I have never taken part in YA Shot but I have seen the hashtag on twitter so many times so I thought this year I would bite the bullet and apply to take part.
If you're unsure about what YA Shot is about, read the below information taken from the YA Shot website :)
YA Shot is an author-run, author-led Young Adult and Middle Grade festival that raises the money and resources to run a year-long programme pairing libraries and schools for free author events to foster a love of reading, inspire a passion for writing, and encourage aspirations to careers in the Arts. We believe in equal access to books and opportunities for all – YA Shot brings UKYA and UKMG authors together to pursue that goal, supporting libraries and young people across the country. At present, we’re a not-for-profit organisation but we’re seeking to become a charity.
YA Shot is a one-day annual festival based in the centre of Uxbridge (London). The 2016 festival will take place on Saturday 22nd October 2016. Around 70 authors are involved in a programme of workshop, panel and ‘in conversation’ events (plus book-signing sessions) in the Uxbridge Civic Centre, Waterstone’s Uxbridge and Uxbridge Library. There is also a programme of fantastic blogging and vlogging workshops. YA Shot is run in partnership with Hillingdon Borough Libraries and Waterstone’s Uxbridge.
I am so excited this year to be hosting two YA Shot posts - today's Q&A with author Rosie Rowell and coming up in September another Q&A with authors Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison!
But today I am ecstatic to have Rosie Rowell on my blog to talk all things South Africa, her writing process and the wonder of YA!
Hi Rosie, and thanks for being on my blog! Could you tell us a bit more about Leopold Blue and Almost Grace?
Both Leopold Blue and Almost Grace are set in South Africa and both are essentially coming of age stories, but other than that they are very different. Leopold Blue is set in 1993, against the backdrop of the political tensions in the country leading up to South Africa’s first democratic elections. It tells the story of Meg, who lives in a tiny village and feels that she is never going to escape her boring life. It is a book about friendship and first love and looking at yourself and those you love with different eyes.
Almost Grace is the story about a group of friends who have just finished school and are on their first ‘parent-free’ holiday. The main character Grace meets a mysterious drifter-surfer character. Their friendship has dramatic consequences for everyone. It’s also about being on the threshold of a new phase of life and how this can sometimes be as scary as it is exciting.
Both your books are set in South Africa. Do you take inspiration from places you knew as a child or do you travel for research?
I am South African and therefore it felt natural to set both books there. Leopold Blue grew out of being a bit homesick and I wrote it with a fair bit of nostalgia, which I think comes through in the book. Almost Grace is more autobiographical. In both cases I very much wanted to capture the places as well as the characters.
Having said that, the book I’m writing at the moment is set in London and I’m loving the change of location and the different energy that produces.
Tell us a bit more about your writing process. Where do you get your ideas from?
My writing process is very much character-led and as a result I’m quite a slow writer to begin with. Generally a couple of characters will take up residence in my head and begin talking to each other. Most of my ideas begin with snatches of dialogue, which I expand and build around. I know my writing is going well when my characters start refusing to do things I want them to because it’s a sign they are well formed and complex - even if it makes my life more difficult!
I love that YA literature is so inclusive – there are no rules, no expectations – other than a cracking story! I find that very liberating. I also love the honesty that you find in YA writing. Young adults are refreshingly intolerant of phoniness and it makes for wonderfully complex, true-to-life characters.
Read as much as you can, and read across genres. You learn a lot by reading books that you wouldn’t naturally pick up, because when you’re not zipping along with the story, you notice so much more about how the writer has chosen construct the book. Also, analyse why you think something is good or not – that kind of mindful reading teaches you a great deal about technique. And of course write! Write for yourself, write because it makes you happy. A piece of advice I found helpful was to write the book that you’d like to pick up and read. Don’t judge your work as good or bad because that’s the quickest route to killing your creativity. The only way to improve your writing is to write; unfortunately there are no short cuts!
Thank you so much Rosie for a fantastic Q&A! Make sure you check out Rosie's books, and the rest of the YA Shot posts.
Also, over on my twitter there is a GIVEAWAY for three winners to win a copy of both Leopold Blue and Almost Grace! Head on over to my account and look at the pinned tweet at the top of the page, and all you have to do is simply follow and retweet :) Good luck!
Until next time :)