This weeks unpublished me post comes to you from the very talented Josh Martin! Josh is a British YA author who was responsible for giving us Ariadnis earlier this year. It was he's interest in heroines, fantasy, environment, gender studies and wisdom that led him to write Ariadnis and the highly anticipated companion novel Anassa - due early next year from Quercus/Hachette.
Hey man, I mean You. The one practicing his lines for drama class in the mirror.
Hi. Future You here. Thanks, mate, yeah I know. The beard helps. Er... look... I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but this acting thing? It’s not going to work out, man. You’re going to give this up. And you never learn to cry on demand. And you never meet Keira Knightley. (Well, at least, you haven’t yet and as it seems she’s very much happily married and sprogged up in the year 2017, do yourself a favour and take down the Pirates of the Caribbean/Pride & Prejudice poster you’ve been mooning over now).
What did you say?
Oh right. Yeah, man. I’m totally serious. No acting career. Nope. Not a bit. All those auditions didn’t pay off (although we will totally fool at least one of the scary gatekeepers at Bristol Old Vic into thinking we are for real crying in our audition – a tip from the past though? Don’t make up your own script and then go in pretending it’s already a published play THEY WILL RUMBLE YOU).
Well... you know that Buffy/Lord of the Rings type story you started a couple of years ago? Of course you do, you’re writing a version of it right now, as memory serves.
You are fifteen. It’s the first novel you ever write and it’s 90,000 words and let’s be real, it’s not very good. Keep your Beatles haircut on pal, let me explain.
***It doesn’t matter that it’s crap***
OF COURSE you have to think it’s good as you’re writing it, otherwise why are you writing it? But a few months on, you’re gonna look back and say, OK, maybe that needs to change. OK, maybe I’m not as good as I thought I was.
GOOD. KEEP IT UP. You’ve got more of that to come. By the time you are as good as you think you are, you’re also aware that you’ve still got a lot more to learn, and that makes you a better writer than you ever imagined you might be. The best thing about you is that you know these girls, Aula and Joomia, they have a story for them somewhere. You know because you can feel it. You are right.
It’s going to take you another eight years to find that story, though. Three more attempted versions and one more full manuscript (This one is going to weigh in at a hefty 146,000 words – mon dieu!).
It will all change in this moment: you’ll be on your MA at Bath Spa, and you’ll be in a room with other incredible writers, and everyone will have a copy of the latest thing you’ve been trying. You’re going to have a lot of fun on this MA. You’re going to meet Yael and Lucinda, who apart from being incredible, imaginative storytellers (you’re going to read their stuff and think: Shit, I’ve got to up my game here) are also going to be very important friends to you. Not least of all, they are going to pull you aside and quietly tell you that the romantic arc for Joomia just isn’t going to work because she’s gay. Game changers.
Anyway, sorry, back that moment:
The very talented, very lovely Lucy Christopher (your tutor –she wrote Stolen!) is going to look over at you and gently tell you that she thinks you need to go back and find who this story is really about and focus on them.
You can’t believe it. How can you have lost sight of who this story is about? Well, you have. You’ve seriously overcomplicated things. You’ll go home, feeling defeated and miserable. But that night you’ll pull your laptop over and think about Moira Young’s Saba and Patrick Ness’s Todd and Philip Pullman’s Lyra and you’ll write these words:
Cos today is my birthday, seventeen owls are culled outside my window at dawn.
And from that moment, you’ll have Aula. She’ll explode across the page, she’ll pretty much write all her own scenes. And because you have Aula, you’ll have Joomia, because though you’ve often tried to separate one from the other, you’ll have finally learned that you can’t have one without the other. They come as a pair...
So Young Josh, go shave the bumfluff off your face (don’t worry we get a real – er... slightly patchy - beard eventually) grow out that hair, put that script down and get back on that ancient Toshiba Satellite laptop. You’ve got another character arc to mess up.
Publication Date: 9th Feb 2017
Back then I thought that if it weren't for that cliff, our cities would be one and there would be no need for all this fierceness toward each other. But then I learned about pride and tradition and prophecy, and those things are harder than rock. Joomia and Aula are Chosen. They will never be normal. They can never be free. On the last island on Erthe, Chosen Ones are destined to enter Ariadnis on the day they turn eighteen. There, they must undertake a mysterious and deadly challenge. For Joomia and Aula, this means competing against each other, to end the war that has seethed between their cities for nine generations. As the day draws nearer, all thoughts are on the trial ahead. There's no space for friendship. No time for love. However much the girls might crave them. But how you prepare for a task you know nothing certain about? Nothing, except that you must win, at whatever cost, or lose everything.