Teen Writer Week continues with another talented adolescent. Steph Bowe is sixteen years old and has been running the popular blog, Hey! Teenager of the Year, since April 2009. Being from a rural area in Australia, Steph says she didn’t have many people to talk to in real life about what she was reading. So, she started a blog to fill that void. Since then, she’s also used the blog to review books and interview authors.
Being an author herself, Steph began focusing on the writing and publishing process on Hey! Teenager… “As I’ve become a more serious writer I’ve become a more dedicated blogger, too, and it’s helped me a lot in terms of being aware of the publishing industry, other writers, and YA around the world,” says Steph.
When I asked Steph how old she was when she started writing (that is, with the intent to be published), her answer was 7 (!). She began querying by 14, was agented by 15, and is about to have her first novel, Girl Saves Boy, published at 16. [Note to “grown-ups:” any of you who say kids today are apathetic, unmotivated, and lack the work ethic of their elders, I’d ask you, nicely, to please stop talking.]
While many authors, especially in Australia, have been supportive and helpful to Steph, she hasn’t had any specific mentors: “Writing was something I picked up on my own because I enjoyed it, and the great thing I love about writing is it isn’t really something you need someone else to teach you. Obviously it’s not a club you have to be recruited into, either. You mostly figure stuff out for yourself and do it your own way.”
One Australian writer, Sara Henry, however, was particularly important to Steph. Sara was the first to suggest that Steph contact American literary agents to get Girl Saves Boy out into the world where it belongs. And it’s a good thing Steph listened because U.S. agents were apparently clamoring for her!
Steph says, “I sent out three queries, then three fulls, and within a fortnight had two offers of representation.” Shortly thereafter, Steph was a runner-up in a writer’s blog contest, which awarded her a partial read by yet another agent. That agent was who Steph eventually signed with, and I have the completely unbiased pleasure of saying Steph’s agent is the fabulous Ginger Clark at Curtis Brown, Ltd.
In addition to finishing high school, Steph is currently working on her next novel and hopes to someday work in the publishing industry in Australia. Girl Saves Boy, will be published by Text Publishing in Australia this September and then in the U.S. by Egmont USA in 2011. It is a moving story about a girl who saves a boy from drowning, leaving the two to deal with the consequences of a romance. Steph would like for Girl Saves Boy to speak to teens who feel isolated or misunderstood, which, she admits, “is basically every teenager ever.”