In case you didn’t know, YA Shot is a young adult festival hosted in Uxbridge and there are a bunch of bookish activies like book signings and writing and v/blogging workshops and generally just sounds like a fantastic event! I mean, it combines all things books!
You can read more about YA Shot and get your tickets here!
As part of YA Shot, a bunch of bloggers/vloggers and authors are working together to bring together amazing content and so today, Martyn Bedford has been kind enough to put together a little something for you guys! Here is a piece on why he decided to switch to writing YA!
After producing five books for adults, award-winning novelist Martyn Bedford now writes teenage fiction. Here he explains why he made the switch to a different readership.
I have a former editor to thank for my first novel for teenagers – I wrote it because he advised me not to. After more than 12 years writing fiction for adults I had an idea for a story more suited to a younger audience.
When I mentioned it over a pizza one day, the editor shook his head.
“You don’t want to write one of those.”
“Why not?” I asked.
He didn’t really give a reason, just shook his head again. With the teen market so buoyant, perhaps he thought I was jumping on the bandwagon, or that I wouldn’t be able to write well for that readership. Maybe he foresaw a “re-branding” problem.
Whatever, I came away from that lunch feeling cross. Like any author, I resented being told what to write – or what not to write (he hadn’t even asked what the story was about!) I decided to go ahead with my YA novel and to hell with him, even if he had just paid for my pizza.
And so I started work on Flip. It tells the story of Alex, a 14-year-old who wakes up one morning to find that his soul (consciousness, spirit, psyche, or whatever you care to call it) has switched to another boy’s body and he faces a life-and-death quest to return to his own skin or be trapped for ever in the wrong existence.
As soon as I had the idea, I knew it was a book for teenagers – not just due to the age of the hero but because of the story’s themes of identity, self-awareness and self-image. As a teenager, I didn’t much like myself. I often wondered what it would be like to be someone else. Someone better looking, more popular, more athletic, more successful with girls. Someone who didn’t have asthma. Real life never made that possible so I created Alex and let it happen to him.
Having decided this was to be a YA novel, the odd thing was that – as I tapped away at my laptop – I never really felt like I was writing ‘for’ teenagers. I wrote in much the same way as I’d always done: I had a tale to tell and characters to bring alive. The only young person I was writing ‘for’ was the teenager I once was. I just hoped it would strike a chord with today’s YA generation.
The same was true of my second YA novel, Never Ending, about a girl torn apart by grief and guilt after the death of her brother on a family holiday. If I lay down on a psychiatrist’s couch, she might ask if I was really using the book to work through my ‘issues’ of having grown up as an only child.
And my latest, Twenty Questions for Gloria, tells the story of a 15-year-old who falls under the spell of a new boy in her class and goes on the run with him. In letting Gloria run away from home (or school, in particular) was I giving myself the chance to live out an unfulfilled teenage dream of my own?
Who knows? All I can say is, I’ve enjoyed writing these books so much – and trying, belatedly, to make sense of the teenager I used to be – that I have no plans to return to adult fiction.
With all three YA novels, I have received helpful feedback on various drafts from teenage readers – my daughters, a niece, a friend’s son and daughter – and from my wife, who was a high-school librarian for several years. But perhaps the biggest thanks are owed to the editor at that pizza restaurant, whose advice is the best I’ve ever ignored.
I hope you guys enjoyed reading this and thank you so much to Martyn Bedford for such an excellent piece!
Twenty Questions for Gloria (Walker Books) is the story of a bored and restless 15-year-old girl enthralled by the mysterious, exotic new boy who strolls into her classroom one morning, bent on breaking all the rules. Funny, confident, smart and reckless, Uman is everything Gloria wishes to be.
When he whisks her away from the life she loathes and into a more daring, more exciting one, she jumps at the chance of an adventure. But Uman is not all he seems. And by the time she learns the truth about him, she is a long way from
home and the whole country wants to know: ‘Where’s Gloria?’
Martyn Bedford’s first novel for teenagers, Flip (2011), won four regional prizes and was shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards. Never Ending came out in 2014 and Twenty Questions for Gloria was published in February. Between them, his YA books have been translated into ten languages and have also been published in the U.S. and Canada. Visit his website: www.martynbedford.com