Project UKYA has declared it UKYA day – a day to celebrate YA lit being written by British authors, or authors based in the UK. I thought I’d take the chance to celebrate some of my heroes of UKYA….just some…I could have gone on for ever.
1. Keris Stainton
Oh, wow, where to start? Not only did Keris take on 90% of the work when we set up UKYA.co.uk when we realised that UKYA had no dedicated home on the internet (boy, has that changed!). She’s also the powerhouse behind the charity auctions Authors for the Philippines and Authors for Japan, which between them raised more than £70,000 for disaster victims. What’s more, her books are warm, funny and distinctly British. Starring Kitty, her latest is out in June.
2. Lucy Powrie
If there’s a list of the most impressive teens in the universe, stick Lucy’s name on it. She started championing UKYA on her excellent blog Queen of Contemporary. Then she set up the aforementioned Project UKYA. She made a video. She hosts regular UKYA chats (#ukyachat) on Twitter that often trend nationally. Can you imagine what she could achieve if she had a job and a budget? Roll on the day that Lucy leaves school and starts running one of the big publishing companies.
3. The Bookette + other British book bloggers.
Becky, aka The Bookette set up the British Book Challenge in 2011, and since then the baton has been passed around the blogging community. It’s a simple enough challenge – read as many British books as you can in a year, link to the challenge and share your reviews, but it’s done so much to raise the profile of UKYA. Way back in 2011, a lot of people thought of YA as a predominantly American thing, and they hadn’t got the taste for home-grown fiction. Thanks to all of you for your reviews, your enthusiasm and your general loveliness – British bloggers are low on snark, which is much appreciated by us sensitive souls. A special mention to Jim of YaYeah who conceived and organised the Countdown to June 5 – a day when vast numbers of UKYA books are being published (including my Salvage, out in paperback).
4. Malorie Blackman
Our current Children’s Laureate has put the spotlight firmly on UKYA, as well she might as one of our leading stars. When Malorie was appointed she said: ‘We are incredibly lucky to have such a wealth of fantastic children’s authors and illustrators in this country who create incredible stories for young adults to enjoy. It’s so important to encourage, sustain and where necessary instil a love of reading in our teenagers. Reading opens doors and creates life opportunities. That’s why I want to do my utmost to promote YA books for all our young (and older!) readers.’
To that end Malorie has organised the UK’s first ever YA con, which will be taking place in July, details here. It’s an amazing list of some of UKYA’s top talents, including Sophie McKenzie, Ruth Warburton, James Dawson, Cat Clarke, Phil Earle, Holly Smale, Meg Rosoff and Patrick Ness. Not me, I’m sad to say, but I’m hoping to get involved in another way – watch this space.
5. Anne Cassidy
She’s the queen of UKYA crime, award-winning author of more than 30 novels, most recently the electrifying Finding Jennifer Jones, a long-awaited sequel to her classic Looking for JJ. She also thought up the Awfully Big Blog Adventure, probably the best blog in the UK for those interested in writing and reading children’s and teen books. (I’m a little biassed here as I’m an ABBA blogger) .
6. Mal Peet
I’m picking Mal as one of my favourite UKYA writers of all time. His books could be international best sellers for the adult market, but he’s happy to write for young adults. They are rich and satisfying, work on many levels and have no limits in their reach or ambition.