I am thrilled today to bring you a question and answer with one my favourite childhood authors Janet Quin-Harkin whose Heartbreak Café series is being republished. Who else remembers loving her books when they were a teenager? If you have yet to discover Janet's books then you are in for a real treat!
1. Firstly can I just say how much I loved your books when I was a teenager. I was a huge Boyfriend Club fan and still own the whole series. Ten Boy Summer was also a big favourite! How do you think the young adult genre has changed since your books were first published in the eighties?
YA books today a far more edgy—more like adult novels. My books were more innocent and lighthearted than today’s books. There was never graphic sex and violence, instead I wrote about the romantic ideal most teens wanted.
2. How did you feel when you found out the Heartbreak Cafe series was being republished?
I was amazed. I thought that teens, more than anybody, lived in the present, wanted the latest fashions, music, trends. What would they see in essentially historical fiction like mine? But then I realized that Heartbreak Café is timeless in many ways. It’s characters face the problems still relevant to all teens today—belonging, peer pressure, trying to find their true identity. And Heartbreak Café itself is one of those mystical places at a crossroads, outside of normal society, where people from all levels of society can meet.
3. What can you tell readers about No Experience Required?
Debbie Leslie’s life falls apart when her parents split up. Brought up protected and spoiled, she now has to face living in reduced circumstances and getting a job. When she drives to a beach to think things over she sees the Heartbreak Café and the sign saying waitress wanted. Grandson of the owner, Joe Garbarini, has known hard work and strong family values all his life. He’s sure she won’t last a minute. But as the book progresses they both find she has strengths she didn’t know she possessed. (and being a teen novel, they might just start to fall in love.)
4. I recently found out that you also write adult mystery novels. What did you enjoy most about writing for teenagers and does your writing process differ at all depending on your audience?
Writing teenage novels was such fun. I was able to relive my teens, create the boyfriends I never had, chuckle over the absurd moments. And there is no difference in the writing progress —tell a good story, create real characters, care about them, let them learn and grow.
5. What are some of your all-time favourite YA titles?
I’m a huge fan of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, the Hunger Games. I used to love Madeleine l’Engle. I really like fantasy, but I can’t write it!
6. Can you tell us anything about what you will be working on next?
As Rhys Bowen I write two historical mystery series. I’m currently writing the 9th Royal Spyness novel, featuring Lady Georgie, my minor royal in the 1930s. It’s called Malice at the Palace and is about a royal wedding. Again such fun to write.