In this post, you'll be hearing from Keren David, one of the country's greatest YA authors. Enjoy!
Hi Amber! I'm a journalist and a mum, I live in north London, but I grew up in a small town and have lived in Amsterdam and Glasgow. I think the most important thing about me is that I love people and I love writing about them. My books are mostly about ordinary teenagers to whom interesting things happen, whether that's going into witness protection, winning the lottery, going to live abroad, or being reunited with your long lost sibling. I never want my books to feel heavy or dull, and I hope they never do, but I want them to explore themes in depth, things like justice and truth, identity and values, family, culture and society. My books reflect our multi-cultural world. They are never ever 'issue books', they are about life.
There's a lot more hard work to be done after getting published than there was in getting published. May not be true for everyone, but it was for me.
Libraries are the front line in the battle against inequality. Within a library you can educate yourself and you can study, you can turn your life around. My husband was a working class boy who failed his 11plus, he studied for his O and A levels at Manchester Central Library and got into Oxford. The writer Alex Wheatle, grew up in care, was sent to prison, educated himself at Brixton library and is now a playwright and author. My own kids had bedrooms too small for desks, and scoured London to find the best libraries to revise for exams. I work in libraries and so do many authors. When I was a child my dad took us to the library every week, and there I found the books that I loved. There was no bookshop in my town. Libraries made me who I am.
Oh so many to choose from! The one that springs to mind is the time I was speaking in a town far from my home, got up at 5am, got dressed in the dark. Got to the first school and realised that I'd put on the wrong trousers... ones with a hole in the crotch, due to a trailing thread that was still unravelling. By the second school, the trousers were basically falling apart. I did the whole talk with my legs firmly clamped together. I didn't have time to buy a spare pair before getting the train home, so then had to cross London with a pair of severely inadequate trousers.
The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler. Not one word wasted. Brilliant characterisation. And for YA, Helen Grant's Silent Saturday and C.J. Skuse's Dead Romantic. Helen is the mistress of twisty thrillers, with characters you care about and C.J. writes lines so funny that they make me cry, and that I want to rip out of her book and implant into mine.
So nice of you! Cuckoo is about a boy called Jake, who is 16. He's been an actor almost all his life and for three years he played Riley Elliott in a popular soap, Market Square. But then things go horribly wrong for Jake. When the book opens, Jake's making a YouTube video apologising for his part in getting Market Square cancelled. His video turns into a web-series, and the whole book is told as either episodes from the series, or comments from viewers.
I've been working on a musical version of my book Lia's Guide to Winning the Lottery, with composer Paul Herbert and lyricist Lesley Ross, and we're hoping to have a performance with musical theatre students in 2017. I'm also working on another two books, which haven't been announced yet. And I've just started as Features Editor of the Jewish Chronicle, which was the newspaper where I started my career as a messenger girl, quite a few years ago. So I'm pretty busy!