I am writing.

A book? Maybe.

A dissertation? Definitely.

I'm lucky enough to be finishing off my English degree with a creative writing dissertation that allows me to write anything I want. So of course I've opted to explore the niche subgenre that is young adult crime. 

It's not all that common but one of my favourite authors of all time (if not my absolute favourite) is Megan Abbott, whose novels explore teenage girls and crime noir. I'm going to be referencing her a lot and probably discussing one of her novels in detail - I haven't decided which yet - for my critical commentary. It's about how the conventions of typical (adult) crime writing change when the audience is those aged 16 - 25. So I've also reserved Donna Tartt's The Secret History from the local library (at the whopping charge of 75p!) on the recommendation that I could discuss it in the essay. I'm still looking for a third text and am frantically reading Ruth Ware's In A Dark, Dark Wood and Cathi Unsworth's Weirdo in the hopes of finding just what I'm looking for.

In my research so far - three whole days of it - I've discovered just how ambiguous the term 'young adult' really is. In fact, Michael Cart said defining YA literature is, “about as easy as nailing Jello-O to a wall. Why? Because the term, like gelatin, is inherently slippery and amorphous." For some, young adult means 12-18, for others younger and for me older. The interesting thing is young adult - a category, not a genre - appeals to statistically more adults than 'young adults'. 

Balancing the essay with my creative piece, I'm 2,000 words in and getting to grips with my main character. The full submission needs to be 6,000 words and I want it to be the extract of a full length novel (so I can write that full length novel) but at the moment I'm having a hard time telling myself it will be a novel. Many writers know how sometimes you can get completely immersed in the project you're writing only to fall out of love with it. I'm scared of having my heart broken by this story.

When writing a subgenre it's easy to sway too much to one side. For instance, right now the YA side of my story is shining, but the creepy, crime side is yet to fully emerge. It's something that I'll have to work out through writing, writing, redrafting, and writing some more. 

I just know I am the start of a humongous task. Send biscuits.

Love, Jess

P.S. I just received an email that The Secret History is ready to collect (yay!)

Chat to me about all things writing and books on twitter: @JessikahHope

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