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Martyn Bedford is Back at it Again

Making a return to FLY for the first time since 2013, Bedford gave us the pleasure of a hilarious talk, an innovative workshop and an all exclusive interview. Today, he’s discussing his work and how readers can get involved in a writing career.

When writing a book, ‘there is no magic formula.’ However, this could be exactly what makes writing such a unique and personal experience.

To Bedford, his characters drive the narrative; strong characterisation is vital. Even when writing for young people, Bedford says that a piece of his own personality belongs to every character he creates.

These similarities ‘depart through experiences,’ which shape and change his characters. For example, his first novel for young people Flip is driven by the theme of identity, based off of his own experiences of teenage jealousy of a friend. While Bedford shares aspects of his personality with the character Alex, their similarities are not completely the same due to Bedford having never woken up inside someone else’s body (or so we assume).

All the same, imaginative and strong characterisation creates strong novels. In his most recent novel 20 Questions for Gloria, Bedford writes in first person as a 15 year old girl, giving the reader a narrative strongly influenced by her view.

 Ambitious young writers may want to consider the use of first and third person narratives. First person narratives can give us a character’s viewpoint, but can be restricting. On the contrary, third person narratives are more objective. Bedford describes that his work is split 50/50 between the two styles, depending on the story’s individual needs.

Like a good musician has a love of music, a good writer has a love of books. Martyn Bedford tells us how he has never known a good author to not love reading. We can always learn from books –and from each other! Bedford describes how even surrounding yourself with ‘kindred spirits’ who are as passionate as you will help you on your journey.

In Bedford’s own career, he made the transition from non-fiction journalism to fictional novel writing after taking a Master’s degree in Creative Writing at the UEA (University of East Anglia). He tells us that there never truly was a ‘transition,’ but that he had always been writing creatively alongside his job, until a publisher discovered his work.

One of the most important things to do as a writer is to make your work the best it can be, rather than worry about publishers. That way, you can create top standard writing, and are in a far better position to pursue a career.

This visit to FLY is Bedford’s first since 2013. His fond memories of Norwich and his passion for writing have ensured that he enjoyed his visit, having a busy morning with us all at FLY.

Currently, Bedford is writing a new Young person’s novel, being 50,000 words into his first draft. We will be keeping our eyes peeled for more of his excellent work.

-Cathy Sole