Sally Partridge on writing her first book and her love for words

Sally Partridge. Picture: Warren Rasmussen

Sally Partridge. Picture: Warren Rasmussen

The author advises aspiring young writers to fall in love with words and their own creativity.

Cape Town-based author Sally Partridge first published at age of 24 and has clinched numerous awards.

She chats to The Citizen about her creative process, writing for young people, and how short-text language makes for interesting subject matter.

How old were you when you wrote your first book?

My first book was published in 2007 when I was 24 years old. I started writing that novel in high school but I have been writing for much longer than that, and have been making up stories for as long as I can remember.

Do ideas come easy and what’s your creative process?

They do. Ideas come from the strangest places. A teenage boy once walked past our picnic blanket at a Kirstenbosch summer concert and his whole story popped into my head.

Sometimes ideas come to me in dreams or while I’m driving on the highway. I keep a journal of the good ones and return to the ideas I like best. Novels usually start as scrapbooks full of ideas and character sketches and random lines of text.

I’ll usually use these books to plot out the story and brainstorm ideas and sometimes actually draw the characters. I always keep these scrapbooks at hand when I write, and refer back to them when I edit the manuscript.

Why the need to create youth-specific literature?

I love writing for and about young people. It’s such an exciting time of life when everything is new and wild and you’re experiencing things like love, betrayal and disappointment for the first time. It’s a time when anything can happen and people can still surprise you.

Is short-text language killing English?

I don’t think so. Last year, I read a book called Emergency Contact by Mary HK Choi, which was centred around two young people texting each other and it was brilliant.

I think tech is adding a new dynamic to fiction. Anything can be Googled and people can call each other instantly. Writers have to incorporate this into their stories and find a way to keep storytelling alive by embracing the new.

Also, the art of conversation is still alive and well. Not everyone talks in text speak, so as long as we have conversation, we can have good dialogue in fiction.

What makes Mine different to your previous works?

Well, it’s my first dedicated love story and it won’t be my last, I’ve already finished another one. It’s also lighter and not as dark as my previous works, which all had an element of the thriller to them.

Mine is all about love, the good, the bad and the scary. In a way, it’s a handbook about being in love and everything that comes with it.

How can we encourage more youths to read?

By exposing them to more books. I love how book bloggers have embraced Instagram and Twitter to share their love of books. They’ve created this incredible online community that celebrates young adult fiction, including local books. I think it’s great and is something that can translate well offline.

What advice do you have for aspiring young writers?

Just write. Fall in love with words and your own creativity and don’t be afraid of what comes after. Write because you love it and you believe in your story

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