Jessica Shirvington lives in Sydney with her husband, former Olympic sprinter Matt Shirvington, and their two daughters. A successful businesswoman, she has previously founded and run a coffee distribution company, Stella Imports, in London, and been involved in managing the restaurants Fuel Bistro, Tow Bar and MG Garage in Sydney. Her debut novel Embrace, the first book in the Violet Eden Chapters series, was published in 2010, followed in 2011 by Enticed and in 2012 by Emblaze. Jessica's latest book, Between the Lives, has just been released.
Jessica combines her writing career with juggling the demands of motherhood and her responsibilities as a co-director in the company MPS Investments Pty Ltd. She joins us today to discuss Writing YA Fiction.
Did you read much YA fiction before penning your first novel?
Yes. Heaps! I love YA and more often than not it is the genre I choose to read so when it came to writing I didn’t even stop to ponder what genre I would be writing, I just knew.
What was it that drew you to the YA genre?
I love that it is focused on coming of age plots and moments – that it often deals with first loves and all the drama that goes with big emotions. For me, YA has it all without the burdens of having to give characters sensible careers and mortgages to pay.
When writing for your YA audience do you also consider the gatekeepers – the librarians and parents who often purchase the books?
Yes and no. I see myself as a storyteller – that is my job and I do not stray from that. I don’t so much stop to consider librarians and parents but I do stop to consider the responsibility I have to the reader to give them a fulfilling story full of imagination and escapism and also, to be sensitive to some of the darker and more confronting issues. As a writer I believe we all have a responsibility to write with a certain duty of care.
Is it challenging to create ‘teen dialogue’ in your novels?
Nah. I don’t think I ever particularly grew up so it just tends to flow! ;-)
What are three essential components of your YA fiction?
A strong voice.Heavy and heartfelt emotion.And a solid action-driven plot.
What is next for you?
The final book in my series, Empower, is coming out later this year. Following that I have the first of a two book series due out early 2014 and the sequel later the same year. Plus, I also have my first children’s picture book coming out in 2014, which is very exciting.
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