After years teaching English literature with teenagers in London, it’s time to write a YA novel of my own!
Before I had my twins, I had some great conversations with my students that led to the seed of an idea. Many of my girls wanted to see themselves presented in more books as strong, talented, (and yes, flawed) black British teenagers who weren’t simply ‘the best friend’ or a victim of racism because they happened to be black.
I’d been writing for a masters course I was taking in the evenings and a character began to take shape in my mind so clearly.
Ola is a feisty, music-loving girl whose mum makes her leave London for a small seaside town in the West Country. A fish out of water, she has to navigate new friendships, fragile family relationships and potential romance, before a cheesy teenage pop star she can’t stand arrives and shakes things up even more.
I ran some pages past my students. Their feedback fired me up to write it! I read more and more popular Y.A. writers for inspiration… Malorie Blackman, Becky Albertalli and Rainbow Rowell among so many others.
Naively, I thought I’d be able to add chapters when my babies slept – it turns out twins rarely sleep at the same time! Then as they grew older, family life and teaching (both of which I loved) got in the way and the book was on hold.
Now my little family have moved to New York and, thanks to my husband, when the kids and I aren’t playing soccer, doing our chores or exploring, I have the chance to really focus on writing again. It’s a brilliant, liberating feeling!
Thanks for coming on this journey with me as I add short stories/excerpts and ideas about the writing process along the way.