Starting today, Puku will feature a weekly interview with of one of Southern Africa's very talented children's book authors, illustrators or storytellers in our new 'Puku Presents' series. We're kicking it off with all-round nice person and multi-award winning young adult author, SA Partridge!
Why did you start writing?
I've always wanted to be a writer. I was a very imaginative child and used to make up stories to entertain my parents and grandmother. At school I used to write stories at the back of notebooks and on exam papers. I don't think there was ever any doubt that I would grow up to be a writer. It’s a dream come true.
What is the most difficult part of being a writer for young adults?
I think writing for young adults is the most difficult form of writing. Number one you have to get the tone right without being patronizing, and you have to tune into their wavelength so the dialogue has to be just right as well. It has to be entertaining and thrilling enough to sustain their attention, and as a local writer I'm competing with hugely popular international titles like Twilight and the Hunger Games. It's tough, but I enjoy the challenge. I love young adult fiction. As soon as I finish one I get started right away on the next one.
You've probably been asked about what advice you would give to aspiring writers. What advice would you not give to an aspiring author?
I suppose I wouldn't tell them that the journey to becoming a writer is a long and tough road and that they'll have to steel themselves for rejection after rejection, even though there's no guarantee that they will be make it. No one wants to hear that. Instead, I would tell them to write and write and write and keep writing. Write because you want to, and to tell the story you're meant to tell, and not for any other reason.
Tell us a bit about your next book. What inspired the story?
Sharp Edges is my fourth book for teenagers. It's about six friends that attend a music festival in the Cedarberg, but only five come back. It's a story about friendship, and being young and in love. It's also about death, and how quickly things can go wrong. It also has a little bit of a murder mystery element to it.
I guess you could say the story was born when I went to a music festival and saw just how fearless young people are, and how hard they can party without any thought for the consequences. It's a great moment in time that I was really interested in capturing, but just like any of my stories, a little bit of darkness managed to creep in.
What are you working on at the moment?
I just finished two more stand-alone novels and am currently working on a third. I start to go a little crazy if I'm not writing as the stories start piling up in my head. I'm only happy when I write.
You're a well-known Harry Potter fanatic (I am too) but if you had to pick one other popular YA title to gift a younger version of yourself, what would be it? Divergent? Twilight? What would you have liked to read?
I recently read a wonderful young adult book called Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, which is truly excellent. It's a serious adventure story about friendship and the role young women played in World War Two. It sucked me right in and kept me hooked until the final page. I think a younger me would have been totally delighted by it, but then again, I might have grown up wanting to be a fighter pilot instead of a writer. As I kid I mostly read Stephen King novels and the occasional Agatha Christie. I say mostly, because I had a tendency to read anything that was put in front of me, but I went through all the titles written by those authors.
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