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Sometimes I read YA books, and I cringe, thinking I would never say that and I can’t imagine ever hearing someone under eighteen saying that. So where does someone learn an authentic YA voice? You know the things that people say in just the right way, so even if you never really heard their actual voice you could roughly guess how old they are.
My all time favourite? The airport. The international terminal is best I reckon. So many different people from hugely different places all in one little room. It’s kind of like a tin of sardines, only with lots of different kinds of fish instead.
It’s more than just the different people, it’s the atmosphere. The immense rush that you get from all those people who are excited beyond description, and each one for a personal reason. If you sit at the arrivals gate of an airport terminal, you’ll see husband’s and wives, girlfriends and boyfriends running to meet each other. Totally oblivious to a thousand strangers watching them.
You’ll have the groups of people going away with their schools or sports groups, people just finished school and heading off for the first time in their lives to see the world for themselves.
Probably the only thing an airport doesn’t have is a glass fronted room so I can watch people without them noticing and feeling like that lady with a notebook is following me around!
When I first started writing a couple of years ago, there was one thing I was scared of most. It wasn’t not being able to finish the story, I talk enough to know that I knew enough words to fill a manuscript, and probably still have some left over. It was, what if that’s it, my one and only idea is now in book form and what if I never have another.
The fact that I even had an idea for a book at all seemed like a fluke. It jumped out at me while I was sitting on the couch one night, the next one came while walking in behind someone at the supermarket! How could I re-create the right conditions, was I going to have to hunt down the exact lady I had walked into Woolworths behind?
Then some smart cookie told me I should write all my ideas down in a notebook. What a great idea, and embarrassingly simple. And for a while it did work, until I kept forgetting to write things down, or it was the middle of the night and I forgot to leave a pen with the notebook. Then it happened. It’s a bit like everything else with writing, you’ve got to find what works for you.
I found that my best ideas stuck like chewed gum to the inside of my eyelids. I started being able to see my characters in new situations, I found myself thinking about them all the time. So I tossed the notebook, realising that for me, the best ideas were the ones the held enough interest for me to think about without prompting.