Why I Write For Young Adults by Jack Croxall

publication date: Jun 26, 2017
author/source: Jack Croxall

Anchor Leg by Jack CroxallI remember the moment I first wanted to become a writer. I was sitting in my early-teenage bedroom reading The Amber Spyglass between stints of homework, GameCube and playing electric guitar badly, when *spoiler alert* star-crossed adolescents Lyra and Will were forced into parallel universes never to see each other again.

Before starting the His Dark Materials trilogy I had bypassed the YA genre completely, choosing to graduate straight from children’s books to novels aimed at adults. With the benefit of hindsight, I suppose I’d done this in some misguided attempt to appear cool. Thankfully, however, Philip Pullman’s books were knocking about the house for some reason and one day I just happened to pick one up.

I was not ready for the heart-breaking ending of The Amber Spyglass. It got to me in a way that nothing I had ever read/watched had done so before. I’d identified with the characters early on and, although I didn’t fully appreciate all of the complex themes the books explored during that first read, the plot drew me in hook, line and sinker. Before that ending I hadn’t ever given much thought to the fact that books were actually written by people. I expect that, if you’d asked me who the author of The Amber Spyglass was when I’d just started reading it, I’d probably have given you the same vacant expression I gave my maths teacher whenever she asked me to expand an equation. But, once I’d read the book’s final sentence, I immediately turned over to the cover and thought, Mr Pullman, I want to be able to make people feel how you’ve just made me feel. And in truth, that was depressed, distressed and devastated – but in a good way.

From that moment on I started feasting on nothing but YA, only picking up the occasional "adult" novel once I was into my twenties. I do enjoy reading books aimed at mature audiences but I rarely connect with them like I do with novels following adolescents. After much reflection, I think this must be because some of the trials and tribulations teenagers go through are universal and that means I can still relate to them despite being slightly less Y and a little more A these days.

So, when I finally sat down to write my first novel (sadly my education got in the way of me becoming a writer the instant I finished His Dark Materials) there really wasn’t any question over what kind of book it would be. I wanted to write in the genre I loved and, indeed, my protagonist was a teenager named Karl almost from the moment my fingers touched the keyboard.

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Anchor Leg, Jack's latest book is available from Amazon.

Jack Croxall is an author/scriptwriter living in Nottinghamshire.