Fife-based published author, Christina Banach, has been invited to take part in the UKYA Extravaganza, a national Young Adult fiction event designed to raise the profile of Young Adult fiction within the UK.
Taking place in Birmingham on 28th February, the sell-out event will feature thirty-five successful authors of Young Adult fiction and will include readings, signings and discussions with fans and book bloggers. Christina, the only Scottish author to take part, will read from her highly acclaimed book, Minty.
As part of a month-long Blog Tour to highlight each author and their books, Christina, whose book, Minty, was the Scottish Book Trust Teen’s Book of the Month in December 2014, will feature on SisterSpooky’s blog on February 23rd.
Currently working on her next novel, Christina hopes that the Birmingham event will be only the beginning and that there will be many more UKYA Extravaganzas in the future.
Christina explains: “There has been a misperception that Young Adult fiction is only for children or teens. This is anything but the case: many adults read and love YA fiction too and a number of these share their love and enthusiasm on social media and through book blogging. However, unlike in the USA, Young Adult fiction in the UK doesn’t always receive the wider attention it deserves. Until now, that is. As is evidenced by the recently inaugurated YA Book Prize, there is a move afoot to bring UK-based Young Adult fiction to the fore. The UKYA Extravaganza is part of that. I am thrilled at the prospect of mingling at this wonderful event with book lovers of all ages.”
Originally from West Lothian and now living in Lochgelly, Christina Banach turned her back on a successful teaching career to follow her dream of becoming a published author.
Crediting her late father for giving her the confidence to reignite her childhood love of penning stories, Christina began writing again in late 2001. A gift of a new laptop from her dad shortly before he died, coinciding with a period of her own ill health, prompted Christina to re-evaluate her life and decide the time was right for a change. In 2006 she left education to become a full-time writer with the full support of her husband Edward, a systems engineer.
After an eleven-year struggle to find her voice, Christina landed a publishing deal for her debut novel, Minty, which is receiving 5 star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
Fife features heavily in her book, with Ruby Bay in Elie the setting for a tragic event which sets the scene for a thrilling tale that touches on the afterlife as well as themes such as love, loss, guilt, hope and redemption.
Christina explains: “The idea for the book appeared early one summer morning, just as the sun came up. During the night I thought I sensed my late father’s presence. Unable to get back to sleep I sat in the sunroom contemplating what had actually happened. While doing this I heard my dog panting and put out a hand to stroke her. Until I remembered – she had died the month before. That’s when Minty’s story came to me.”
Drawing on her experiences and her love of dogs, the story of fourteen-year-old Minty and her identical twin, Jess, began to take form. Written to appeal to young adults, the book has nonetheless drawn rave reviews from lovers of fiction young and old alike.
Taking over four years to find a publisher for Minty, Christina landed a coveted deal in 2013 with a new publishing house, Three Hares Publishing, based in London.
Three Hares Publishing explain their decision to sign Christina:
“When the opportunity arose for Three Hares Publishing to acquire Minty as a lead title it felt like she’d come home. Minty is one of the most moving books I’ve read in a long time. It’s a real weepy from start to finish but with heart and warmth at the core. It’s a cross between The Lovely Bones (without the grim murder) and Ghost and it stays with you long after you’ve finished the book.”
Being a headteacher has undoubtably enabled Christina to connect with young people, however her biggest critic is herself. Christina explains: ”Closing my ears to my inner critic – the goblin of self-doubt that perches on my shoulder and tells me that everything I write is rubbish – is hugely challenging. It is heartening therefore to read so many positive reviews, particularly from young people who have discovered the joy of reading.”
And for those who may think writing is an easy life, Christina says writing is more time consuming than that of a full time job. She writes from early morning until late afternoon, six days a week. The life of a modern writer also involves attending reader events and regular engagement with fans through social media with reviews on sites such as Amazon or Goodreads very important to the success of the book. Christina has already taken her book to schools and is very much looking forward to doing so again. She is delighted to be included on the Scottish Book Trust’s Live Literature Funding Author Database.
A member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and the Society of Authors, Christina is already on to her next book – a contemporary ghost story-come-psychological thriller, set mainly in Glencoe. Although primarily a piece of fiction, it is written to entertain while exploring some really big, topical, and somewhat controversial, issues. She aims to have the final draft completed in a few months.
Minty is available to buy or download from Amazon. christinabanach.com