In summer 2011 I lay on a beach on a little holiday and announced to Leigh my retirement from chick-lit in favour of the teen fiction that seemed to have been gradually replacing the women's lit for a while. I had got a bit typecast ('scuse the pun) - the Louise Bagshawes, Sophie Kinsellas, Cecilia Aherns and so on) and I was increasingly being asked to do work that wasn't 'me'. Plus, there were plenty of up-and-comers who would be happy to take up that mantle, and good luck to them!
So. It turned out to be the best decision I'd made in years as work rolled in soon after of a type which seemed to suggest 'you were right Mole', including series such as this one, the Rachel Riley Diaries! Number 7, the last one in the series, went off to press last week, but won't be seen on this blog for a bit as it's too new. And it's different from the first six...!
Like my other favourite teen author, Hayley Long, Joanna Nadin has been twice nominated for the Queen of Teen Award; she also has a previous life as Tony Blair's Special Advisor, and as Labour Party Policy Writer. Hmmm, impressive. Equally impressive to me was her working for a pop star (I get the feeling we're the same age) - over to you Joanna:
'I have certainly had a random career path, from being an assistant wardrobe mistress (I got to wash and iron clothes for Fine Young Cannibals’ singer Roland Gift, who was very famous in the 1980s) to reading the news on local radio, to writing scripts for the Prime Minister, and advising John Prescott what to say on TV. Working at Number 10 was incredibly exciting, and without a doubt the best “real” job I have had. And I still write speeches for Ministers now. I just get to do it from the sofa, instead of the corridors of power. As for deciding to become a writer – it was a kind of happy accident, really. I spent so much of my time as a teenager (and later on) inventing a life for myself, like Rachel. A life where things “happened”. But reality never worked out quite like it did in the script. And I felt cheated, until I realised I could give other people the adventures I had wanted for myself. That’s how I ended up writing my first book. Rachel was written as a kind of testament to what I saw as my tedious youth. Because at the time I was desperate to get out. But looking back, it was actually pretty exciting.'
As the news breaks mid-blogging session, I learn we both grew up Thatcher's children with Dads tutting and frowning concernedly at the TV. A fellow outspoken teenager with a mouth as big as her ambitions, I too dreamed of changing the world but through drawing not writing. I may not be changing the world, but on a day when arguably one of the most controversial leaders has just been announced as having passed on, and all that that means, I feel privileged to be drawing for people like Joanna, whose detailed, charming, highly gigglesome stories speak directly to my perma-teen...the same teen who still wears her '85 Top Shop hoops and wanted to marry Limahl but who was always impressed that Margaret Thatcher was a woman - a terrifying one, a misguided one maybe, but a woman. With earrings and everything.
Read about Rachel Riley and her So-Called Life:
And the books can be bought here: