Teens on Moon Lane

Luisa, Keris, Sarra and Simmone

Luisa, Keris, Sarra and Simmone

What better way to celebrate 4 glorious years of Chicklish, the UK’s very first teen/YA book blog, than with a celebration of books by its founders and friends?  Luisa Plaja, Keris Stainton, Sarra Manning and Simmone Howell treated Dulwich to readings, a Q&A, and signings (thanks to the indie bookshop Tales on Moon Lane, who also kindly gave me directions to the event as I am an utter donkey who apparently likes to get to these things 30 minutes late looking like a sweaty beetroot).  The discussion ranged from sources of inspiration (the whole panel confessed to being developmentally stuck circa age 15/16: oh, how I relate), to plan or not to plan (Sarra: YES! Everyone else: NO!) and their varied routes into writing for teens.

What stuck out most of all, though, was the fondness and respect there is for Chicklish, and all the YA book bloggers who have followed here in the UK, and worldwide. Those of us who write contemporary fiction for teenage girls don’t tend to snag award nominations or broadsheet reviews: instead we’re reviewed by our readers, online, because they love books and want to share them. All hail them. And lucky us.

Cheers, ladies, for a fabulous evening! (And to the just-as-fabulous Sophia Bennett, who cooked me dinner and walked me to my train after more booky nattering.)  Can we do it all again next year?

I broke my usual ‘no non-fiction unless I get to write an essay about it later’ rule for Libby Brooks’ The Story of Childhood, profiles of 12 children and young adults living in modern Britain. I should break that rule more often: it’s well-written, thought-provoking stuff, prodding at our strange cultural doublethink of over-protective child-panic, and the demonisation of the feral teen.  Also Gayle Forman’s If I Stay, which is one of those oddities where I can tell objectively that I’m reading a ‘good’ book without really connecting with it (though it reduced me to a sniffly weepy mess several times with perfect efficiency). Now galloping through Nicola Morgan’s Wasted, which turns on such a brilliant premise that it starts to creep into your brain, and leave you standing in the Co-Op, holding carrots in one hand and crisps in the other, wondering if this decision might be about more than my dipping-things-in-houmous choices, and how I’ll never ever know…

Ahhh, writing: sometimes it’s awesome and lovely and you’ve just written the funniest cleverest most emotionally gobsmacking sentence  OF YOUR ENTIRE WRITING LIFE, and sometimes you hate everything you do.  Mostly the reality is actually a wiggly line between those two – but not always, and sometimes the ‘oh dear, this book is bobbins, argh help flail’ feeling takes root for good reasons.  Which is a long way of saying I think like I’ve got a lot of rewriting to do on Project Poppy, so you might not see it for a little while.  Have gone from quivery meep-mode to a cheering sense that this makes me a Proper Writer type – Sophia Bennett told me she wrote 32 drafts of Threads (which is brilliant, by the way: high fashion and child soldiers in Uganda, and funnyfunnyfunny) before it was done. THIRTY-TWO.  I’m such a slacker – all the way to feeling a  bit excited, as I’ve got the loveliest idea for how to rewrite it…

Skipping around the New Forest with sister and family, where ponies stand in the middle of the road looking imperiously at cars and Bournemouth beach makes me ultra-freckly (or ‘spotty’, as Small Person would have it); hanging out with old college mates in old college pubs, and feeling cheered by how people’s lives work out (mine included); loving Matt Smith’s Doctor Who (and Amy, and Rory, and everything in it at all ever) like a big ninny.

Picnic spot: lighthouse at Hurst Castle

My holiday picnic spot: lighthouse at Hurst Castle

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9 thoughts on “Teens on Moon Lane

  1. Pingback: Happy 4th Birthday, Chicklish! « Keris Stainton

  2. “Sweaty Beetroot” has now been added to the list of potential band names.

    This series of Doctor Who has been, overall, the best since the reboot. Hurrah for the Moffmeister!

    rrr, AmyPond, rrrrr!

  3. 32 drafts – hah! I think I have it easy – recipe – write book, leave in drawer for 10 years then OMG – do edit and chop out three quarters. Works a treat.

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