It's always good to have guests on my blog and today I am delighted to welcome Young Adult author Carol Hedges, who is going to tell us something about herself and her work.
Carol has a degree in English and Archaeology, which - spookily enough - I do, too. But I expect she has forgotten far more about archaeology than I ever knew, because I worked in the comparatively narrow field of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology as part of a degree course in English Literature, and the last time I got my hands dirty was during an excavation in the Old Kent Road about twenty years ago.
Carol has worked as a librarian, a children's clothes designer, a dinner lady, a classroom assistant at a special needs school and a teacher. She has written eleven published novels and one ebook. She has a grown-up daughter, a husband, a pink 2CV (I am very jealous of the pink 2CV) and a lot of fish.
This is what she has to say about her latest novel Jigsaw Pieces:
"I like the idea of being strong. I've grown up with the concept. It's in my bones and my blood. Strong people survive. They don't go under."
So speaks 18 year old Annie, the heroine of my new ebook Jigsaw Pieces. My genre is YA Crime Fiction, and for me, there are two ingredients that go to make up a successful book in this genre. The first, clearly, is a crime of some sort. In Jigsaw Pieces, set in 1998, it is the mysterious death of one of Annie's fellow students.
The second ingredient is a strong female protagonist. So what makes a strong character? Well, it's not enough just to tell readers they are strong. Strong characters have to demonstrate their strength, usually by being pitted against challenging events, or other characters. Annie is taken from her birthplace, Norway, and dumped in an English school, where she has to develop a carapace to survive the daily bullying. Through her determination we learn how strong characters function and survive in difficult situations.
But strength can be shown in softness: Annie 's compassionate side is made clear when she bonds with the mute World War 1 veteran Billy Donne, whom she meets in a nursing home. Strong characters must also have faults: Annie is far too quick to rush to judgement and jump to conclusions. The reader warms to characters with an inner fault line. Maybe because they are a little like us?
At the end of Jigsaw Pieces, Annie discovers that there remains a vital piece of the Jigsaw missing from her life. And here we see the final ingredient of a strong character - there must always be a sense that there is more to be grasped, new and different conflicts to be overcome.
For a strong character, the journey is never complete; there is always another story waiting to be told. I love writing strong female characters like Annie because they are so multifaceted and complex. They challenge me and push me to my limits. I hope they do the same for my readers as well.
Twitter - @carolJhedges
Facebook - Carol Hedges
www. Shewrites.com www.