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Why I Chose to Write YA! by by Paige Toon
2015/07/30  |  By:   |  Features  |  

iknewyouwere_paperback_1471118800_300When people ask me why I decided to write YA (books for young adults), this is the answer that I used to give: I was thinking about penning two books a year, and my friend and fellow author Ali Harris suggested YA as a change from my yearly chick-lit. I already had a story idea for a future book – about the twenty-something daughter rock star Johnny Jefferson (from Johnny Be Good and Baby Be Mine) never knew he had, and then it occurred to me that I could write a series about Johnny’s teenage daughter. As I generally try to write in real-time and Johnny is only in his mid thirties, that would mean I could pen the books now… Proudly presenting: The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson!

This answer is still true, but there’s so much more to it than that. In the last few years, I have absolutely devoured series written for young adults: The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices, Twilight, Divergent, The Hunger Games… I absolutely love YA fantasy, but the thing that all of these books have in common is a cracking good love story. No one knows more than my readers how much I love writing about unrequited love, but there’s so much more scope for being able to keep two lovers apart when you’re not restricted to real life issues.

It’s not just fantasy that I love when it comes to YA. There’s something so fresh and inventive about the genre as a whole. In the last year or so I’ve read and loved The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, Wonder by RJ Palacio and The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer. Recently my YA editor sent me a stack of books to get stuck into this summer. So far I’ve read – and absolutely lovedEleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (now one of my favourite books of all time), Girl Online by Zoe Suggs (hot guitarist Noah is right up my street), The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward (okay, this is fantasy again, but damn it was enjoyable), and I’m about to get stuck into Paper Towns by John Green, which I know I’m going to absolutely adore.

So the next time someone asks me why I chose to write YA, maybe I’ll give them the simple answer: because I love reading it.

A lot of my readers were reluctant to try The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson. I know because they told me. I totally get it, because I also know what I like and what I want from my favourite authors, and I’d rather they didn’t change it up, thank you very much.

What has really warmed my heart is the number of readers who did try it – often reluctantly – and loved it. At the end of the day, I believe a good love story should transcend age and gender and sometimes time, space, different dimensions and even beings.

There’s no fantasy involved in I Knew You Were Trouble, but there is hopefully a cracking good love story, and one hell of a journey for an ordinary girl to go on. I hope you enjoy it. Please let me know if you do… @PaigeToonAuthor

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