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Writing for the young adult – Where do I begin??

Hoping to be a budding novelist, I know that writing, of any kind, isn’t the easiest thing in the world. Characters, plot, setting, it all seems too much sometimes. But then selecting the target audience for your upcoming work is the hardest of all.

Meeting the people that have achieved this, those have climbed the mountain of ideas and got over the other side with their pack of ideas still intact, gives us, as young writers, hope. This was certainly an outcome of the Writers’ Festival.

In one of the final sessions on Saturday, I was lucky to catch up with Martine Murray, James Roy and M V Snyder, who write fiction for young adults, and they shared their tales of woe and achievement with the small crowd. But young adult fiction wasn’t the first choice for James.

“No,” he said when chairman Tegan Bennett-Daylight asked if he had set out to write YA. “I wanted to write a real book.”

Thankfully, he changed his opinion and realised that YA can be a real book too. Having published twenty books in this genre, he seems to have the know on the correct technique. His latest release, Town, was released in 2007 and was awarded the NSW Premier’s Ethel Turner Prize for Young Adult fiction.

Martine Murray has written a wide range of children’s and young adult books, and has written three novels that have been published internationally. Her first novel, A Dog Called Bear, revolves around the companionship of her own dog Bear, and since it was first published, all her stories have some touch of doggie comfort to them.

M V Snyder, or Maria, was previously a meteorologist (don’t ask me to say what kind) before changing to writing YA fiction. She is now a New York Times best-seller with her Study Series, but she likes to play that down.

“Once you become a [New York Times] best-seller, that’s all you’re associated with,” she joked.

Well, I’m sure if she would like to swap, I could take her place…

As writing YA is such a wide topic to cover, our panellists touched on many different ideas and topics, from whether Pride and Prejudice should be published as a YA novel, to what they were reading when they were that age (Martine still reads Dr Seuss), and what could be considered relevant in a YA novel. It was a rewarding session, with ideas and helpful hints supplied in excess.

Amelia Turner is a Southern Cross University media student


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