Thursday, 12 July 2012

Read to Write

Dear Writer,

Well, it’s been a busy couple of weeks for me since I last blogged. In Fun and Random News, I went to a sleepover with my niece, got invited to go and see one of my all-time heroes, Bruce Springsteen, and got attacked by a dog whilst out running! And, in Work News, I’ve been putting the finishing touches to my next YA novel, Finding Cherokee Brown, and preparing to start work on a screen adaptation of Dear Dylan. I also, thankfully, got some time to read.

Reading is such a crucial part of being a writer. To me it’s like putting petrol in a car – reading someone else’s beautifully written words seems to help fill up your own writing tank. And every once in a while I come across a book so mind-blowingly powerful and well-written it makes me want to leap up and down and tell everyone about it – and then go away and raise my own writing game.

Last weekend I read one such book – so please take a moment to picture me leaping up and down. And waving my arms about. And holding a banner reading: BUY THIS BOOK!!!

The book in question? The YA novel, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.

There are many, many reasons why I love Code Name Verity. Here are just a few:

  • It is a celebration of friendship
  • It has two wonderful central characters
  • It features brave and interesting girls in action roles – there is no sappy ‘waiting for Mister Right / Mister Vampire’ in this book!
  • It perfectly recreates the drama and tension of World War II
  • The plot is full of twists and turns
  • It made me laugh out loud and cry my eyes out because I became so emotionally attached to the characters

At one point, when I’d got to a particularly harrowing scene and was blubbing like a baby, my son came in. When I told him that I was crying at the book I was reading he stared at me in disbelief. ‘Books can’t make you cry,’ he said. But oh, yes they can. If they are well-written enough and if the writer is able to create characters that leap off the page and straight into your heart, then they can make you laugh and cry and gasp and shout.

Elizabeth Wein did all of that and more. And that’s why I’m saying that all budding writers should read her book – it’s the best, most riveting masterclass in writing I could possibly recommend.


There’s now just one week to go before the very first Dear Writer competition closes. So, if you would like to win a signed copy of Dear Dylan – or me as your very own writing mentor for a month – then take a look at my previous post for details.

And, if you would like to know more about the fairytale story behind Dear Dylan and how it went from a self-published experiment to winning a national award and going to auction – and ultimately leading me to set up this very website – then check out this article I recently wrote for We Love This Book. I hope you find it inspiring…

Till next week,

Happy writing!

Siobhan x

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