Promoting his new YA title, Release, Patrick Ness made it to Edinburgh International Book Festival to discuss not writing chosen kid narratives, mental health and a refreshing approach to writing for teenagers. The highly acclaimed and award-winning author spoke at the book festival to an audience of fans allowing them to engage with him on a Q&A level and get a better sense of this new title.
Heavily influenced by Mrs Dalloway, as it starts and ends the same with the buying of flowers and the party, but with a touch of Judy Blume’s Forever about it, there’s a certain amount of explicit within this new novel. Release is one day in the life of Adam Thorn, an intense, weird day where things go wrong, turning out to be the most unsettling, difficult day of his life. It’s a day of confrontation, running, sex, love, heartbreak, and perhaps in between all of that a shed of optimism.
Patrick Ness uses his platform here to voice his truth to his fans, “someone else’s opinion of you does not have to deform or shape you,” getting them to engage with and accept who they are whether they are the ‘chosen kid’ or one of our more bog-standard teenagers, who are just about coping with hormones and getting through a tough few years, whilst finding their feet. There’s something real about creating characters that are not necessarily saving the day, or fighting evil. Those that are simply living and surviving should also be allocated the ink space.
He admits that having anxiety issues that there are many analytical questions that people ask themselves and he throws this one out there to the audience, “what if your friends like you because you are likeable?” There is no wrong this writer can do, so it seems as he tries to connect with his readers and allow them to engage and relate to his writing. It is not short of refreshing, at least. He also suggests that for budding writers in the audience not to ask permission for writing something, as this negates the existence of their work. There is a real sense of someone taking the step beyond a writer here, actually advocating that teenagers, children, adults all justify their existence by simply existing, writing, and reading. However great it is to have several awards under your belt, your books adapted into films and all the rest of his great achievements he is keen to spread the word that we are living beings that don’t need to fight the evil out there or have that special power. We cannot all be like Patrick Ness.