we can be in society, it reminds us that there are always flaws lying beneath the surface.
When I was younger, I used to always imagine scenarios of the worst things that could happen (I’ve never really been an optimist). I spent so much time thinking about these things, not because I was afraid of them, but because if these things happened, I wanted to be prepared. I know it doesn’t make much sense, since most of the things I imagined were totally insane and perhaps even impossible. But it all focused on this central idea of, if this happened to me, what would I do? Like I was putting myself inside a story. I suppose my love of dystopia could be said to stem somewhat from this.
Whilst dystopia does massively exaggerate the flaws in our society, it still presents these corrupt, totalitarian worlds which characters are forced to live and act in. Typically, characters in dystopian fiction are strong-willed, courageous, and whilst they are flawed, still try to do what they believe is right. I admire those qualities, and I’m not the sort of person who sits around and waits for things to happen. So perhaps that could be another reason why I like dystopian fiction.
Dystopia to me is like a terrifying characterture on society. These novels make you think about what’s wrong with the world, about the sorts of people who could exist. In a way, dystopia is a reminder to never give up on your morals and to keep fighting for things you believe in. Nineteen-Eighty Four, Atlas Shrugged, Uglies, Delirium – all these dystopian books have that quality and I love them for that. They’re about characters who rather than stepping back and letting the world trample all over them, get up and say, hey, this isn’t right. I think that’s something more people need to do in modern society. Because once you start letting the little things pass, the big things start to pass too. And soon, there’s nobody left to stand up for you.
People might not engage with dystopia because it isn’t realistic. But there is evil in the world, whether we like it or not. Dictators like Hitler and Stalin, people let them control society because not enough people could stand up and say that this wasn’t right. Things build up, and sometimes, they have terrifying consequences. Obviously, both of those people are incredibly extreme situations. But they’re also real.
I do think dystopia offers a reality check. I do think dystopian characters are admirable. I do think dystopia makes you question yourself, and makes you think about what sort of person you want to be. Dystopia is a very real comment on society, and it reassures me that as long as people keeping reading dystopia, and keep being aware of what’s happening in society, then hopefully we’ll all learn from the mistakes of our past. When we forget our mistakes and stop standing up for what we believe in, that’s when trouble begins.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Age

There is sometimes a stigma regarding authors writing YA. It’s been going on for years, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to magically disappear anytime soon. Even recently, I read Kristin Cashore’s post on Joel Stein criticising the depth of language (among other things) in YA and I was horrified. So, here’s my opinion on age in books.
For some reason, in the strange mind of people with this stigma, adults that write YA are seen as trying to relive their youth, not as credible as adult fiction writers, and claim that nobody older than a teenager can read YA. This stereotype is incredibly illogical, offensive and frankly, just plain wrong.

Any writer that has managed to publish a book, or any work in fact, should not be judged by what they write. Many children’s writers will tell you writing children’s books is an art form. I for one have the utmost respect for any writer, regardless of their age or what age group they write for.

There is nothing that says books aimed at teenagers can’t be sophisticated and cutting edge and gripping and a whole number of other things. Everybody has been a teenager, so what makes YA novels any less relatable than general fiction? Furthermore, what makes an author writing about teenagers any less talented than an author writing for adults? A good book isn’t categorised by what age the book is written for: a good book is mostly down to the hard work of a skilled, talented writer who has spent months or years writing and redrafting their novel. Sure, they may have been helped by their agent, editor and publishing house, but it’s the author who has done the hard graft to write an amazing book. That shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Let’s look at incredibly successful YA books which both teens and adults have enjoyed. Harry Potter. The Hunger Games. Twilight. It doesn’t matter what my – nor anybody else’s – opinion is on these books. The fact is, they have jumped across age barriers and been wildly successful, both with and without the film franchises that came with them. I could easily add Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series, Lauren Oliver’s Delirium trilogy and Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy to this list. These are all YA books. Yet it’s their themes – love, action, death, romance – which make them popular. It’s the way authors make you as a reader emote with their characters. That is what makes these books cross platforms.

Let’s also look at the age of authors themselves. Christopher Paolini wrote Eragon as a teenager. He published under his parent’s company before touring in schools, libraries and anywhere else he could find to promote the book. Eventually, publisher Alfred A. Knopf picked it up and it went on to sell over twenty million copies.

Another example would be Steph Bowe, who had her debut novel, Girl Saves Boy, published when she was sixteen. While some have openly criticised her for going into the industry too young, the fact is, she went through the same publishing process as everybody else. She has sold books. So what does it matter that she’s only eighteen years old now? Thankfully, a majority of critics have praised her first novel, regardless of her age.

Age is just a number. I don’t think anybody has a right to criticise a writer for which audience they write about nor how old they themselves may be. Don’t judge a book by its cover, and don’t judge a book by age. It’s that simple.