YOUNG adult fiction is the fastest growing and most exciting genre in the world at the moment. When I was a teenager, there were very few purpose-written books for people of my age. We went straight from children’s books to adult fiction, with nothing in between. Now the young adult genre has moved firmly into the mainstream, spawning several blockbuster movies and TV series. It’s exciting for me to be part of such an explosion of teen literature.
How much of Trinity’s experience is based on your own in Team Trinity? Were you at boarding school?
Boarding school stories were always my favourites as a child. The character of Trinity Luhabe is the fun-loving extroverted girl I wish I could have been when I was growing up, rather than the somewhat serious and angst-ridden teenager I was in real life. She is my wishful alter ego!
I wasn’t at boarding school, although I often fantasised that I was.
A common fantasy in youth fiction is a world without adults, and that’s what a boarding school setting achieves. It isolates kids in a place of their own, away from the pesky interference of parents. Adults are there to be avoided or outwitted. The most successful boarding school stories of all time are the Harry Potter series. Everyone who reads them wishes they could go to school at Hogwarts.
Enid Blyton kept me reading happily for several years. Bless her for being such a prolific writer! I then had a brief but violent love affair with comic books and graphic novels. It’s a disappointment to me that none of my own children seem to have been bitten by the comic book bug. At the age of 12 I moved swiftly on to historical romances like Gone With the Wind or those by Barbara Cartland and Georgette Heyer. To this day I have never outgrown my affection for a good love story. I enjoy reading them and writing them.
As soon as I was old enough to pick up a pen and form letters, I started writing my own stories. It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do.
It lets me live in my own head, which has always been my happy place. I like to reorganise the world to my own liking and populate it with characters that I create. Every author has a slight power complex, I suspect!
A kid who is a reluctant reader just hasn’t found the right book yet. The problem in South Africa has been a shortage of stories that local kids can relate to. Luckily this is being corrected. There has been an explosion of local authors who are creating superbly readable stories for SA teens. I’m thinking of SA Partridge, Cat Hellisen, Adeline Radloff, Sinovuyo Nkonki, Edyth Bulbring, Joanne Macgregor and Motswana author Lauri Kubuitsile.
Reading means the whole world to me. It can be escape, travel, education, fantasy, inspiration, wish-fulfilment and above all, entertainment. It can be your way out of a bad situation.