Wednesday 8 May 2019

Launching The Disconnect by Keren David

Take one box of cupcakes, two groups of readers, and three lovely librarians ....and you have my launch party last week for The Disconnect, my 11th book.  cakes 2

The Disconnect is my third book for Barrington Stoke, those lovely publishers from Edinburgh who specialise in books for dyslexic and reluctant readers. I love writing for them, partly because I'm passionate about opening up reading to everyone, and partly because they are so great to work with. Also, the books are short - mine are an average 17k words -  which makes a lovely change. 

One group of readers were quiet and thoughtful and a little reluctant to ask questions. The others were bouncy and enthusiastic, and very keen to tell me their thoughts about the premise of the book, which sprung from a conversation with my son about how much of a bribe he'd take to give up his phone (this was all theoretical, I was never actually going to come up with the money). £1,000 he said, and from this sprung an idea for a book about an entire Y11 year group challenged to ditch their mobiles by an eccentric billionaire.

In the same week I saw a poignant film -  Eighth Grade -  about an American teenager whose anxieties and insecurities are played out to the glow of her IPhone, and played out on Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. And I read a report which insisted that social media has no real effect on teenagers' happiness. The report, by Oxford University researchers 
concluded that most links between life satisfaction and social media use were "trivial", accounting for less than 1% of a teenager's wellbeing: "99.75% of a person's life satisfaction has nothing to do with their use of social media.

My second group of readers were keen to tell me what I should be writing next. " Something futuristic" said one. "Science fiction," said another.
When I talk to teenagers, I tell them about my first job in journalism when I was 18. My main job was feeding a huge fax machine -  cutting edge technology then, which I have to explain to them now. We had no computers, or even word processors. We had no mobile phones. No internet. The magic wands that are smartphones would have been things of science fiction then.

Maybe that's why I like writing contemporary teen fiction. Because observing their world, is ever more fascinating, the more technology becomes impossible to disconnect from.

The Disconnect is available from Amazon here  

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