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- author Jackie French

Friday 19 July 2019

Guest Post: Taryn Bashford: Life Begins At The End of Your Comfort Zone

Taryn loves to write about elite teens, focusing on how they may excel at one side of their life, but socially and emotionally, they’re fairly flawed. While her first book The Harper Effect explored the world of professional tennis, The Astrid Notes delves into the world of elite teen musicians. 

Here’s what she has to say about why she writes these sorts of books.

I recently had a chat with a writer friend about why I cannot read crime fiction. The friend explained that he writes crime because he likes to explore the darker side of human nature.

That’s when I had a lightbulb moment. 
I prefer to pretend that humanity does not have a darker side – I only want to explore the good, the inspiring, the lighter side of human nature. 

This clarifies why I write the books that I write: I want to inspire, give hope, lend a helping hand at the difficult coming-of-age stage of life, and encourage readers to dream big.

Anyone who knows me will say I’m a ‘glass is half full’ type of gal, but what they don’t know is that as a teenager I was an aspiring Olympic athlete and a hopeful concert pianist (and I wanted to be a novelist on the side). This illustrates my optimistic nature – why can’t I have all three careers? – but it’s also a source of ideas for my books.

One of the big issues a teenager faces is peer-pressure and the need to be accepted. I was never that cool teenager. Faced with the fact that classical music was not cool, I had to decide what type of music I would play. This is the dilemma that Jacob faces in The Astrid Notes – his love is indie pop, but without giving away any spoilers, he’s suddenly unable to be part of his band. That’s when Astrid helps him discover that sometimes there’s a difference ‘between the music you’re mad about and the music your voice was meant to sing.

I believe it’s very important to write stories of hope, stories that inspire teens to go after their dreams. Whether it’s because of a new style of parenting or a more dangerous world, teachers and librarians tell me we live in a world where fear of failure has numbed teens into not trying at all. They’re afraid to follow their dreams and don’t realise that life begins at the end of their comfort zone.

I sincerely intend that both my novels inspire teens to do what they love and to never quit. There’s a reason why we all love TV series like The X Factor, or why we watch movies like The Karate Kid, Eddie the Eagle and Soul Surfer. We want to be inspired, we love to see others grab hold of their dreams, we live vicariously through their joy. But what my writing tries to show is that their joy can be your joy too.

Having met many gifted teens, it’s inspiring to know that they are not born superheros. They have no special superpowers. They are ordinary teens who worry about their weight and pimples. They have boyfriend and friendship issues. They argue with their parents. They struggle at school. They seek to fit in with their peers. The only difference is that they choose to never give up what they love doing, be that sport or music, art or cooking ... that’s what makes them elite. And if that’s the case, then everyone can be elite at something.

Taryn Bashford’s YA novel The Astrid Notes is due out next Tuesday, 23 July.

Follow Taryn via her social media channels: website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram