We have Phil Earle, the author of one of my fave 2012 Contemps, Saving Daisy, here today! (You can see my review of Saving Daisy: here!) He has an awesome post lined up for us, one I love! So without further ado, here is his ace post... :D
Kings of Teen
A fanfare is heard each year, for a fantastic book prize called ‘The Queen of Teen’, a chance to celebrate the best writing for teenagers.
It’s an award with great kudos, the ceremony is lavish, and it’s an accolade many authors want to win, yet this year marks a sea change for the award, as for the first time, a man (shock!) has infiltrated the ranks of the brilliant Cathy Cassidy, Cathy Hopkins and Sarah Webb. James Dawson’s inclusion has created a lot of comment, particularly on blogs across the country, and good on him I say.
The whole thing got me thinking though, about how competitive a prize for male YA writers would be, when there are so many inspirational authors out there, many of whom inspired me to open my laptop and get typing.
Here’s what my dream shortlist would look like:
A couple of years ago, “Ostrich Boys’ graced just about every shortlist out there, and little wonder. An incredible road-trip about friendship and loss, it confirmed for me everything that’s great about the author.I fell in love with Keith’s writing when working as a bookseller: ‘Warehouse’ was quite unlike anything else I’d read before, as it was so packed full of truth. ‘Malarkey’ and ‘The Fearful’ merely confirmed what I already knew: that more teens would be reading if they knew about Keith and how bloody good he is.
‘Martyn Pig’ was a game-changer for me. A book that broke all the rules, that took you into the darkest of places and never once flinched.
The books that followed never backed down either, ‘Lucas’, ‘Road of the Dead’, ‘Killing God’, ‘Naked’: all of them uncompromising, but always entertaining.
Kevin can do high concept too. ‘iBoy’ is genius. A kid gets hit in the head with an iphone and absorbs all of its powers. Brilliant. Why didn’t I think of that?
- David Almond
I wish more than anything that I could write like David. His novels are never long, rarely over 250 pages each, yet he says more than I ever could in a dozen books. ‘Skellig’ and ‘The Fire Eaters’ both destroyed me, whilst ‘The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean’ proved that he can enthral adults just as well as teens. If you ever get the chance to hear him speak, drop everything and go. He’s as mesmerising in the flesh as he is on the page.
- Melvin Burgess
‘Junk’, ‘Doing it’, ‘Bloodtide’ and now ‘Kill all Enemies’ – a legacy any writer would be proud of. People often accuse Melvin of being controversial for the sake of it, but to me he means every word he says. There’s real fire and passion in the stories he tells, and that’s why I always return when his new book comes out.
‘Swim the Fly’ and ‘Beat the Band’ are lewd, crude and hilarious, yet there’s more than just a feeling of ‘American Pie’ to Don’s books. What I love about them is that they are HUGE of heart. The biggest compliment I can pay them is that I wish they’d been around when I was a teen. I would have thought they were the business.
Finally, what I love most about YA at the moment, is the sheer number of writers who deliver brilliant debuts, and I couldn’t finish this post without mentioning a couple of them, namely Dave Cousins and John Lucas. With ’15 Days Without a Head’ and ‘Turf’, they have announced themselves as the new generation of YA.
They are not afraid to write from the heart, or talk about subjects others would shy away from.
That’s what makes them special, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next…
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Phil was born in Hull in 1974, and he studied English and Drama at Hull University. He worked for a year as a carer in a children’s home, then after training as a drama therapist, he worked in a therapeutic community in London, which cared for multiply abused adolescents. Then, changing tack completely, he chose a marginally more sedate life as a children’s bookseller. It was here that he developed an obsession for kid’s literature, in particular, young adult fiction.
After three years at Ottakar’s, he became a sales rep, and then a key account manager for Transworld/Random House, and is now sales director at Simon and Schuster Children’s Books.
Phil lives in South East London with his wife and three young children.