year’s shortlisted novels include a Regency romp, boy bands, heart transplants
and rock stars.

Love Song by Sophia Bennett tells
the story of seventeen-year-old Nina who goes on tour with mega-band The Point and
quickly learns how dysfunctional they are behind the scenes. Cut off from the
world, recording in a huge, shabby house in Northumberland, she comes to know
and understand them. Trouble is, they come to understand her…
commented on the boy band in Sophia’s story and the strong character of Nina,
the heroine; we asked her where the idea for the story came from:
I’ve always been a
not-so-secret fan of One Direction, and particularly Harry Styles. As I watched
the boys relentlessly touring I became convinced their lifestyle must be taking
its toll on their lives and friendships and wondered what it must be like
behind the scenes. So I found myself writing about a girl who gets to be a part
of it.
As I travel to a lot of schools
to talk about my writing, I get to meet teenage girls all the time and am
struck by how vulnerable they can be under their confident exterior, and how
often their interests – pop music, fashion – are disparaged. So I wanted Love Song to be a celebration of the joy
of fandom, and the pleasure we can all get from loving music.
Natasha Farrant’s Lydia: The
Wild Girl of Pride and Prejudice
is a feminist Regency romp, which takes a fresh
look at Austen’s much-loved Pride and
, focusing on the ambitions and aspirations of the youngest, and
wildest, of the Bennet sisters.
have been several rewritings of Austen; we asked Natasha what drew her to
Lydia’s character:
Lydia was a
suggestion from my publishers, which I accepted because I thought it would be
fun. And it was. I spent a happy year
immersed in all things Austen, and had the most fun I have ever had writing any
book, ever. But it also surprised me,
because as soon as I started to plan her story, Lydia’s voice took complete
hold of me. Even though she did not start life as my creation, I felt a
connection with her that I have never had with any other character I have
written. At first I attributed it to the genius of Austen. Quite soon I
realised something quite different: in writing Lydia, I was writing myself.
Lydia is me as a teenager – a funny
mixture of awkward and confident, passionate and selfish, longing to be in love
and desperate for “real life” to start. I didn’t like myself much as a
teenager, but I love her – all the
more so because she has made me realise that maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t as bad
as I have always thought.  It ended up
being the most cathartic of books, a happy experience but also one which left
me somewhat dazed for months, like I’d been taken over by a whirlwind.
New England Dreams by Pia Fenton tells
the story of Sienna
who takes time out from family problems in the UK and ends up kissing a guy she
meets on a flight to the US. She doubts she’ll ever see him again but fate has
other ideas. When they end up attending the same school, neither admits to
having met before. The chemistry is still there though – should they let it
have free rein or should the attraction stay in their dreams?
We asked Pia how she
manages to capture the American high school setting so well:
stories are all based on memories from my own teenage years – I attended an
American high school in Tokyo, Japan, (ASIJ) where I had a fantastic time.  Those years were some of the best in my life
and a high-school reunion brought it all back. 
That’s when I began to write YA and it’s such fun!
Instructions for a Second Hand Heart by
Tamsyn Murray
, Jonny needs a
new heart and his time is running out. Niamh has just lost her twin brother in
a tragic accident. As Jonny gets better, he becomes obsessed with the first
owner of his heart and meets a grieving Niamh. Neither of them expects to fall
in love…
The subject matter of this book
was an emotive one but sensitively dealt with, we asked Tamsyn what inspired
her to write the book:
novel was inspired by a link Jojo Moyes shared on Facebook back in September
2012, to a blog by a mother who had just donated her own son’s organs after a
tragic accident. The comfort that mother felt from knowing her son’s heart was
out there somewhere, still beating, never left me – I’ve been on the organ
donor register since I was sixteen and I knew right away that I wanted to write
a story inspired by the blog I’d read. It is the hardest book I have ever
written and I cried so many tears as I wrote – for the children I learned about
during my research as well as for my own characters – but four years later,
here it is and I am incredibly proud to have written it.
Paige Toon’s All About the Hype focuses
on Jessie Jefferson getting used to being the daughter of one of the world’s
most famous rock­ stars. With her own music career on the rise and a gorgeous
love interest, Jessie’s glamorous LA life couldn’t get any better…  But things are about to get really com­plicated.
Is her celebrity status all it’s cracked up to be?
We asked Paige what stirred her to write Jessie’s story:
I was inspired during my time at Heat by real-life rock
stars who have children with multiple women. What must it be like for these
kids, who don’t have much of a relationship with their dad – or even their
half-siblings? What must it be like to barely know more about their famous dad
than the rest of the population? I found the idea of forming a relationship
with a famous parent at a later stage in life interesting, and that’s the
direction I took when writing about fifteen-year-old Jessie.


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