Many South African readers are already well acquainted with SA Partridge, who writes edgy and somewhat dark YA fiction. Her novels, The Goblet Club, Fuse and Dark Poppy's Demise deal with a range of subjects, from premeditated murder and bullying, to stalking.
So, without further ado, welcome to Ms Partridge!
ND: You write stories for teens/young adults. How do you stay current with the trends that are popular? Especially when it comes to issues that are pertinent to youngsters.
SP: I spend an inordinate amount of time online, trawling Tumblr and Twitter and also Goodreads, so I’m pretty in tune with the current YA trends, and what people are reading. I also use the opportunity of school visits to pick the brains of the students to find out what’s hot on their radar. When it comes to writing about issues, it’s tricky as most are done to death. I tend to focus more on plot and worry about the rest later. That said, I’m keen to see race and homosexuality tackled more in YA. I recently finished Death of a Saint, the second in Lily Herne’s Mall Rats series, which features a young lesbian as one its protagonists. It was really refreshing to read and a brave step on the author’s part.
ND: How do some of the issues you faced as a teen compare to what youngsters experience now?
SP: Well everyone comes with their own baggage. My experience as a teenage outcast is my own history. Everybody’s is different. Part of being a writer is putting yourself in other people’s shoes and anticipating how you would react to different situations. Also, if you’re writing about a sensitive subject its best to spend some time with someone who’s been there, so you’re doing their experience justice, rather than merely assuming.
ND: Are there any present issues that jump out now that you feel could/should be treated in literature?
SP: As I mentioned above, racial identity is an important topic for YA. I would love to read the account of a young Muslim growing up in present day America or anywhere for that matter. Homosexuality is another as is women’s rights and what that means to some girls growing up in country’s where those rights are not guaranteed. I’m currently obsessed with the idea of identity so anything that ties in with that is something that I would like to read about.
ND: Your most recent work, Dark Poppy's Demise, engages the idea of stalking. How far did you go with the research with this? Any behind-the-scenes sharing you're willing to do?
SP: A lot of people ask me that. The book is partly autobiographical, but mostly fictional. I have had a relationship with someone I met online, so writing about a young girl falling in love with someone via Chat wasn’t hard at all. I’ve made some very good friends online, but not all the encounters were pleasant so I have experience of both. I interviewed someone who was the victim of stalking, which was an eye opener for me, as I didn’t know how harrowing it actually is.
ND: Your characters--what do you do to imbue them with the breath of life? What makes them real people to you?
SP: As crazy as this sounds, seeing them as real people helps a lot. Make lists of their likes, their dislikes, what amuses them, what are their defining characteristics, what their friends like about them etc. Imagine them doing stupid things like going shopping and writing down all the things that they do that makes them unique. Imagine them having a conversation. What do they sound like, what do they look like when they laugh, what slang do they use? You can’t convince anyone that they’re real unless they are.
ND: Care to spill the beans on any future projects?
SP: I am currently revising a manuscript that is sitting with my agent, another is sitting with my South African publisher that I’m keen to maybe add another 20 or so thousand on. Both are set in the here and now as I believe the very worst horror is the horror of real life. I have no idea if and when anything is going to be published. The revision process takes time and I’d rather not release something into the world until it’s the very best it can be.
What are you reading?
Tooth and Nail by Jennifer Safrey
Current favourite musician?
Best eatery in your home town?
When I eat out it’s for mostly ice cream so Haagen Das or Sinful
What film are you dying to see?
Where do you want to go on holiday this year?