Patrick Ness at the Edinburgh Book Festival

More than just young adult fiction

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This article is from 2013.

Patrick Ness at the Edinburgh Book Festival

In an interview last year, Patrick Ness spoke of the way his stories direct him rather than the other way round. Admitting that he never set out to write young adult fiction, Ness allows the ideas to suggest which direction his stories should go in. This strategy has certainly served him well. The UK-based, US-born writer (he now holds dual citizenship) has won acclaim and awards for novels such as The Knife of Never Letting Go and A Monster Calls, while his latest, The Crane Wife (Ness’ first book in a decade to be aimed specifically at an adult audience, however it may have started life), has been a soaraway success.

But how does he adjust to writing for different age ranges? ‘I don’t actually see a distinction,’ he insists. ‘The story needs to be what it is, and my job is to find that. It’s the same effort and investment for both.’ The Crane Wife is the beautifully-told story of a decent man called George, who is visited in his garden one night by a magical white bird with an injured wing. The next day, a mysterious woman called Kumiko walks into George’s print shop; he is fascinated by the delicate artworks she has crafted out of feathers and the pair start up a relationship.

Having been a published writer for a decade, Ness can now reflect on the progression he has made as an author. ‘The main change is probably just confidence with a small c and boldness with a small b. It’s what I want in a writer when I read, so it’s what I try to do for my readers. Make them feel they can trust where I’m going to take them. No one wants to read an apologetic book.’

Charlotte Square Gardens, 0845 373 5888, 10 Aug, 10.15am, £10 (£8).

This article is from 2013.

Patrick Ness

Patrick Ness is the greatest young adult fiction writer of his generation; now he’s written a stunning novel for adults. The Crane Wife, inspired both by an old Japanese fable and the songs of US folk band The Decemberists, is hauntingly simple and deliciously surreal. Ness was also a star of last year’s Writers…

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