Why I write YA
Guest post by Clare C. Marshall
There’s a lot of excitement and “firsts” in your teenage years: first kiss, first car, graduation from high school, first love. Your hormones are raging so all of this is doubly exciting. Undoubtedly this is all great fodder for novels. And it’s exciting to write (and read) because it’s like you’re reliving those anxious, exciting times like they’re new, without the drama of having to go through it yourself and having it impact your life--again.
I’ve been writing ever since I can remember. Because I’ve always been a writer, many of the ideas in my idea folder involve young protagonists, anywhere from 12 to 18. Now that I’m older, some of my newer ideas involve more adult protagonists, but my strongest ideas--the ones I’m really passionate about--are for a young adult audience.
Dreams In Her Head, my newest book, teeters on the edge of young adult fiction. The protagonists range from age 17 to age 19, and it spans their first year of the unusual exclusive Sparkstone University. The first year of university, in many respects, is like the first day of high school. You’re in a totally new environment, and you’re expected to behave a lot differently than you did in your previous school. More grown-up.
My high school was from grades 7 to 12 so I had a very different experience of moving to the “big school” from the “little school” (grades primary to 6) just down the hill. When I was in grade 6, we actually had an entire day “experiencing” grade 7 by attending a day’s worth of grade 7 classes. We didn’t just sit in on their classes: our grade 6 class BECAME grade 7 for a day! (and the real grade 7s got a day off, lucky!). I remember grade 7 math being so terrifying, the seats being so much larger, and moving from classroom to classroom every hour or so made me feel very grown-up.
My first day of university was much more positive and interactive. Fourth-year students rallied by the entrance to the university, so when we drove in, they asked for my name, and a whole group of students CHEERED it as you drove into the parking lot. Very exciting!
With the first year of university, we can explore even more themes than we did with high school: being away from home for a long period of time. That’s a major theme in the Sparkstone Saga, probably because that was my experience going to university. Going to the big city to live permanently while you attend university, that was a reality for me. There was no way I could live at home and attend school, as we are 1.5 hours from the big urban areas.
I’m not sure I’d go as far to say that the reason I write YA is because I am trying to recreate my youth through fiction. I’m still young--mid-twenties--and I’ve done a lot of things in my life so far: book publishing, making a living from my freelance projects, performing music for thousands of people, and I’ve lived in various cities across Canada. I can’t imagine ever feeling old, no matter how old I actually am. That doesn’t mean I act irresponsibly. I just bring heaps of energy to everything I do.
Perhaps that’s the real reason I’m a YA writer: I just don’t feel like an adult yet. Youth is a state of mind, and there are still lots of firsts to discover in life.
Dreams In Her Head Links:
About the Author:
Clare Marshall grew up in rural Nova Scotia with very little television and dial up internet, and yet, she turned out okay. She has a combined honours degree in journalism and psychology from the University of King’s College, and is a graduate from Humber College’s Creative Book Publishing Program. She founded Woulds & Shoulds Editing and Design in 2010 for self-published authors and businesses looking for quality editing and design services. She enjoys publishing books through her publishing imprint, Faery Ink Press, and released her first novella, Within in 2011. When she’s not writing, she enjoys playing the fiddle and making silly noises at cats.
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