Your local Business & lifestyle magazine
We love a bit of teen fiction at Inspired (guess who read all the Twilight books when she was 37?) and one of the rising stars of the genre is the wonderful Keris Stainton. We caught up with Keris as she prepared for the launch of her latest boo on June 7.
Keris spends almost all of her time tweeting, snacking, and drinking tea, but every now and then she knuckles down and writes a book for young adults. Della Says: OMG! and Jessie Hearts NYC are out now with Emma Hearts LA coming 7 June.
1. Keris, what was it that attracted you to writing young adult fiction?
“I had an idea, completely out of the blue, about a teenager. I loved writing that book so much that I’ve never really looked back.”
2. What books or authors inspired you when you were growing up?
“I loved Enid Blyton. The Mallory Towers series in particular. Then, as a teen, I became obsessed with these American books called Sweet Dreams. There are hundreds of them and I could not stop reading them. They had hilarious covers and brilliant titles like ‘PS I Love You’ and ‘Three Cheers for Love’. “
Teen fiction is often seen as a bit ‘fluffy’ – how do you deal with issues that affect teenage girls in a way that they can relate to?
“Ugh. Hate the word fluffy. It’s only teen fiction predominantly read by girls that’s seen as fluffy, in the same way that women’s fiction is ‘chick lit’ and men’s fiction is… fiction. As for dealing with issues, different authors do it in different ways. I baulk at the idea of writing an ‘issue’ book, but it was important for me that in, for example, Della Says: OMG! I wrote positively (and responsibly) about sex.
“I’ve read so many books that deal with so many different issues important to teens – from family to disability to sexuality – but my favourites do it with humour and a lightness of touch, which unfortunately means they’re often dismissed as “fluffy”.”
4. Did you pour your heart out in your teenage diary like Della in ‘Della says OMG?’
“Only in a really pathetic, moany, way. I really didn’t have much of a life – I spent all my time in my room, reading and having fantasy relationships with pop stars, so my diary was completely embarrassing. Which is why, when I left home, I glued, sellotaped and stapled the pages together, before burying it deep in the outdoor bin. “
5. What was the most embarrassing thing that happened to you as a teenage girl?
“I used to wet myself when I laughed. I know now that it’s a really common problem, but at the time, it was just totally humiliating. We used to climb trees a lot in our local park and one summer I was wearing shorts, climbing a tree. Behind me was the boy I liked, who was really funny (which is why I liked him). He made me laugh, I started to wee and did that frantic leg crossing thing to try to hide it, which is particularly hard when a) you’re wearing shorts and b) you’re climbing a tree. And then one of my so-called friends, Louise, said “What’s that running down your legs, Keris?” Teenage girls are HORRIBLE.”
6. You travelled to LA to research for ‘Emma Hearts LA’ – how does teen culture differ in the US to the UK?
“Ooh, that’s a good question. My friend Keren David pinpointed the biggest difference, I think – American teens can drive. So they have a certain amount of freedom British teens don’t. I hadn’t even thought about that until I started writing Della Says and at one point stopped and thought, “Wait. How does anyone go anywhere?!” I think Americans would say the biggest difference is that British teens get drunk a lot more – I’ve had a few comments along those lines from shocked American reviewers!”
7. What do you love most about writing for this age group?
“I love that it’s such a time of flux – that you’re working out who you are and dealing with other people’s expectations. That was the very first idea I had for a YA novel, which was a teen with amnesia. I loved the idea of having – as a teen – the chance to start your personality again from scratch.”
8. Which other YA authors do you admire and why?
“So many. One of the best things for me since I started writing YA is how enthusiastic and supportive the YA community is – I feel like I’ve really found my “tribe”. I’ve just finished reading Adorkable by Sarra Manning and it totally blew me away. It’s so funny and charming and totally up to date plus she deals with serious issues with ease and humour. I love Meg Cabot because she’s an ideas machine, plus she’s really supportive of other writers. Keren David writes the most fabulous books and is apparently also unafraid of controversy, so writes brilliant blog posts too, whereas I generally stick to passive aggressive tweets (most of the time!). “
9. Do you have any plans for writing adult fiction in the future?
“I’m not ruling it out, but I’ve got lots of YA ideas and no adult ideas at all, so if it does happen, it won’t be any time soon! “
10. When is Emma Hearts LA due for publication?
“7 June! I can’t wait.”
Emma Hearts LA is available from all good bookshops, and online from Amazon.