Q/A with YA author Jill Turner

What’s the hardest part about writing YA lit?:

The two books I have out at present (The Seelie Princess and Rise of the Dragons) are for older children rather than for young adults/teenagers but I know that a lot of teens have actually read and enjoyed them.

I’m writing a book at present that is for young adults/teenagers and it’s about a 14 year old girl whose life changes when her Nan joins social media and makes a post that instantly goes viral. It’s funny but actually covers a couple of serious points about growing up and things that can affect teenagers.

Writing for YA can be tricky because the words teenagers use change on an almost daily basis! I live in Essex, UK and, if any of you have ever seen TOWIE, you will know that some of the language that has been used on there sometimes bears no resemblance to English as most people know it! (I love watching TOWIE, but no, I don’t write using any TOWIE language!)

I’m lucky in that I work with young adult students so I get to hear about the things that interest them on a daily basis. I’ve noticed, over the years, that some teenagers keep things hidden deep inside them (and worry inwardly, react by pushing others away from them, or they try and cover it up by dressing differently and giving off an air of indifference), or they simply can’t hide what they are feeling and flare-up on what seems to be a daily (if not hourly!) basis. This age, for boys as well as girls, is hormone hell! They have all these emotions running rampant throughout their bodies and don’t yet know how to deal with them. My job as an author (as well as in life) is to try to help them understand that they all pretty much feel the same way, no matter how they interpret things or let them out, and also that it is good to be able to ask for help when it is needed.

Personally, I think adults expect far too much from younger people. Just because they are fully grown size-wise doesn’t mean that emotionally they are in the same place as an older person, and older people have a duty of care to at least try to understand this. When news broadcasts highlight all the bad things youngsters do and ignore the good, (and there are a LOT of good things that youngsters do, unseen, unheard and uncommented upon,) the rest of the population grows to expect younger people to behave badly – without remembering what they were like at the same age – a mass of contradictory emotions and no real idea of how to handle them.

Some teenagers/young adults have to go through things that no older person would wish upon their worst enemy; so as I am writing this particular book I am trying to be very aware of this and to deal with the matter as carefully as possible.

I think it is vitally important that any youngster knows that it is okay to laugh during rough times, sometimes at the same time as they want to cry, and that it is not wrong to feel like this – it’s completely and utterly healthy and normal. Teenagers feel incredible guilt and carry a whole lot of weight on their shoulders that they shouldn’t have to. If this particular book can encourage even one young adult to ask for help, or if any older person reading it realises that they know someone who is at risk and it encourages them to reach out to that young person, I will be extremely happy. I hope and pray that I am covering it in a way that young adults can relate to.

Oh, and it’s titled: Jade Greene – Nan’s Gone Viral – I’ll let you know via Facebook and Twitter when it will be released. (See link below.)

When exactly did you know you wanted to be a writer?:

I’ve always known it. I have told stories all my life, first by reading to my younger sister when we were growing up, then making up my own stories for my own children. Writing them down has been an extension of this and it’s taken me far too long to have the courage to do it.
Have you found any clever ways to market your books to YA readers?: I wish I had! I’m still comparatively new to publishing so am following the usual routes – Amazon, Createspace, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads. It’s a costly business and I am learning all the time. If I come across anything that works well I’ll let you know! (And if anyone else has any tips, they will be gratefully received!)

What YA books have had the biggest influence on your writing?:

I read a lot of YA books – I have a 14 year old daughter who is an avid reader and I tend to read a lot that she brings home from the library. John Green is a favourite of hers at the moment(and I very much admire the issues he tackles and the manner in which he does it), and I also admire the way that Suzanne Collins wrote The Hunger Games which exploded onto the scene. CS Lewis, Rick Riordan, Roald Dahl and Cassandra Clare are all authors I have read and enjoyed, and they have all probably had some influence over my own writing in various ways.

Short author bio: I live in Essex, UK with my youngest daughter (who is my inspiration and who regularly tells me to keep writing as she wants to read what happens to my characters – thank you sweetheart!) a loopy cat and an ancient, arthritic hamster that only has one eye and is now almost five years old. He sits on my hand happily to be fed and tries to escape on a nightly basis! I do the same through my writing!

Website: https://authorjmturner.wordpress.com/http://jillturner.net/

Twitter: @JillMTurner

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