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Wild About YA: Really Useful Links by Ellen Brickley

Article by Ellen Brickley ©.
Posted in Resources (, ).

I’m delighted to be stepping into Paul Anthony Shortt’s shoes for a few weeks – it’s been a while since this job was undertaken by someone who wasn’t named Paul! Alongside not being named Paul, I’m also an essayist, Nanowrimo volunteer and lover of all things bookish, especially YA novels.

YA is an exciting category right now. Francis Hardinge, Sarah Crossan, Brian Conaghan and Louise O’Neill are racking up awards for their great fiction. Angie Thomas’s debut, The Hate U Give, has topped the New York Times bestseller list for six weeks. If you’re interested in writing YA, the classic, time-honoured advice to read widely in your chosen genre should be a fun task.

But with such great material out there, how can you make your work as good as it can be – and then get it into the right hands?

1. This article by Nora Raleigh Baskin covers the essentials really well. What’s the relationship between the age of your characters and the age of your likely audience? Should you use your novel to teach your young readers a lesson? (Spoiler alert: no). This is a solid primer when starting out.

2. To be sure of avoiding cliches, and for the laugh, you should definitely check out Brooding YA Hero on Twitter for an affectionate parody. But be careful – if you look into his eyes, there may be no going back.

3. Writing course providers are just as fond of YA as the rest of us – keep an eye on Big Smoke, the Irish Writers’ Centre or your local course provider. Festivals like Mountains to Sea, the International Literature Festival, the West Cork Literary Festival or the Dromineer Festival often host YA-themed events aimed at writers as well as readers.
4. Talking of which – as part of the Mountains to Sea book festival in Dun Laoghaire, author Sarah Webb ran an excellent event on writing for the children’s fiction market called ‘When Are You Going To Write A Proper Book?’ (I’m told that you’ll need to get used to this question) in February 2017. I’m not telling you about it just to gloat, though – all of that great info is available in a podcast. If you want a summary, Sarah’s got that covered too.

5. When you’re ready to think about editing, polishing, perfecting and maybe even publishing, remember that children’s writers get their very own, dedicated Writers and Artists’ Yearbook, full of advice on writing, as well as listings for agents and publishers with an interest in children’s fiction. Look for lime-green in the bookshop instead of the trademark W&A red!

Wherever your YA adventures take you, enjoy the journey.
(c) Ellen Brickley

Ellen Brickley is a Dublin-based, chai-latte-powered novelist, essayist, and civil servant who can't believe she gets paid to write sometimes. She holds an MA in American Literature from UCD, and has provided content for Explorer Publishing and Lionbridge Technologies. Her essays have appeared in Banshee literary magazine. She is currently hard at work on revisions for a YA novel.