The Lazy Author’s Top Ten Things You Need to Know About Writing YA
1. People are going to compare you to JK Rowling. This has little to do with your writing skills and more to do with the fact that she’s the only Children’s writer they’ve heard of. I suggest you agree with them that it is exceedingly likely you’ll sell millions of books worldwide, and offer them the once in a lifetime opportunity to buy one of your first editions for a mere ten thousand pounds.
2. You’re going to spend a lot of time listening to other people’s great ideas for a kids’ book. By great, I mean stories involving talking mice, good old fashioned morals or extreme violence. By listening, I mean watching someone’s neck and wondering just how hard you’d need to squeeze to stop them going on about their work in progress, The McSqueakington’s Old Fashioned Family Massacre.
3. You’ll know you’ve made it when someone makes a flowchart that helps readers work out which of your characters they are.
4. No matter how recently you left the Young Adult category yourself, you’ll never keep up with current slang. Word.
5. No matter how recently you left education, you’ll never keep up with how they do stuff in schools. You know that they stop kids from escaping detention by using magnets these days, don’t you?
6.You’re not allowed to rip off The Simpsons.
7. People are going to ask ‘Do you think you’ll ever write for adults?’ Which roughly translates as ‘Do you think you’ll ever write a proper book?’
8. Your job is all the excuse for watching Skins / Buffy / Veronica Mars you’ll ever need.
9. When you’re asked if your protagonist is based on you as a teenager, it’s entirely acceptable to shrug modestly and attempt to look as if you foiled plots against the government before you left school (also raising one eyebrow slightly and wearing a beret works for me.)
10. Most of the people you meet will just not understand what you do, or why you do it. Fortunately, you are going to meet a whole wonderful YA community of writers, readers and bloggers who completely get it. Then we can all write blog posts cocking a snook at the rest the world. Stupid rest of the world.
10½. YA rules.
Candy Harper is the fourth of five sisters, which means she still eats with one arm shielding her plate. There are enough children’s books in her house to build a fort, but she absolutely hasn’t ever skived off work to do that.
Candy’s first book The Disappeared is a dystopian thriller set in a school where the teachers are kept in cages for their own safety. Her latest book, Have A Little Faith is about 14 year old Faith, who is in big trouble because her head of year seems to think that she is always blowing stuff up and giving supply-teachers radical haircuts. Whereas, as Faith points out, it was actually just that one time. Faith’s diary charts her blood feud with her teacher, her attempts to ignore the immaturity of old people, and her quest to find herself a boyfriend who knows how to have a good cheese fight.