My first three books were middle grade fantasy novels about stroppy teenage tooth fairies. At the time, I was teaching Year 6 (10-11 year olds) in primary school so I had a captive audience for my stories. I was able to read parts of the books out and get feedback from the pupils too. Some took home the whole manuscripts to read which was a little scary, but they were truthful in what they liked and what they thought didn't work. So why change to YA?
I saw YA as a challenge, something I didn't really think I would be able to do. There were so many good YA writers out there already. Why did the world need another one, especially an inexperienced one? But the need to do something different burnt away at me as I was reading more and more YA novels and enjoyed them. I also started interacting online with YA writers and readers, seeking advice about the different things I should take into account when writing YA - like swearing and love scenes! I was already a member of SCBWI which also helped.
Fantasy has always been my first love. Books like Faerie Wars, The Hobbit, LOTR played a huge part in my early YA reading. For me, it was a natural move from middle grade fantasy into YA paranormal writing. There had been a lot written about vampires and werewolves so I consciously didn't want to write about them. Having had a fascination with ghosts from an early age, I knew that was the route I wanted to take, but it needed something different, an edge.
Marvin's Curse is about a 17 year old boy who inherits the gift of communicating with the spirit world, something he sees as a curse. After meeting a confused teenage spirit who does not realise she's dead, Marvin reluctantly agrees to help her find her memories.The book takes the reader to an underground world, Moghador, a halfway place where those who cannot or will not crossover dwell. A decrepit pawnbroker holds the key to their problem.
Middle grade is something I would go back to, but for the moment, I'm sticking with YA.