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READERSVOICE.COM aims to collect a few interesting reading tips. For this issue I went along to see Lynette Noni give a talk about her YA novel Akarnae, which is the first of five novels in her Medoran Chronicles. She gave a lot of good writing tips, and I mention just a couple of them here. In this edition also, Norman Wallis gives a heads-up about the Lifeline Bookfests for this year.

Lynette Noni reads constantly and has read extensively in the young adult-fantasy genre, which she loves and works in. She said she picked all the fantastic elements she liked in Young Adult novels, then combined them, to write the books she wanted to read.
In her novel Akarnae (Pantera Press) her main character, 16-year-old Alexandra Jennings, is on her first day of school when she walks through a door and finds herself in Medora, a fantasy world. She needs to find Professor Marselle to help her return, but he’s missing. So Alex waits and attends Akarnae Academy, a boarding school for gifted teenagers. She makes friends and starts enjoying life at the strange academy. But sinister forces are afoot, and it’s up to Alex to save the Medorans. But if she does help them, she risks never returning home.
Here are a few of the tips for beginner writers Ms Noni mentioned.
She said authors should have a clear motivation for their main characters. For example, in the Harry Potter series, which Ms Noni liked a lot, Harry Potter’s motivation is to stay alive, and to defeat Lord Voldemort. Meanwhile, the Dark Lord Voldemort’s motivation is to kill Harry Potter. He believes Harry was the one prophesied by Sybill Trelawney as the one who had the power to defeat him. Voldemort also aims to cause all manner of problems for the wizard world, and gain total world domination. He’s a bit of a narcissist, it seems.

Lynette Noni said J. K. Rowling wrote extensive backstories for all her characters. That way she knew how a character would act in a particular situation.
Ms Noni kept a diary of all the events and characters in her stories, so there were no inconsistencies.
World building was important in YA fantasy. Writers had to make decisions about how characters in a setting lived; what they did for a living; the air texture; who is in danger in the community; who are the people with high status in the community; what are the rituals of people in the town; the landscapes. But the world couldn’t be too complicated for readers. It had to be simple enough for readers to escape to, and not stop them from engagement with the story. Escape was what teen readers wanted, and to grow and gain courage and wisdom from reading.
Her favorite books in the last year or so were The Juliette Chronicles: a series including Shatter Me, Unravel Me and Ignite Me, by Tahereh Mafi.
Lynette Noni also liked These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner and its sequel and companion volume This Shattered World.

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– copyright Simon Sandall