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Yoof of today!

Now that I'm a published author (!) it seems I am suddenly qualified to talk to the youth of today on writing. I think the minute I feel qualified to spout on about how others should write will be the day I am as far away from being qualified as I'm ever likely to get. But teenagers are tough interviewers. Last week I was summoned to the editorial office of Exposure,a north London magazine run by young adults for other young adults. I had four of them fire questions on A Clockwork Apple, and I was amazed at how much detail they remembered. The interview turned into an engaging debate about how teenagers are expected to behave and are in turn treated by society. I left feeling on a high - totally energised. I was glad, then, to learn I have been invited to give an informal talk next month in Brixton. There's also another as well as a workshop in Manchester for teenage girls from Moss-Side, my old neighbourhood and that of Alex and her Grrrlz from my novel. Yet never mind that I'm there in my capacity as author - I would be just as fit to talk to these mini Moss-Siders just as myself as I've always believed that what many people find inspiring is the ability to identify with their struggles, and on that particular note I feel incredibly privileged to hopefully be able to convey just how hard it was and how plentiful the obstacles were to not just getting out of Moss-Side, but to escape its confines in your head. And I don't just mean leave physically - Moss-Side is, in my opinion, a much more cosmopolitan, vibrant outlook than most other areas in Manchester, but in also shaking off the stigma that accompanies the place name and embarking upon a discovery of one's own voice - not just the writing voice, but the voice that gets you tnrough life - the voice that either merely survives or, much better, thrives.

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-Dedicated with love and respect to Dr Bruce Lloyd-


And in memory of my parents:
Thomas Valentine and Joan Theresa
Good people who taught me so much more than they realised

***


The biggest thank-you is due to Norma Clarke, Professor of English Literature and Creative Writing at Kingston University, who supervised this PhD. I never had cause to doubt my initial instincts as Norma proved to be the best mentor I could ever have wished for.

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