Getting to Know You: What is your writing kryptonite?

I’d say my writing kryptonite is my own self-confidence, or rather, lack-thereof. I have difficulty with believing in myself for a number of reasons, none of which are pleasant.

When I start doubting myself, I stop writing. I suppose it’s because writing is such a lonely thing. When even you start doubting yourself, it’s like your last cheerleader has upped and left. And it feels awful.

Kryptonite saps Superman’s powers. Self-doubt saps mine, because it feeds into my self-esteem problems and causes a chain reaction of mental health issues. It becomes an easy way to criticise yourself for every little thing – and you end up doing nothing.
I’m trying to learn how not to succumb to my kryptonite, but it’s a long process…

Review: Release by Patrick Ness

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A startling and tender novel about how to let yourself love and set yourself free by Patrick Ness, the twice Carnegie Medal-winning author of A Monster Calls. Today will change Adam Thorn’s life. Between his religious family, unpleasant boss and his ex-boyfriend, the bindings of his world are coming undone. And way across town, a ghost has risen from the lake. Is there time for Adam to find his release?”

Overall Rating: 4 stars

Recommended for: 14+

Themes: LGBTQIA+ identity and acceptance, family relationships, sex and consent, religion, drugs

A dual narrative, one strand of this novel follows a day in the life of Adam Thorn- and a pretty bad day it is. The other narrative is an intriguing ghost story about a dead girl named Katie. Both deal with issues of relationships and family, the former also with the difficulty of being gay in a small town – especially when your dad is an Evangelical Christian preacher.

Ness, in his usual style, deals head-on with the YA themes of acceptance and identity. Adam’s storyline follows his day as things go from one bad event to another, starting with having to buy flowers for his mother and ending with something life-changing. Katie’s story is a reverse-telling of just how she ended up in a lake with bricks in her pockets.

At times poignant, at times bordering on explicit, Ness manages to deal with difficult issues without being twee or laboured. He doesn’t shy away from the realities of teenage life, including teenage sex life. I found myself empathising more and more with Adam as the story and his day went on, and the two narratives are cleverly woven together throughout.

A read I would definitely recommend to young LGBTQIA+ readers, as long as you’re ready to read about sexual relationships.

Getting to Know You: What would you give up if it would make you a better writer?

Wow. What a question… Well, if it was a done deal, a guarantee that if I did this, I’d become a better writer…I would give up coffee.

Yes, coffee. And for those who know me, you know this is a big sacrifice.
I love my coffee. I drink it every day (fair-trade, of course). I love it in all its varieties, from the strongest of espressos to the mellowest of lattes. To give it up would be a big sacrifice for me, as shallow as that sounds. But if it made me a better writer? I’d do it in an instant.

There are always alternatives. I do love Earl Grey tea. Although the less said about my brief foray with dandelion coffee, the better…

Book Review: Jinx by Meg Cabot

It wasn’t just the power failure the night Jean Honeychurch was born that earned her the nickname Jinx: misfortune seems to follow her wherever she goes. Which is why she’s been shipped off to New York to stay with relatives – including her sophisticated cousin Tory – until the trouble she’s caused back in her small hometown dies down.

Tory couldn’t care less about Jinx – until Jinx’s chronic bad luck starts wreaking havoc in Tory’s perfect world. Only then does Jinx learn that beneath Tory’s big-city glamour lies a world of hatred and revenge. And now Jean’s jinx could be the only thing that can save her life…

Rating: 3*

Recommended For: 11+

Themes: Identity and acceptance, friendship, family, coming of age

LGBTQIA+ Content: None.

This was a decent read. There were no wow moments and it was a bit too teen romance for my liking, but it wasn’t the worst.

Jean “Jinx” Honeychurch, preacher’s daughter from Iowa, finds herself in New York with her well-to-do aunt and uncle and their children. Jinx settles into her new private school and her new home, but her cousin Tori (now demanding to be called Torrence) makes her life difficult. And Torrence’s torture gets worse and worse.

For me, the balance between romance and witchcraft was off. I bought the book for the fantasy element but what I got was a teen romance in which I continually wanted to smash Jinx’s head off a wall because she was so clueless.

Canon’s characterisation of Jinx makes her seem two dimensional and there was nothing I really liked about her – simply because there was little info given to like. The plot was also highly predictable and yet not developed enough. Some of the characters’ emotional responses were totally lacking and that really put me off.

I’d recommend this to younger readers, probably more likely girls than boys – but of course, that’s a generalisation.

No LGBTQIA+ content to be found, sold you’re looking for it, this isn’t the place for you.

Getting to Know You: What do you do when inspiration runs dry?

I guess it depends on why inspiration has run dry. If it’s inspiration on one project, I might move on to something else instead. If it’s inspiration for writing in general, that’s a different story.

A friend of mine once told me that she goes on “creativity dates” to places like museums, or to concerts. Her reasoning? We use so much creativity as writers that it’s absolutely necessary to restore the creative reserves. I think there’s a lot of wisdom in that.

Sometimes, we push ourselves too hard for too long. It’s important to remember that while creativity is infinite, it’s not always on tap. Sometimes, you have to let yourself recharge.
I find that in times where I lack inspiration for any project, I’m running at a creativity deficit. At those times, it’s important to read, watch, consume others’ creativity. All of these thing help to bring my spark back.

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