Features Skin Deep Cover

Wrexham Library’s September Author of the Month is the wonderful Laura Jarratt, who wrote one of my favourite books of the year so far, teen contemporary romance Skin Deep. I caught up with her to talk to her about being chosen, and get some writing advice.

1. How did you feel when you found out you’d been named Wrexham Library’s author of the month for September?

I was really surprised because I had no idea until I saw it on Twitter, but delighted too obviously. I was particularly pleased that it was Wrexham Library because I work in rural Wrexham. The students I work with have been mega supportive and given me great feedback. So yes, especially happy for local support! Many thanks to Wrexham Library!

2. Wrexham Library are just about to start creative writing classes – do you have any hints for anyone thinking of trying their hand at writing a book?

Firstly, I think it’s a great idea that Wrexham Library are starting classes. When I looked around for something like that a few years ago, I couldn’t find anything at all so well done to them.
But some tips, of course:

  • Some of us plot the whole book before we start writing and some, like me, just start writing and wing it – neither way is more correct. Try both and see which works best for you.
  • Don’t try too hard at the writing part – concentrate on letting the story out instead. Most beginners try too hard to make their writing sound ‘literary’ and end up with purple prose. Resist! You can always pretty up a plain first draft later if necessary; we tend to be less good at killing our darlings than adding extra flavouring later.
  • Beware those who tell you that you can’t do something within a book because agents/editors don’t like it. You can do most things people will say you can’t as long as you do them well. That’s the crucial part.
  • Finish the book, even if you think it’s utter rubbish. And console yourself – lots of published writers think their stuff is rubbish until it’s been through several drafts with an editor.
  • And an editing tip. Remember – RUE. Resist the Urge to Explain. Don’t tell your reader what they can work out from the text. If it’s obvious your character is angry, don’t bludgeon the reader over the head by stating it. It sounds obvious but it’s a very common mistake.
  • But most of all have fun writing and don’t get too hung up on rules etc. If you can make people feel with your writing then the rest will come with practice.

3. Which book would you recommend to people who enjoyed Skin Deep?

I’ve just been really impressed with James Dawson’s Hollow Pike. Superficially it might seem an odd recommendation for readers who liked Skin Deep as it’s ostensibly about witchcraft but the other themes, about bullying and being different and learning to celebrate difference, I think are very well done and will appeal to Skin Deep readers. It’s also got plenty of sly humour and a peppering of romance and a hefty chunk of mystery and suspense.

4. What have you got lined up for the future – can we expect a new book in 2013?

Yes – By Any Other Name is out in April 2013. It’s about a girl whose life is turned upside down when she and her family have to go into witness protection. It’s paced more as a thriller than Skin Deep was but it’s got its own important themes too so I think readers who enjoyed Skin Deep will find By Any Other Name interesting.

Thanks for talking to us Laura, and would agree that Hollow Pike is a great recommendation – another brilliant teen book. I’m definitely looking forward to By Any Other Name!