And Then We Ran, Writing Posts

YA Stripes! A YA Showcase

c48y_aewmaa_9vxLast Saturday, I had the pleasure of spending the day with a collection of YA book bloggers, Stripes staff and other YA authors at the Stripes YA showcase. Events like this are one of the funnest parts of my job – a whole day to just talk about books? Bliss.

Meeting authors Sharon Gosling, Patrice Lawrence and Sophia Bennett was a real treat. (Sharon’s YA horror, Fir, was devoured by my husband the minute I brought it home, and both Orangeboy and Finding Ophelia have snuck onto the top of my TBR pile since Saturday…). It’s always fascinating to hear other authors talk about their upcoming books, and it always makes me think ‘Wow! Why can’t I have ideas as great as that?’

c49heyxwqaaespOne of the highlights of the day for me was hearing my editor, Ruth Bennett, and Patrice talking about the upcoming BAME anthology, A Change Is Gonna Come. Celebrating diverse voices and cultural identities, the anthology features some of the most exciting authors writing today. (And if you’re a BAME writer yourself, you’ve got about another 5 days to submit your own story to be considered for inclusion! Check out all the details on the Stripes website.) I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy when it’s released in August.

c488fjuwyaacwiI also loved hearing Sophie and Paul from Stripes (who took my lovely new author photos on our seaside road trip) talking about pre-Raphaelite art and how it influenced the cover (and story!) for Finding Ophelia.

Roadtripping A YA Novel

My own contribution to the day was a bit of a challenge! When the programme came through, I initially thought it might be a typo – surely no-one was actually expecting me to create a YA novel in front of a crowd in just ten minutes?!

c49dnxlxaamjjczTurns out they were. So I enlisted help.

I handed out worksheets to every member of the audience and got them all to pitch in. First, I asked them all to think of a story like a road trip – everything’s a journey these days, right? – and talked them through the components in terms of my new book. We had:

A driver – the main character (Also, optional extra: a passenger, or supporting character/s)

A destination – our main character’s goal

Transportation – the plot that leads them towards (or away from!) their goal

A map – the setting, or the landscape our characters are travelling through.

c49b6wnw8aaap8pI gave everyone two minutes to come up with ideas, then got them all to shout out their best ones and we decided as a group on which ones to use.

So here, in it’s world debut, is the stunning YA novel concept we came up with (in ten minutes):

The Circus of the Heart

Bruce Springsteen’s secret twin brother and an alien called Bob run away to the circus to become lion tamers. As they chase the circus across Europe, always just missing it, they stop at a charity shop to buy their lion tamer costumes, and at a zoo to steal a lion to tame. Along the way, they also collect some other circus wannabes and, together with the lion, they all travel across the continent in their little clown car. But after they cross the border into Russia and miss the circus one last time – and with it, their last chance of joining them – they all realise the most important truth of all: that the circus was inside them all, all along.

Now, tell me you don’t want to read that book. I wonder if Ruth will let me write it…


Thank you to @StripesBooks for letting me use their photos! And to everyone who attended the showcase for letting me steal their ideas. 

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