YA author Annabel Pitcher talks about her new book Silence is Goldfish (Orion, published in October), in which teenage girl Tess has to deal with twitter bullying, inappropriate teachers, and discovering that her Dad is not her biological father.
What inspired you to write the book?
There were many different things but I wanted to write about a girl who worries about the pressure to conform and be loud and outgoing. The story is about her learning to be the true version of herself, which is quieter and more introverted, and goes against what her Dad thinks she should be.
I wanted to write about parenthood because I was pregnant when I was writing it, so wanted to write about what being a parent means. I was exploring how you can be a parent even if you’re not the biological parent. In the second draft, after my baby was born, I was much kinder to Jack [the father character] than in the first draft, because I realised it’s actually quite challenging to be a parent.
Which are your favourite characters?
Obviously I love Tess and I spent a lot of time with her when I was breastfeeding my son but my favourite character has to be Henry [Tess’ friend]. I love his view of what it means to be successful and how we can all relax and enjoy life a bit more, which is a philosophy we could all do with. I think we would be friends if we ever met in real life.
In the book Tess doesn’t have the so-called ‘ideal’ body but she doesn’t seem that worried about it. Was that deliberate?
Absolutely, yes. Some teens aren’t that bothered about body image. Of course some of them are, but I wanted to show a positive role model in that respect.
How did you come up with the title?
I never know how I come up with titles, they often just strike me when I’m walking the dog! A goldfish is very important in the storyline and I was also thinking about the phrase ‘silence is golden’ in relation to Tess. So Silence is Goldfish just came together.
Are you excited about what is happening with UKYA at the moment?
It’s an incredibly exciting time. I love things like the UKYA chats on twitter and events like YALC. There is so much energy and it’s gaining momentum in a wonderful way.
Annabel Pitcher will be appearing at YALC this weekend, 17th-19th July, at Olympia