Saturday, 8 February 2014

Guest Post With Paige Toon: From Chick-lit to YA

Today we have the lovely Paige Toon on the blog talking about her new book (and first venture into YA!) The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson. Paige is a bestselling author of Women’s Fiction whose books include The Longest Holiday, Johnny Be Good and Pictures of Lily to name a few. The Jessie Jefferson series is a YA spin off from Johnny Be Good and Baby Be Mine featuring rock star Johnny’s estranged daughter Jessie. I recently read and really enjoyed The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson (check out my review here) so I’m excited to have Paige on the blog today discussing her journey from Chick-lit to YA. Without further ado please give a warm welcome to the brilliant Paige Toon!

From Chick-lit to YA by Paige Toon

A lot of people have asked me how hard I found it trying to get into the head of a teenage character. The truth is, it was easy. I have to get into the heads of all of my characters – how old they are isn’t usually a factor. Jessie was like my naughty, younger alter ego – I’m quite fond of her and I can’t wait to write part two of her story. This is the first time I’ve started writing a book which I know there will be a sequel to. Baby Be Mine is the sequel to Johnny Be Good, but it wasn’t until I was writing the final page, and an idea jumped out at me, that I thought, there could be more to this story. My fans demanded a sequel in the end – so many of them were cross at me for leaving it on that cliff-hanger. I do try not to do that with my books these days, so it was a bit of a challenge making the ending of The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson feel satisfactory for the reader while still leaving a lot of scope for the next book.

I decided to write young adult books after a friend and fellow author, Ali Harris, suggested it. I’ve dedicated Jessie to her. Ever since writing my debut novel Lucy in the Sky, I’ve written my books quickly. I wrote Lucy in two and a half months with a full-time job at heat magazine and I enjoyed every single minute. When I found myself with a whole year to write Johnny Be Good, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I ended up writing most of it in the last three months – with a newborn baby to boot. I just write better under pressure – and shorter deadlines help. Now my son is in school and my daughter is in nursery, I have so much more time on my hands. Why not fill it by doing something I love? I thought about releasing two adult books a year, but wasn’t sure if you guys would get bored of me. I love reading YA myself – especially sci-fi series, it has to be said (but isn’t Twilight effectively chick lit with vampires and werewolves?), and the idea for Jessie seemed to work even better as a YA series. I first had the idea to write about Johnny’s secret daughter when I was writing Baby Be Mine, and the idea came back to me when I was toying with YA.

At the time of writing this blog, The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson has already hit the shelves and lots of my amazingly lovely, loyal readers have been telling me how much they enjoyed it. After writing Lucy in the Sky, I was absolutely terrified about everyone I know reading it and passing judgement, but then I relaxed slightly and told myself that if anyone else feels the way I felt while writing it, then they’re going to love it. I can’t tell you how happy I was to get those first Amazon reviews from brand new readers. I still count it as one of the high points of my life. It’s been the same with every book since, so I felt quite chilled about Jessie because I was pretty certain my regular readers would enjoy it if how much I loved writing it was anything to go by. Now I’m dying to hear from some new teenage readers, so please let me know what you thought of the book on Twitter @PaigeToonAuthor and I’ll be waiting with baited breath!

Thanks for stopping by the blog today Paige! I'm looking forward to seeing where Johnny and Meg's story all began and picking up Johnny Be Good soon! The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson is available in all good bookshops now.

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