Today, fantasy YA writer Clare Campbell is here to talk about her experience writing YA fiction. Welcome, Clare!
One of the great things about YA fiction is that you can write in any genre as along as your main character is a teen. What genre do you write? Why?
Fantasy. I blame Disney for whisking me off to Serengeti sunrises, Arabian nights, and bewitched castles.
What’s great about YA fantasy is that it seems to be rooted in these early fairytales. Some of the best YA hits have all been wonderful re-twists on fairytale folklore. It’s fodder for imagination, and I believe that’s important to preserve. Young lives are so ‘plugged-in’ to social media, it’s essential that a good story transports them to other worlds, landscapes, and exciting concepts.
What I love most about YA fiction is that it explores issues important to young people. It’s their voice in the humdrum of society. If you want to know what’s bothering the youth of today, walk into a bookstore and take a gander at the YA titles. They’ll scream off the shelf in bold color. They’ll dazzle with fierce voices that dismantle worn-out kingdoms. They’ll bleed a rainbow of love. They’ll sing of acceptance and true beauty. Words for everyone regardless of age.
Which comes first when starting a story – character, plot, or setting?
For me, it’s a strong sense of character. If you know who the character is then their attitude will inform the plot, and the setting will veil around them like an outward projection of themselves.
Ever notice how a serious character creates a moodier atmosphere in a story? Or, how a kid with attitude lives in this bold, ‘in-yo-face’ world?
If I’ve a strong attachment to the nature and purpose of the main character, the setting and plot seem to flow with ease. Everything I write tends to fall into the magical or mythic, so I recommend having a constant nose for good folklore. Every chance I get I’m travelling, or reading about various cultures, mythologies, or religions. It gives me a diverse well of information to draw upon.
I love reading myths and folklore, looking for inspiration.
Most YA writers aren’t YA. How do you write authentically about characters younger than you are?
Young people are awesome! I’ve worked with all kinds of teenagers. From the homeless, to the disabled, to the exceptional, and each of them has a magnetic spark. A spark, I believe, we never lose no matter how old we get. Some of us might forget about it, or deem it too immature, or naïve. But, some of us retain that spark and hold it up as the thing that makes us see the world through a lens of hope. Or, the youthful energy that makes us believe we can achieve the impossible even against the odds. That’s all you need to connect with YA audiences.
What are some other unique challenges about writing YA?
The market! It can sound like doomsday to authors. At times I felt like there was a sign on the gate, ‘don’t bother, we’re full.’
And then I remembered something important.
If you treat something like an impossible mountain, you’ll never climb it. I started off not knowing a darn thing about writing, and made two million readers fall in love with my online, fanfiction—an oversaturated market. I made that mountain move. I think I’ve enough brazen impudence, and youthful spark in me to kick the gate down too.
Success is in the mind. May the odds be ever in your favor. Live long and prosper my fellow YA authors.
What’s been your most unusual source of inspiration for a story or character?
Dame Judi Dench did this amazing documentary on trees. Trees play a significant role in Irish mythology, and a significant role to the world. Dame Judi and I appear to share this quirky interest. At one part in the documentary she was able to prove that trees communicate. At another she held a stethoscope up to the trunk and listened to it “breathe.” This ‘consciousness of trees’ really shaped how I tackled world building. I was able to give life to those silent giants, almost making them characters in their own right.
Thanks so much for stopping by!
Clare is a successful and highly popular author of award winning Fanfiction, with thousands of online fans and over 2 million reads on her Lord of the Rings Fanfic epic. Clare has also won several writing awards. Her YA fantasy Tempest, was awarded runner-up for Serious Writer, ‘Writer of the Year’ 2019.
As well as writing, Clare is an experienced Occupational Therapist, with a passion for enabling people. Her love of storytelling, merged with her positive messages, inspires her to create meaningful narratives that represent diversity and promote unity.
As a native Irish woman, she can usually be found searching for the fair folk, exploring ancient Viking harbors, and defending the odd castle. To learn more about Clare, discover her fanfiction, and join her on her publication journey, visit; www.CJCampbellOfficial.com.
Join Clare’s mailing list and receive platform building hints and access to exclusive online content: http://cjcampbellofficial.com/contact-us/.
Platform often scares so many authors, especially in YA, but do you know a lot of young people read and write fanfiction?
I began my career writing fanfiction, and to date have thousands of committed fans, and 2 million readers. How? Well, I learned how to identify and write fanfiction to create MAJOR platform.
I’ve put together this geeky, fandom-filled class for Serious Writer Academy to teach other authors how to build platform, engage with readers, and have a ton of fun doing it. Find out more info here: https://www.seriouswriteracademy.com/clare-campbell/