In her 2004 debut, How I Live Now, Meg Rosoff wrote about the impacts of war on children; about trauma and childhood sexuality, about resilience and suffering. Her extraordinary narrator, 15-year-old Daisy, was a memorable and celebrated creation and How I Live Now went on to win several awards.
Since then, her follow-up books – including Just in Case and What I Was – have been similarly acclaimed, exploring unflinchingly the nature of longing and growing up, the ‘impossible intensity of love and its dog-leaping happiness, the bleak blackness of passions unrequited, or unexpressed, or unresolved.’
In a warm and often humorous conversation, Rosoff discusses the advertising world from which she once drew a paycheque and the lessons she learned from the strict conventions of copywriting. She reads passages from her celebrated books and shares some of the mechanics of her writing process - including the genesis (ahem) of her teenage God.
Rosoff also talks about what it’s like to be the “resident pimp” of her monthly storytelling group in London, the dangers of self-absorption and “too many words”, as well as the importance of avoiding syntactical pastiche in the historical novel.
The much-loved author also generously confesses that she’s interested in characters rather than plots, and shares the advice she’s been given about writing novels. Shuttleworth even elicits a startled gasp when he mentions musician David Byrne’s explanation of Talking Heads song ‘Life During Wartime’ - which, it turns out, was How I Live Now’s working title.
Mike Shuttleworth is a youth literature activist, organising events and writing about youth literature since 2002.
Meg Rosoff is a celebrated and award-winning author for young adults.