Writing isn’t easy. Our creative skills need to be nurtured so they can evolve. Reading ‘how to’ books on various writing formats/genres has been an enormous help to me over the years, and in particular, with my YA novels. I am, therefore, delighted to have a master of writing for children and young adults on my blog today.
It is my pleasure to introduce author, Marion Crook, as she releases the third edition of her fabulous book, Writing for Children and Young Adults. Over to Marion…
The Fun Stuff:
What part of the world do you come from?
Gibsons, British Columbia, Canada. I live in a small town on the ocean, a 40 minute ferry ride from Vancouver.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a veterinarian and when I couldn’t (women weren’t allowed way back then) I wanted to graduate from university and just keep learning. I didn’t tell my daughter my early ambition, but she is a veterinarian. Perhaps that’s why I have animals, particularly dogs, in every book.
List three words to describe yourself.
Curious, inquisitive and nosy. I really do want to know why people do what they do and how things work.
Who would play you in a film about your life?
Judi Dench because she is intelligent, feisty and funny. I know she’s older but she seems indomitable.
What’s your favourite snack food when writing?
If you had a super power, what would it be?
I would have a magnet that attracted kindness. Imagine walking through a world where everyone was kind to you. Of course, I might collapse from lack of stress to keep me alert. Perhaps no one power would be healthy.
The Sensible Side:
Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you’re not writing?)
I started writing when my children were young and I was off work from my job as a public health nurse. While I lived on a ranch and there was lots to do I missed the stimulation of people, so I created them. I sold stories to the Canadian Broadcasting Company which were read on the radio. I wrote and published in the young adult market, and then the middle grade market. I responded to a publisher’s request to write a non-fiction book on adoption and chose to write about how teen’s felt about adoption. I went on to write about teen’s concerns about suicide and eating disorders and then went back to fiction. There’s always something to explore and write about.
When I am not writing I like to outrigger canoe paddle with my regular crew; play Celtic fiddle with a group; garden and read.
You are launching the third edition of Writing for Children and Young Adults. In this edition you have included a section on writing for the New Adult genre (18-25 year olds). How important is it for a writer to stay well-informed on changes in the industry?
Aside from an insatiable desire to know everything about the field we write in, trends in writing can inspire us to develop our own style or even our genre. I sat at a table at the Surrey International Writers Conference a few years ago and discussed writing with two authors who wrote teen paranormal novels and who seemed to have a private language. I was impressed with their dedication to their field; one I was didn’t read in and didn’t know well. They were willing to introduce me to it and it was fascinating. The writers of stories around games predisposes a fine knowledge of computer technology. Those writers also at this conference were creating stories that appealed to the geeks of the world, those highly intelligent acquisitive minds that read them. It’s exciting to find there are genres that make room for creative minds in many different areas.
Do you have a set research process for your books? If so what is it?
I’m studious, so research, as Patricia Moyes says, is “endlessly beguiling; it’s the writing that’s work.” I find quite early on what I don’t know and research to find out. When I wrote Fire on the River the setting was a tug boat. I knew very little about tugs so persuaded the local tug boat company to allow me to accompany crews out on the river while they worked. What could be better than chugging along the river on a beautiful summer day with my only responsibility paying attention to the traffic on the water? When I finished the manuscript the manager of the tug boat company read it and then took me onto a tug, down in to the engine room, and pointed out where I had gone wrong in the manuscript and how I could fix that part. Really, sometimes research is the most rewarding part of writing.
Can you give us a top tip from your new section on the New Adult genre from Writing for Children and Young Adults?
This genre is having some trouble getting hold of the market. While publishers and certainly online publishing authors have driven the acceptance of this genre, retailers are more reluctant. There seem to be two attitudes towards New Adult books: one is that people between 18 and 25 need their own literature that deals with their particular concerns of establishing their lives, finding someone to love, enjoying sexual experience and establishing an identity, Authors who deal with these themes can write for this separate category. The other notion is that creating a new adult genre is condescending, limited and derisive, that 18-25 year-olds are not New Adults, they are Adults and should be treated as if they had diverse interests and concerns the way all adults do. There is a market for New Adult manuscripts; publishers are buying them. At the moment, it seems as though the emphasis is on romance in this genre and the market skewed toward women (the BISG Code is Fiction/Romance/ New Adult).
In this new edition you cover the importance of an online presence for new authors. What is your favourite piece of advice for a new writer who may be overwhelmed with the online writing world?
Online activity is both connecting for your own social satisfaction and marketing. I should take my own advice here, but set aside a few minutes a day–it doesn’t have to be hours–to review three online sites: perhaps your website, your twitter account and your Facebook page. Don’t try to do everything. After a few months decide which site is getting the most attention and adjust, perhaps substituting the Goodreads site for the Facebook page. There are programs that calculate how much traffic you get at which sites but you may not want to spend time checking through yet another program. It may be that a particular blog site is the one that is most interested in you. Put your time where you get the response and the most sales.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I am working on an adult mystery series (in fact I have three mystery series on the go) and a young adult novel. My hard-working agent is trying to sort it all out. Whatever happens with the sales, I’m still writing.
How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
Thank you so much for joining me today, Marion. 🙂