After writing five novels for adults, I had an idea for a story which seemed more suited to a teenage readership. The prospect of trying my hand at a new kind of book for a different audience was very appealing – a change of tone, a fresh approach and so on – but it was the ideas behind the story and the main character’s situation that really drove me forward, more than a desire to switch markets.
2) Is there an author, living or dead, who inspired you particularly?
When I first started out as a writer in my early 20s, my main inspiration and influence was the Beat Generation novelist, Jack Kerouac – particularly his classic book, On the Road, which I read while I was backpacking around America. Most of my early fiction was a (pale) imitation of his style.
3) Please, tell us about your last book and, if you can, about your future
My most recent novel, Flip, is my first for teenagers and young adults. It tells the story of Alex, aged 14, who wakes up one morning to find that his soul (spirit, psyche, unconscious, or whatever you care to call it) has switched to the body of another boy, called Philip (or ‘Flip’, to his mates). Alex faces a life-and-death quest to find out what has happened and how, if at all, he can switch back . . . or be trapped forever in the wrong existence.
Currently, I’m working on the final revisions to another teen/YA novel about a 15-year-old girl, called Shiv, who goes off the rails after causing the death of her brother on holiday. It’s a cheery tale about loss, grief and guilt! I have to come up with a new title as my initial title, The Fallen One, is too close to The Fallen: 1, the first book in The Fallen series, published by my U.S. publisher.
4) How was your writing journey? Was it difficult to find an agent and get
I wrote two unpublished novels (for adults) which, between them, received around 40 rejections from literary agents over a seven-year period. Then, after completing an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, I sent the manuscript of my next novel, Acts of Revision, to an agent who had asked to see more after reading a synopsis and sample chapters. He then left that agency and never got back to me. I only discovered this when I phoned to ask what was happening and got put through to a colleague, who offered to rescue my manuscript from the pile the departed agent had left behind. He found the novel, read it and offered to represent me. Within ten days he’d got me a publishing deal.
Getting Flip published was a little more straightforward, as I already had a track record as a published author by then – and an agent. Although the agent for my adult novels doesn’t handle teen/YA fiction, he agreed to pass my manuscript to a colleague at the same agency who specialised in that market. She liked the novel, took it on, and found me a publisher.
5) What’s your opinion about this E-book revolution? Would you consider
the indie route?
To be honest, my eyes glaze over at the mention of eBooks. I don’t read them, I don’t own a Kindle or any kind of eReader, and I don’t really understand the complexities of the whole issue around electronic versus traditional publishing. I know I should be interested but I’m not!
As for going down the indie route, it’s not something I’ve given any thought to.
I’ve buried my head in the sand on all this, I suppose, but I’m hoping that my agents and/or editors will pull my head back out again at some point and make me stare the future in the face. (Or leave me buried and forget about me.)
6) Nowadays many publishers expect their authors to use social media a lot
to promote their books. Many authors, on the other hand, would prefer to
write only, without being distracted by digital trivialities: what are
My writing time is squeezed enough already because of my family commitments and my part-time job as a creative-writing tutor, so I really try to ration the time I spend online.
My publishers strongly advised me to create my own website (with a blog) and sign up to Facebook ahead of the publication of Flip. It was essential, they said, for a teen/YA author to have an online and social network “presence”. So, I suppressed my Luddite instincts and did as I was told. In fact, most of my friends on FB aren’t teenage readers but fellow writers or men and women of my age – we all take turns to grumble about stuff. I do very little online promotion, really.
And I don’t tweet. If I ever tweet, please shoot me.
Info about the author:
Martyn Bedford’s first novel for teenagers and young adults, Flip, was published to critical acclaim in March 2011 by Walker Books in the UK and Random House in the U.S. and Canada. It was shortlisted for the Costa Book Award, longlisted for the Carnegie Medal and was a Red House Children’s Book Awards “Pick of the Year”. Martyn is also the author of five novels for adults which, between them, have been translated into 13 languages. He lives in West Yorkshire with his wife and two daughters and teaches creative writing at Leeds Trinity University College.
To know more, simply visit Martyn’s website: www.martynbedford.com
You can also find Martyn on Facebook at Martyn Bedford-Writer.
To buy his latest book, simply click on the cover below: