Award winning author Edward Hogan turns his hand to young adult fiction for his high concept thriller set in a holiday camp
At 29, Edward Hogan won the Desmond Elliot Prize for his first novel, Blackmoor, in 2009. The story of a boy who discovers the truth behind his mother’s death in the close-knit Derbyshire mining town of Blackmoor, Hogan made a name for himself writing about his home country as seen through the eyes of a teenage outcast. His latest novel, Daylight Saving, centres on another teenage boy who once again feels on the outside of things.
Hogan’s first Young Adult novel, Daylight Saving is a coming of age tale that is equal parts ghost story and mystery. It focuses on Daniel, a troubled boy who is forced on holiday to the Leisure World Holiday Complex by his father, in an attempt to re-build their fractured relationship. Daniel hates sports and outdoor activities almost as much as he hates bonding with his Dad, and is all set to have a terrible time, but then he meets Lexi, an intriguing girl who wears a backwards ticking watch and is covered in wounds that are rapidly getting worse. As his relationship with Lexi develops, the mystery surrounding her apperance deepens and Daniel finds himself in a race against time to save her life.
Inspiration for the novel’s unique setting came from his own family holidays, but it was more a desire to shift genre, rather than age-range, that fuelled Hogan’s move to writing for teens: “I went away on similar trips and I really enjoyed them, but what I enjoyed the most was going to do usual things, like eating in Pizza Express or playing badminton, but then coming out and finding yourself in this magnificent forest, that’s big and imposing and holds a lot of mystery, and I wanted to explore that. I wanted to write something that reflected the things that I used to watch, films like E.T. and Back To The Future, high concept narrative stories."
Although Daylight Saving features some of the key teenage issues, from low-self esteem and attempts to be cool to divorcing parents and first crushes, Hogan explains that he did not have a checklist in mind. “I always write about families, it comes naturally to me as I always do it. I didn’t set out to cover specific teen issues and people always say that teenagers are trouble and always messing up, but if you look at the adults in the book, Daniel’s dad especially, he is an absolute mess and definitely hasn’t got things together.”
He adds: “It is a coming of age novel though and so I was interested in exploring all of the physical elements of that time, as it all seems to mater a great deal when you’re that age. I wanted a character that has all the usual flaws and problems and to look into the ways you can get over those. Daniel has issues that I know I had to cope with and I didn’t want it to be the story of “Mr Super Handsome”, because then it becomes more unrealistic.”
Hogan is already working on his second book for teens at the moment. “Contemporary YA fiction is filled with these fantastic narrative hooks, which is an important thing. Having taught teenagers, I know that they don’t stand for self-indulgent writing of any kind. So it’s a good approach to have for writing in general, to think about the tolerance of your readers and to make sure you keep it exciting. There are so many authors out that I really admire, who are such an inspiration, authors like Patrick Ness, Mal Peet, David Almond; amazing writers who have written these great books, which have so much going on in them, but with so little waste as they are so economical with their writing. There can be snobbery on creative writing courses about narrative books, but I think it’s probably what brings most people in to stories.”
Daylight Saving is out now, published by Walker.