- Do you read romance novels? What is your opinion about this genre, both as a writer and as a reader?
I read primarily contemporary young adult novels, of which almost always the main element is a love story. And romantic love is obviously an important part of people’s lives, and a big focus for teenagers, so it makes sense that it does so well as a genre and is present in basically all great books. I think reading a lot of books with this as a focus is reflected in my writing.
- A book does not have to be categorized as “romance” to be “romantic.” Are there any novels that you consider “romantic,” and do you have a favorite love story?
I don’t have a favourite romantic love story—there are so many wonderful ones, I could hardly choose—but my favourite platonic love story is Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee in “Lord of the Rings” … but that’s kind of off-topic. I can never really understand people’s disregard for category romance, Mills & Boon and so on, and the people who write them, because it is such a successful genre. I would say it sells better than anything else. And this is because romance is something almost everyone can relate to and most people want in their own life—being loved is very important to people. The vast majority of contemporary YA I read has romantic elements.
- Your debut novel, Girl Saves Boy, was published in 2010, when you were sixteen. When you began writing the story, did you have any inclination to its success? It has even been translated into three other languages!
When I started writing, I definitely hoped that it would be published—I’ve wanted to be an author since I was seven—but didn’t expect it. The main reason for writing that novel was because I was very inspired, and felt I had to get the story out and onto the page before that feeling passed. I absolutely loved writing it, and hoped that other people would read it and enjoy it, too. Once I had finished the novel, I decided I had nothing to lose by sending it out and trying to get it published; I was absolutely amazed when I received offers from several agents, and my book later went to auction. I’m pretty surprised!
- Please tell us a bit about the chemistry between your two main characters, Sacha Thomas and Jewel Valentine. Has their relationship affected how you approach any future projects?
I think the main thing I set out to write with Sacha and Jewel was a love story that wasn’t unbalanced—I’m not much of a fan of stories where the male love interest is strong and masculine and often kind of terrifying, and the female protagonist is pretty and sweet and weak. I hope that these two characters are individuals rather than stereotypes, and how they feel about each other—rather than being profound and with a deep, never-ending love—is kind of messy and complicated and probably won’t last forever, but is a wonderful thing all the same. A relationship doesn’t have to last forever or be especially profound to have a dramatic impact on a person, especially when it occurs in a formative time of one’s life, like as a teenager. I think I’ll probably aspire to portray different things in future projects.
- How would you describe your writing journey? Was it difficult to secure an agent and become published?
I was very fortunate in that all of my hard work paid off fairly quickly—I got an agent and a book deal within the space of a few months when I was 15. This is not to say there wasn’t rejection and struggle and so forth—“Girl Saves Boy” was the third manuscript I wrote, and I had homeschooled for several years to focus on writing—but it all happened very quickly, and I was very lucky. I’ve found the process since getting an agent and a book deal to be more challenging on book two, the lengthy and challenging rewriting process, criticism, pressure, public speaking and promotion and so forth. I think, for me, there was too much focus on the end goal of “getting a book published”, when in fact, as I’ve since discovered, the writing and publishing journey doesn’t end with transitioning from unpublished to published. It’s an ongoing process, and publication changes the challenges. The main focus, for me, is on enjoying writing and creating the best stories I can in the hopes that other people will enjoy them.
- Do you have an opinion on the e-book revolution?
I love the aesthetic of paper books, and rarely read novels on screens—I don’t have an e-reader, but occasionally read on my laptop or phone. So my personal preference is for the physical novel (signing a Kindle just isn’t the same, and you can’t really lend somebody an e-book in the same way), but I think that stories are wonderful, no matter what the format is. I think, into the future, people will still remain attached to paper books. I don’t think e-books will eliminate them; readers will enjoy both formats. I think e-books and the advent of the Internet offers a lot more opportunities for writers to connect directly with readers—through blogs and self-publishing and so many more things—and that is brilliant.
- Nowadays, many publishers expect their authors to use social media to promote their books. Some authors, on the other hand, would prefer to write only, without being distracted by digital trivialities. As a fellow blogger and user of social media, what are your thoughts?
I think that if a writer sets out to build a platform online with the sole purpose of promoting themselves and making money, and they don’t enjoy it, readers are going to see right through that. I am pretty active online through my blog and Twitter and Facebook and Goodreads, but I started and continued with all of these aspects because I really enjoy blogging and interacting with other readers and writers. A writer is better off focusing most of their energy into their novels and other methods of promotion if blogging and the online world doesn’t interest or excite them. That said, setting up a website is fairly quick and inexpensive, and doesn’t require much upkeep. It’s fair enough for writers to prefer not to spend heaps of time promoting online, but making themselves available for interviews or sending out review copies is worthwhile—book bloggers really want to engage with authors.
Info about the author:
Steph is an 18-year-old YA author represented whose debut novel, Girl Saves Boy, was published by Text Publishing in Australia & New Zealand in September 2010. She blogs at Hey! Teenager of the Year and lives in Queensland, Australia with her family. She has appeared at the Melbourne Writers Festival, the Brisbane Writers Festival, the National Young Writers Festival, the Emerging Writers Festival, the Voices on the Coast festival, the Ballarat Writers Festival and the Somerset Celebration of Literature. She was one of triple j’s inaugural “25 Under 25” and won Express Media’s award for Outstand Achievement by a Writer Under 25 in 2010. She has written for The Age, and has appeared in various other publications. She has appeared on both on radio (triple j’s “Hack” and Radio National’s “Life Matters”) and television (“The Circle” and “Totally Wild”), and is present in a number of places on the Internet.
To buy her latest book, simply click on the cover below: