My amazing publisher, Curiosity Quills, recently arranged for me to write a letter for Dear Teen Me, a brilliant website which posts advice from authors to their younger selves. I was warned that many of these letters are quite personal in nature, and while no subject is off limits, writers often find writing them quite an emotional experience.
I like to think I had a pretty fortunate and happy upbringing. I didn’t imagine writing about it would be a big deal. The letter itself took me a really long time to write, mainly because I wasn’t sure I had anything particularly worthy to tell my teenage self, but also because I wanted to get the tone right. Looking back on your past, thinking about what you’ve done, the people you’ve known, how you’ve changed over the years (or not), is an exercise in introspection and bound to throw up some big questions. I wanted to be honest but also to celebrate how vivid and tumultuous and awesome being a young adult is. I don’t think you ever feel as deeply as you do when you’re a teenager.
One thing I hadn’t considered was the reaction I’d get from family and friends. Their feedback and comments moved me to tears and underlined why I love writing. It’s now less than a week until the publication of my first novel, and it’s been a long and winding road. I’ve been so focused on getting the book itself ready to be released into the wild, that I’d slightly lost sight of the fact that people – many of them teenagers – will read that story and they will have opinions about it. Good or bad. And how exciting is that? If just one person stays all up night to finish reading it, sheds a tear, laughs out loud, throws it across the room in disgust, or starts writing a story of their own, I will be a very happy bunny.