We started off the celebrations by meeting teen author, Rachel Coker, and now — meet Steph Bowe.
Published at 16 (wow!), Steph debuted with GIRL SAVES BOY, and her second book ALL THIS COULD END, is just out. As Mime mentioned, we are proud owners of a spanking-brand-new-copy!
Enjoy the interview, blogglings!
Was there a book that inspired you start writing?
I was read to a lot when I was little, and as soon as I learnt to write I started writing down stories (and I’m sure I made lots up in my head before then!) so I don’t know if there’s a specific book it all leads back to – rather, lots and lots of stories. If I absolutely had to pick one specific book to trace my love of stories back to, it would likely be The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. I so loved books with pictures of food when I was little. That’s what’s lacking from YA fiction! Pictures of food!
I agree! How could you go wrong with pictures of pie and blueberries? Did you always dream of being published? Or did you start writing as a hobby?
I started writing when I was quite young, and only because I loved reading stories and wanted to make them up myself. As soon as I finished writing (I was typing on a computer even back then – my handwriting has never been great), I would erase the story entirely. Because I liked the writing bit, not having a finished story (luckily I eventually started saving the stuff I wrote!). When I was seven I vowed to become an author, and buy a house! I kind of overestimated how much money a writer earns. The first novel I remember trying to write was called The Merryhem’s First Adventure. It was a Magic Faraway Tree-esque tale about a girl called Rose Merryhem, her brother and sister, and their epic adventure which involved elevators to the sky and magical beaches. I only got to about a thousand words before I ran out of plot. I was six.
Being your second book, was it harder to write ALL THIS COULD END?
Yes, very much so – during the process of writing my first novel, I wasn’t thinking about publication or other people’s opinions, and I was very enthusiastic about writing. Once I had a book published, there were a lot more distractions and opinions that kept crowding my head while I was writing. I had to really focus on enjoying the process of writing and writing the story I wanted to write.
Did you feel a lot of pressure about the release of ALL THIS COULD END? (More so or less then GIRL SAVES BOY?)
I felt a similar amount of pressure, but it was different – I didn’t know what to expect the first time around, and was dealing with being reviewed and doing interviews and going to festivals, which was new and exciting and a bit terrifying, too. With the second book, I was still anxious as to what people would think of it, but not as stressed out over doing author stuff like interviews.
Okay, a (semi) easy one! Who are your top 5 favourite authors?!
How can I name just five! Let’s go with: Melina Marchetta, Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell, Eric Carle and John Green. I could probably give you a hundred more, though.
It really is a tough question that one…But moving on! Do you think teens should be writing and trying to get published? Or should they wait until they have more life experience?
I think that everyone has a unique voice and stories only they can tell, and that ‘life experience’ is something that everyone talks about a lot as if it’s something that occurs when you get to the mythical ‘real world’ of adulthood, but really you’re alive when you’re a teenager, so who’s to say you’re not experiencing life then?
If you’re writing books for teenagers and you are a teenager, I don’t think you’re at a disadvantage. I don’t think young writers should worry too much about publication when they are first starting out – the most important thing is to enjoy writing. But you absolutely should write, if you enjoy it. Don’t let self-doubt or negative grown-ups dissuade you – your stories are worth telling, even if you’re young.
Woot! Love that one. So, do you have any tips about writing query letters or pitches for us?
I’m not sure I’m especially good at query letters or pitches – I haven’t written many. I read lots and lots of blurbs from the backs of novels to figure out how to write my own pitches. Write a query letter that would make you intrigued enough to read the novel! Is that good advice? I also included the first page of my novel at the end of the query letter, which I think is a good idea if you have a strong beginning.
What kind of things should teen writers be doing while they’re working towards publication? (Besides, actually finishing their book, that is.) Blogging? Tweeting? Do you think these hold real weight in today’s publishing world?
I think writing lots and lots is the number one most important thing. It’s only worth blogging and tweeting if you enjoy doing those things – publishers do like authors having a web presence, and readers like it too, but it isn’t half as important as writing a brilliant book, and there are plenty of successful authors who don’t tweet or blog. So blog if it’s fun for you (people will be able to tell if you hate blogging, and it probably won’t be a fun blog to read), but remember that writing is the important bit.
Good point. Which is hardest for you to write – beginnings, middles, or endings?
Beginnings are easiest! I love writing beginnings. Middles are messy, but I think endings are the hardest, if only because there are so many options and no way of knowing which is the right way to end. And everyone remembers the ending, and whether or not it was any good (and no matter what, some people will hate it).
(And lastly) Were any chocolate bars harmed in the writing of your novels?!
Haha, I don’t eat much chocolate! (Apart from at Easter. It is the Tuesday after Easter as I write this and I am still recovering.) I did eat a lot of toast and drink many a cup of tea during the writing of my novels, however.
Steph Bowe is a nineteen-year-old YA author represented by Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown. Her debut novel, GIRL SAVES BOY, was published by Text Publishing in Australia & New Zealand in September 2010. She grew up just outside Melbourne, but now lives in South-East Queensland, Australia, with her family. Her novel has also been translated into Spanish, Dutch and Catalan. Her second novel, ALL THIS COULD END (Text Publishing), will be available February 2013.
Thanks SO much for joining our party, Steph! I love your books. I’m not biased or anything, but, naturally (you being Australian) your books are especially awesome.
Steph also writes a fantastic blog, Hey! Teenager of the Year. You can like her on facebook too!
Check out her new book, ALL THIS COULD END, on Amazon and mark it to-read on Goodreads! And, while you’re at it, go check out GIRL SAVES BOY.
Have you entered our first party game? Entries close on the 14th! It’s not too late to get that camera out. (The prize is brilliant!)
And, just so you know, we’re going to be interviewing Amanda Bradburn and giving away a copy of her book, The Keepers of Elenath, next week!! Too cool, huh? Details are riiiight around the corner.
Not sure what this party thing is? Find out here.