Writing for children. It’s harder than you think. It’s simpler than you think. What are the misconceptions? What makes a really great book for children? What are the main age bands and what are the rules for each? What about YA and books for teenagers?
If there’s somebody who can tell you about this, it’s my co-host, independent bookseller Peter Snell.
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I was so delighted when I found out my guest this week writes to music. She’s the winner of the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) with a story of genetically enabled time travel, death threats and romance. She says music is her writing cave and time machine, shutting out the modern chaos of family life, rewinding her to times in her own past and conjuring up periods like the 1893 Columbian Exposition. She is Rysa Walker and she’s on the Red Blog with the Undercover Soundtrack to Timebound.
The heatwave may have eased for now, but it burns on in this week’s post – the soundtrack behind a story about a scandal on the Isle of Wight in 1976. Its author says her novels grow from ideas that take root and become obsessions – a process I recognise very well, as my own novels start that way. Alongside the ideas were key pieces of music – David Bowie for optimistic yearning, Nick Drake for wistfulness and Brian Eno for the unexpected and threatening. She is Isabel Ashdown and she’s on the Red Blog with her Undercover Soundtrack.
The most haunting pieces on The Undercover Soundtrack delve far deeper than inspiration. My guest this week shares a very personal story. Her debut novel, about a teenage piano prodigy, didn’t come from a captured track in headphones. It was her own brother learning Rachmaninoff piano concertos in the room above hers. The character struggles with bipolar disorder, as she has in her own life. A later novel tackles an incestuous and doomed love between brother and sister, a harsh and frightening story that she says took a severe toll on her own mental health. Her fiction has won multiple awards and her brother is finishing his studies at the Royal Academy of Music. She is Tabitha Suzuma and she’s on the Red Blog with her Undercover Soundtrack.
GIVEAWAY: Tabitha has signed print editions on offer for the three most interesting comments. If you enjoy her post, let her know!
My guest this week turned to writing novels after long years as a children’s rights lawyer representing teenagers in care. Her fiction debut, Losing Agir, was launched on Human Rights Day and is a teen thriller about a child in care and a refugee who unite to seek justice. Music helped her connect with the realities of her displaced characters’ lives, especially experiences that most of us take for granted – such as a family Christmas. She is Liz Fisher-Frank and she’s on the Red Blog talking about Losing Agir and its Undercover Soundtrack.