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The Manchester Literature Festival Blog

Young Digital Reporter Review: Sally Green and Lauren Owen

Young Digital Reporter Amy Turner reviews our Sally Green and Lauren Owen event at Central Library…

On October 13th , the newly refurbished Manchester Central Library was host to the incredibly talented and up and coming supernatural fiction writers Sally Green and Lauren Owen, whilst they promoted their first pieces of young adult fiction. As there is of course nothing more exciting than an ‘extended lunchtime of dark supernatural fiction’, the afternoon started with a reading from Sally Green of her debut novel Half Bad. Breaking world records as the most translated book by a debut author before publication, Half Bad begins with sixteen-year-old Nathan, a half black and half white witch, trapped within a cage and abused. Nathan is presented with the challenge of escaping his confinement before his seventeenth birthday, where three gifts will be waiting for him; otherwise he will die. The blurring of modern life interweaved with a fantasy world of spells and magic makes it another exciting addition to the landscape of young fantasy fiction, however Sally was open to admitting, that before writing the novel, she was never a great fan of the genre herself.

Next on stage was Lauren Owen, author of The Quick. She describes the piece as a combination of ‘supernatural, gothic and Victorian fiction all intertwined into one’. Fascinated with the Victorian era in her younger years, Owen uses various political movements that were of prominence at this time in history as inspiration for her novel. The concept of the ‘new woman’ that is often circumscribed to nostalgic tales such as Jane Eyre, Oscar Wilde and the controversy surrounding his homosexuality as well as the alleged decline and collapse of the British Empire have all remained of interest to Owen during the completion of her fictional debut.

Described by Hilary Mantel as ‘a sly and glittering addition to the literature of the macabre’, The Quick tells the story of James Norbury and his sister Charlotte. Whilst James is away living in London and his sister is back at home living on the crumbling family estate, James mysteriously disappears. After a certain amount of time having past with no recent communication from him, Charlotte becomes concerned about the welfare of James and travels to London herself to solve this mystery. What does she find? Well that’s for you to find out…

The question and answer session provided the audience with an insight into the meticulous research the pair had to go into when completing their drafts, not only producing a fictional piece but also simultaneously educating themselves in fields they had not previously engaged with. They discuss the very close line between writing for teens and writing for adults and although psychologically and mentally there is no major contrasting difference, to interact with a teenage audience can sometimes be a complicated task. Sally stated, ‘I was just trying to write the book I would have loved to read when I was fifteen’, which I would assume, accurately sums up the mind of every teen fiction writer out there today.