Sunday, 27 May 2012

Sunday Special: Interview with UKYA Bloggers Keris Stainton, Keren David and Susie Day

Fans of UK YA definitely shouldn't miss the wonderful blog over at UKYA Books!   I've been lucky enough to do a joint interview with the three fabulous authors behind it - Keris Stainton, Keren David and Susie Day. Given that I'm a big fan of all three as both authors and bloggers, this was rather a special interview to do!

Check out my reviews of their books over at the Bookbag. Jessie Hearts NYC and Emma Hearts LA by Keris, When I Was Joe and Almost True by Keren, and Pea's Book of Best Friends by Susie.

1. Which one of you had the idea to start up the UKYA blog? Why did you decide to do it?

It came out of a discussion on Twitter about how American teen fiction was more hyped and better known than UKYA. Then Keren David had the idea to start a site, mainly to be a destination for anyone searching online for British teen fiction. It was originally just going to be a sort of index, but Keris Stainton got carried away…

2. Do you think you have different expectations picking up a UK YA book as opposed to one from the US? (Apart from the setting on most occasions, of course!)

There's such a huge range of brilliant YA covering all sorts of areas, written in both the UK and the US that it's hard to pin down expectations. One thing you get from UKYA though can be a feeling of close identification with the characters and the situations they are in - which can make you think about your own life in a different way.

3. Are there any British places you'd love to see feature more often in novels?

Too many places to mention! It would be great to see fiction representing every UK region, including the areas that are possibly considered less 'glamorous'. Every part of the UK has many stories to tell.

4. And, conversely, are there any places in the UK that you think are overused?

Maybe there's a tendency to 'Richard Curtis-ise' the concentrate on the rich areas of London, plus a splash of the Cotswolds.

5. I consider myself to be pretty well-read but there's so much fantastic UK YA coming out at the moment that it can be easy to overlook stuff! Are there any releases over the last couple of years which you don't think have had the success they deserve?

Keren: If there was any justice in the world then Gillian Philip's books would be bestsellers and festooned with awards. I also loved Sheena Wilkinson's books Taking Flight and Grounded, set in Northern Ireland -  a mix-up of gritty crime and pony books, which work brilliantly.

Keris: I love Luisa Plaja's books - funny and romantic and true.

Haven't read anything by Sheena Wilkinson or Luisa Plaja (although I keep meaning to try her because she's fab on Twitter and has commented on here before as well!) but agree that Gillian Philip is great!

6. What's the best thing about being a British YA author?

Great friendships with other British YA authors. And we're lucky in that the UK is relatively small, so it's easy to sit down face to face with editors and agents.

7. If you won a fortune on the lottery and could move anywhere you wanted to, where in Britain would your dream house be?

Keren: North London...just around the corner from where I live now...but I'd also want a fabulous beach house on the south coast somewhere.

Keris: It would be the Lake District for me, I think. Or one of the seafront houses at Lytham St Annes. Somewhere near water, definitely.

Susie: Manorbier Castle, Pembrokeshire. It's a ruin but you can stay in a tiny guesthouse within the walls, so it's not quite as daft as it sounds. 

I'm with Keren here - I love London!

8. When you were a teen yourself, who were your favourite British authors?

Keren: Have to admit to large amount of time reading the Regency romances of Georgette Heyer. I also loved Antonia Forest, Agatha Christie, Emily Bronte.

Keris: I read predominantly American authors - Paul Zindel, Paula Danzinger, the Sweet Dreams series and then Danielle Steel and Jackie Collins. I real a lot of UKYA now though!

Susie: Like Keris, I read a lot of US contemporary teen fiction - but I loved British sci-fi: Nicholas Fisk, John Wyndham. And masses of detective fiction, especially Dorothy L Sayers and Josephine Tey.

9. Which fictional character would you most like to take on a traditional British seaside holiday?

Keren: The ones in the book I'm currently working on -  so I can go on writing about them.

Keris: Mr Darcy. I'd love to see him in a Kiss Me Quick hat.

Susie: Darth Vader. We share a similar approach to sunblock, I imagine.

10. Which British fictional character would you be happy to exile to America or Australia, never to set foot on these shores again?

Has to be Horrid Henry. Little brat. And then send Supernanny round to sort out that entire family dynamic.

11. Finally (to end on a happy note after that last question!) can you tell us a bit about the UKYA books we can expect from the three of you in the near future?

Keren: I'm working on three different projects at the moment - not sure which one will see the light of day first (or at all). Two are contemporary UK-based novels, the other is a historical psychological thriller, with a non-UK setting. Right out of my comfort zone!

Keris: Emma Hearts LA comes out at the beginning of June. Then I hope (fingers crossed) there'll be another book in the 'Hearts' series, but we'll see. I'm also working on something completely different, which I'm excited about, but no on else has read yet.

Susie: The Twice-Lived Summer of Bluebell Jones comes out in August. It's about a girl turning 13 (with the help - or hindrance - of her 14-year-old self), so it's at the younger end of UKYA, but all that 'figuring out who you are' stuff stays pertinent and powerful even when you're older, I think; it's why I love YA fiction.

Some fab stuff to look forward to there! Thanks for such a great interview.


  1. The UKYA site is a wonderful resource. Thanks to the three of you for setting it up. The Twice Lived Summer sounds nice - and I'm all for extending the 'younger' end of YA; going beyond comfort zones - ouch, they could be fantastic.

  2. I adore the UKYA site and love to see it being shouting about all the live long day!

  3. I love this interview, and the UKYA site! Its such a great site to check out!