YA Shot Tour Post: Tom Easton on Funny Books
As huge fans of Tom Easton’s Boys Don’t Knit and his Our House series, we agree with him that funny books need love! We’re thrilled to be hosting this awesome guest post.
Humour in UKYA
I’ve been writing for over ten years and I write in different genres, for different age groups. I love the variety and I feel that I have learned so much as a writer by forcing myself to write outside my comfort zone for new audiences. I’ve written books which are “boys” books and books which are “girls” books (though I have to say I don’t change my writing style accordingly. Books are pretty much just books whoever the target market is).
The genre I love working in most of all is humour for YA. Not the easiest, I hasten to add. Humour is never easy and YA humour is very tricky indeed. But these are the books I love writing most. If I’m writing a chapter on a wet Tuesday in November, at 6.48am, on a train full of coughing, sneezing people, with a day of work stress awaiting me, then the last thing I feel like doing, or feel able to do, is come up with a killer joke that will appeal to 12-18 year olds without offending anyone.
Not everyone loved my 2014 book Boys Don’t Knit, but enough people did for me to feel that some of those jokes were worth the effort, some of the ludicrous scenes which I sweated over for months were as well-targeted as I’d hoped. Humour is a very subjective thing and it’s instructive to read reviews which run the full gamut. Some people didn’t laugh once reading the book, they just didn’t get it. They didn’t see why it was funny. That’s fair enough. Other people literally cried with laughter. Humour, like no other genre, really splits the audience. Is this why humour books don’t win awards very often, because you can’t get a unanimous verdict?
Writing for teenagers is wonderful because you know they’re going to get “adult” jokes and understand more complex concepts than younger readers, but one is also still allowed to be joyously silly. One doesn’t have to be knowing and cynical. The action can be mad and slightly exaggerated. You can just have fun. But it’s still hard. And it seemed to me when I started writing this piece that there are a lot of funny MG books and funny picture books and funny books for 5-7 yr olds, but not so many in the teen category. Why is that? Do children suddenly get all serious about stuff when they hit puberty? Is it because girls turn to dystopian romance and fantasy and boys stop reading altogether? These seem like generalisations to me. Everyone likes a funny book, don’t they?
So I asked Twitter for its favourite UKYA funny books and was delighted by the response. It turns out there are more UK authors writing funny YA than I’d realised, and I think they need celebrating. Some of the books below I’ve read and loved, some I’d never even heard of, but are now on my TBR. So rather than trying to write a little review of each, I’ve provided links to reviews of each book from various bloggers. Please do click through, bloggers need a little love too! The list is not exhaustive and I’m sorry if I’ve missed any of your favourites.
The It Girl – Katy Birchall. Review from Annelise Books
Flirty Dancing – Jenny McLachlan. Review from Books and Flowers.
Geekhood – Andy Robb. Review by Total Teen Fiction
Holly Smale – Geek Girl Series. Review by YA Yeah Yeah
Joe Cowley – Ben Davis. Review by The Book Bag
When Mr Dog Bites – Brian Conaghan. Review by Overflowing Library
Adrian Mole – Sue Townsend. Review by Drifting Pages
Diary of a Chav – Grace Dent. Review by This Fleeting Dream
Socks are Not Enough – Mark Lowery. Review by Wondrous Reads
Lobsters – Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison. Review by Cheezyfeetbooks
My Big, Fat, Mad Diary – Rae Earl. Review by Books and Cupcakes
Waiting for Callback – Perdita and Honor Cargill. Review by Delightful Book Reviews
Half My Facebook Friends are Ferrets – JA Buckle. Review by Never Anyone Else
The Best Medicine – Christine Hamill. Review by Books for Keeps
The Savages – Matt Whyman. Review by the Bibliomaniac
Rachel Riley – Joanna Nadin. Review by Making Them Readers
A Boy Called Hope – Lara Williamson. Review by The Books Bandit
Accidental Superstar – Marianne Levy. Review by girlvsbooks
Girl Out of Water – Nat Luurtsema. Review by Laura’s Little Book Blog
Lia’s Guide to Winning the Lottery – Keren David. Review from Our Book Reviews Online
15 Days Without a Head – Dave Cousins. Review by The Book Addicted Girl
I am an author of fiction for all ages and have had more than thirty books published. I have written under a number of different pseudonyms in a variety of genres. Subjects include vampires, pirates, pandemics and teenage agony aunts (not all in the same book). I live in Surrey with my wife, three children and two cats. In my spare time I work as a Production Manager for a UK publisher.
My YA humour book Boys Don’t Knit was published in 2014 and received the following accolades:
Winner of the Coventry Inspiration Book Award 2015
Shortlisted for the Leeds Book Award 2015
Shortlisted for Peter’s Book of the Year 2015
Longlisted for the Nottingham Book Award 2015
Nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2015
My latest book is Our House: Time to Shine (review by Chestnut Reading Tree), the second in a new series for children 8-12. Book one was published on the 7th April 2016 by Piccadilly Press. Book 2 was published in August 2016. I am currently writing a new humorous book for teenagers in a similar vein to Boys Don’t Knit. It will be released in the UK in April 2107 and in the US in Jan 2018. More details to follow.
Check out my website at www.tomeaston.co.uk
Follow me on Twitter @tomeaston
Or friend me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TomEastonauthor/