With NaNoWrimo ploughing on, I thought many of you might be flagging right now, so I’m upping the ante with MORE great posts on novel writing from some brilliant guests and Bang2writers. Today we have Applecore Books with us, telling us why they write YA fiction. This served as a powerful reminder for me too for my Decision Books, but even if realistic YA is not *your* niche, Kate and Wendy offer some GREAT insights in this post – I love the idea of becoming a micropublisher, strength in numbers! Enjoy and check out the links in the post, too. Over to you, ladies …
1) Real life is what we know
We are both teachers and have both specialised in working with young people whose lives are fraught with real life problems; the lonely and isolated, the economically disadvantaged, the emotionally unsupported, the kids whose families are falling apart through a myriad of reasons and it’s affecting their schoolwork because they can’t concentrate, can’t think, and feel powerless to act. MORE: 5 (more) Reasons to write novels by best selling author Stevie Turner
2) To give young people a voice
We want to give those young people – and especially the ones who can’t express themselves (for whatever reason) – an honest voice; otherwise they might never be heard. When a young person says, “I can relate to that,” we know we are getting somewhere. When a young person says, “your book helped me,” we feel that we have done a good job.
Beyond this, giving them a voice will also help to boost their self-esteem. Just because they have to experience crap in their lives, doesn’t mean they have to feel bad or hopeless or unworthy. Our name is a metaphor; it’s the bit of the apple most people don’t want, and yet it’s the bit with all the seeds for new growth. As with apple cores, every single child has the seeds within them to grow into the person they would really love to be. MORE: Authors & Book Rights: 5 Key Truths by Tom Chalmers
Our books are all set in the here and now which makes the content both relevant and easily accessible to those who don’t have the time, energy, mental or emotional capacity to make the leap into history, fantasy or paranormal fiction for their reading fix. The issues faced by our characters – abuse, crime, ill-health, addiction etc – are very close to us whether we like it or not, and many young people suffer either because they are victim to others caught up in these things, or because they themselves are caught up in these things.
Our books have been studied internationally in schools and are always well received by students. We offer free resources to schools, generous discounts on books and are always happy to do school visits. Reading about other people in difficult situations helps people understand their own problems better, and most of our books are actually available on prescription!
4) To promote empathy and understanding
Nobody is born bad, troubled or difficult; it’s our experiences and the support we get in life which determine our early behaviour as much as anything else. But we live in a blame culture and there are plenty of people who see troublemakers first, kids second. In other words, they blame kids for messing up. We would like a little more understanding please! We hope our stories promote empathy and maybe a little compassion too. We want readers to understand why people mess up, and we want to make it harder for them to judge others negatively. It’s all very well reading about middle-class girls with ponies, about youngsters who go off on adventures to exotic places, and about kids who live in warm, safe homes with caring parents, a Labrador and a magical hedgehog at the bottom of the garden … but what about the kids who grow up in abusive households, the kids who beg on the streets, the kids who have no-one to hug them at night? It’s important that we read about and understand them too. For teenagers who don’t go through these experiences, we believe they need to know it happens. For teenagers who do, they need to know it’s not just them. They need to know not everyone has the hugs or the Labrador or the ponies, and that not every child is loved, and fed and kept safe at night; they aren’t on their own. Read Kate’s post about this – Walking a Fine Line.
5) We love real life!
Real life is exciting, dramatic, sad, happy, funny, scary, wonderful, awful, important … real life is everything we experience. For centuries people have been telling and listening to stories based on real life. It may have gone out of vogue for a while, offering people escapism and alternatives to reality, but stories are about being human and the way we make sense of the world. There is very little that can’t be tackled in fiction for young adults, as long as it’s presented in an honest, sensitive and responsible way.
And when we’ve put our characters through the mill, thrown everything we can at them and their chances of happiness look slim, if we can show them a way out and offer hope for a better life, then what better gift can we give to our readers? MORE: 3 Ways To Transform From “Self Publisher” To Indie Author by Mary Evans
BIO: Applecore Books is a micropublisher created by authors Kate Hanney and Wendy Storer. They met across a crowded waiting room when represented by the same agent, and realised that their writing and their lives had many things in common. Disenchanted by the wait, they decided to join forces and now both write and publish contemporary young adult fiction based on real life under the banner of Applecore Books. Check out Kate’s books HERE and Wendy’s books, HERE.
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