Author M A Bennet talks about writing her debut YA novel, S.T.A.G.S.
What is S.T.A.G.S about?
It’s about Greer, a girl who is struggling to settle into Sixth Form at the exclusive St Aidan the Great boarding school, known as S.T.A.G.S. Just when she despairs of making friends, she receives an invitation to spend half term enjoying traditional English bloodsports at the country manor of the most popular and wealthy boy at school. But what begins as a country house weekend becomes something increasingly dark and twisted.
What inspired the book?
My research came from growing up next to a huge stately home in Yorkshire. My granny was the housekeeper and I was raised in the housekeeper’s cottage on the edge of the estate. The family in the big house would have regular shooting parties and my granny would be working at them. Years later I wondered what it would be like to have a shooting party with no adults present, and how quickly things would get out of hand.
What are the main themes of the book?
A major part of the book is a teen cult that rejects modernity, especially screens—mobile phones, social media and the internet—and calls those who use them “Savage”. It asks the question: is social media really social? In one sense it connects children like never before; in another, it makes them vulnerable 24/7. But can we put the genie back in the bottle? And if we can, should we, or do the many benefits of the digital age outweigh the new problems children face?
As a début author, how have you found the experience of being published?
It’s actually been amazing. S.T.A.G.S was bought on a partial manuscript (three chapters), which I’m told is very rare. It has sold to quite a few countries and been optioned for a film by Fox/Chernin Entertainment, and it’s not even out yet! I just hope people like it.
What are you working on next?
Three more YA books, including a sequel to S.T.A.G.S.
S.T.A.G.S by M A Bennett will be published by Hot Key Books on 10th August.