Patrice Lawrence discusses writing and representation

In the lead up to World Book Day, years 7-10 enjoyed a live online presentation and Q&A session with award-winning YA author Patrice Lawrence, with selected students also participating in writing workshops inventing a character with clues to a mystery disappearance.

Giving a summary of the books she has written, Patrice explained why writing for teens is so important to her, in particular providing representation for and giving a voice to characters she couldn’t find in books as a child herself.

She finds writing about the London not usually seen in films to be really interesting, as well as thinking about the aftermath of crimes, and uses her life experiences and influences to inspire stories dealing with issues common to many teenagers.

Patrice spoke openly about her upbringing as the child of unmarried parents, fostered until the age of four so her Trinidadian-born mother could complete her nursing training, and then living with her mum, Italian stepdad and two much younger half-brothers – a family setup often questioned by others and rarely seen in books.

As a child, Patrice was an avid reader but found the books available all told her that people like her didn’t belong in them. She kept a detailed teenage diary, some of which she shared with students, and, encouraged to write by an English teacher, she wrote and illustrated stories for her little brothers so they could see themselves in what they read.

Patrice thought it wouldn’t be unusual bringing up her own mixed race daughter in Hackney but they still got questions about their background and relationship. Not thinking it would be possible to become a writer, it wasn’t until she found a baby’s board book with a black character on the cover and saw a television adaptation of Malorie Blackman’s Pig Heart Boy, that Patrice realised it was possible for books about black families to get published.

Her first YA book Orangeboy was published in 2016, won both the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for Older Children and the YA Book Award in 2017.

Patrice’s newest book Splinters of Sunshine is due for publication in August this year.

Find out more about Patrice – books with signed bookplates are available to order from Tales on Moon Lane.

 

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Mini Literary & Careers FEST 2021