When I was a teenager I had one overriding desire and that was to be older. When I was twelve I wanted to be fifteen like the cool girls in school who wore stockings under their white knee length socks and plucked their eyebrows until they were thin lines that tapered away to nothing. These girls swore and chewed gum aggressively and pointed their chests out wherever they walked. I so wanted a chest like that. These girls were my heroes.
When I was fifteen I wanted to be like the seventeen year olds in the sixth form who got picked up outside school by boys in cars. These girls had secret smiles that suggested knowledge that I didn't have. Knowledge of the opposite sex, gained in the back seats of those very cars. I watched them in the dining room or walking across the playground. Their very walk was sensual and suggestive and I felt sore to my throat at the life they were having that I had to wait for.
When I was seventeen I envied the older girl who was in work, who was 'courting' her boyfriend or possibly engaged. She had stepped out of the back of a car and into the arms of a wage earner, a boy in a sheepskin jacket or suit. She was allowed to stay over at his house. She had her own money, a wage slip, a P45, a tube season ticket and luncheon vouchers. She could afford a wash and set each Saturday and a drawer full of unopened packets of tights. I wanted to be that girl.
When I write books for teenagers it doesn't take long for me to pull up those emotions from my memory. That craving to be something that you are not. Isn't that often a theme in much of the adult fiction that we read? People often talk about teens as though they are a different species. They are not though. They are just experiencing the big Themes of Life. They are just becoming adults.