A couple of weeks ago, Sally-Ann Partridge (who I know as @sapartridge, on Twitter) suggested I try reading one of her books – seeing as I was already a fan of what I naively referred to as “kids books” but, for tweens, teens and beyond, are more appropriately referred to as YA (young adult) reads. (I am learning about this publishing thing as I go, bear with me).
So yesterday I went into my local Exclusive Books, and found a copy of Fuse – Partridge’s new book, about a boy (Kendall) who is bullied at school, makes friends with the wrong sort of new boy, and winds up going on the run with his older brother (Justin).
Now most of my non-grown-up reads (little kids, young adults, whatever) tend to be science fiction and fantasy – I have spent a lot of time completing my collections of Susan Cooper’s superb “Dark is Rising” series, Anne McCaffrey’s dragon books, Asimov’s stories for kids, and so on – and I generally don’t read junior literature outside this genre. Well, except for Alfred Hitchcock’s Three Investigators. And possibly Mallory Towers (is that a YA read?). In another universe, I wouldn’t have given Fuse a second glance; it would have been on the wrong shelf. But I am terribly glad that I did [pick it up], because it is an excellent little book. When I say “little”, I don’t mean to imply it’s a small project or anything – I mean it is neat, well-formed, perfect: a short novel, just the right size for a younger reader, with its story brilliantly (and concisely) told. It moves at a good, fast pace; it’s not self-indulgent (you know the sort, overwrought with descriptors); it’s believable (I think – my kids are too small, and I am too old to really know what teens are like today). It’s also cleverly structured – great themes – and produces some lovely surprises (I was not expecting *that* to happen when the gun went off – fabulous resolution!). And at the end of the exercise, I felt happy and proud. Because there really are some incredibly talented young authors emerging from South Africa. This is important for another reason: What I am finding about Twitter is that, if it’s used in a certain way, it is a tremendous little creative huddle of writers – published writers, not just people who think that writing sounds like a glamorous job (because we know that it’s not, and the pay sucks) – very inspiring in its own way, like a virtual writers’ retreat. The more we “hang out” with other good writers, the more this enables our own creativity. It sparks the right synapses.
Journalism is not always the same, perhaps because as a breed we are rather more mercurial and cynical than “writers of books”.