For the last few years I’ve been happily writing books for 8-12s, about friendship and families, feelings and funny stuff. I plan to spend this year doing much the same. But it’s been lovely to dip a toe back into Young Adult Lake for a new anthology, LOVE HURTS.
Not least because it’s an anthology compiled by Malorie Blackman. Yes, the Malorie Blackman: Children’s Laureate, superhero, actual answer on Pointless that one time. (Richard Osman said she was ace and you should read her: that’s how amazing she is.) Malorie’s done some incredible work during her tenure as Laureate: launching Project Remix, raising the profile of fiction for young adults in the UK, and above all speaking powerfully about the vital importance of diversity and inclusion in our stories – with predictably frustrating consequences.
LOVE HURTS (out today!) is a collection of extracts from new and now-classic YA novels, plus two new-to-the-UK shorts and five pieces created specially for this anthology, on the theme of ‘love against the odds’. As an introduction to the richness, range, courage and quality of YA fiction, I can’t think of better. There are excerpts here I’ve smiled at, recalling the context, wondering if I have time for a sneaky reread. Others have me restacking the bedside pile to push a neglected book to the top. Every secondary school library should have a copy.
But (I’m biased here, maybe, a tiny bit) I think the original short stories – by Catherine Johnson, James Dawson, Laura Dockrill, Malorie and myself – are what really make this book feel special, and noteworthy. Books written by authors born or resident in the UK can, ironically, have a hard time finding a place on our shelves or bookshop tables beside the big international hitters – but 2014 saw the UK’s first Young Adult Lit Con; a thriving community of bloggers continue to share that passion; this year will see the inaugural YA Book Prize from the Bookseller, also celebrating Irish authors. And while this is not a UKYA anthology (many US superstars are represented!), I think it kicks arse as a showcase for what UKYA has to offer. Humour, smarts, snark, history, challenge, knee-trembly romance, and above all an absolute commitment to inclusion: knowing and showing that everyone is entitled to smoochie love time.
My story, TUMBLING, is about the first meeting of two fangirls. It’s about the nervy build-up to a first date, and the hopeful hiatus between seasons of your favourite TV show, and how they’re kind of the same thing. It’s about slashfic, and canon; why they matter, and who they matter to. It’s about the power and value of an online identity for people who don’t look or feel or live like the ones on tv. It’s about this gif:
– only not.
Can anyone have a relationship based on six episodes of one TV show?
I’ve written YA about internet identities and fandom before, but when given the ‘against the odds’ brief, this story is what immediately fell out. Apparently I’ve had some Sherlock feels a-brewing. Conclusions: 1) I need to write more fanfic. 2) I need to write more YA. I’d also like to thank the contributors to Diversity in YA, whose words go around in my head every time I begin a new piece of work.
I’m back to writing a book about an 11-year-old next. But in the meantime, you can find me on Tumblr posting more about the story, and getting excited about the Valentine’s events for LOVE HURTS.
Susie Day, James Dawson and Bali Rai at Waterstones Birmingham New St – Friday 13th February 2015
This is a free event but please be sure to reserve a seat through @WstonesNewSt or Birmingham High Street’s dedicated YA twitter @yabirmingham
Malorie Blackman, Catherine Johnson, Patrick Ness at Waterstones Piccadilly – Thursday 12th February 2015 – Tickets £5 – book here
Please come along and say hi!
‘If you’re going to buy this anthology, buy it for Tumbling… Susie Day is an author who just gets what it’s like to be a modern teenager’ – Daisy Chain Books and Beauty
(Does anyone else now urgently want to read an anthology called YOUNG ADULT LAKE? I could write a story about the pale person who does not, in fact, suntan. At all. CALL ME.)