After many years writing novels for adult readers, I had an idea for a story which seemed more suited to a teenage audience. It opened with a newspaper delivery boy seeing a ghostly face at the window of an apparently deserted house. Its title, unsurprisingly, was The Face at the Window. I never wrote that novel, because I realised not too far into a first draft, that the rest of the story was rubbish.
So I wrote Flip instead.
This began with a fairly simplistic idea about swapped identities, two look-alike boys agreeing to switch lives and impersonate one another. From that rather unoriginal starting point, the somewhat different plot evolved that eventually became Flip.
As a teenager, I didn’t much like myself. I often wondered what it would be like to be someone else. Someone better looking, more popular, more athletic, more successful with girls. Someone who didn’t have asthma. Real life never made that possible so I created Alex and let it happen to him.
Anyway, here’s some information about my novels for teenagers, or what publishers generally refer to as the 12+ or teen/YA (young adult) market…
One morning 14-year-old Alex wakes up to find himself in the wrong bedroom, in an unfamiliar house, in a different part of the country. Six months have disappeared overnight. The family at the breakfast table are total strangers.
And when he looks in the mirror, another boy’s face stares back. A boy named Flip.
With no idea what has happened, or how to switch back again, or who “he” is anymore, Alex finds himself in a deadly race against time to save himself from being trapped forever in the wrong life.
Praise for Flip:
Bedford’s taut style and psychological insight make Flip a gripping thriller. (Amanda Craig, The Times)
A serious contemplation on what constitutes the soul.
(Dinah Hall, Sunday Telegraph)
Flip swept us all along. Thanks to Martyn Bedford’s masterly balance of tension and wit, this unique fusion of the surreal and the everyday proved utterly convincing. (Judges’ shortlist citation, Costa Children’s Book Award)
Martyn Bedford has done something all of us are aiming for. He has taken a prodigious inventiveness and applied it to a timeless and heartfelt adolescent search for self. Readers will thrill to getting lost and found with Flip. (Chris Lynch, author of Who the Man, Inexcusable and Freewill)
Flip is an amazing book. The plot is thrilling and the characters are superb. I absolutely adored this book . . . a must read. (The Guardian online edition)
Flip is a funny, creative and amazing read. (Live magazine, 5-star review)
Readers will be catapulted headfirst into Alex’s strange new world. What is a soul? Where does it go when its human host ceases to function? Bedford adeptly sweeps the existential curtain aside and tackles these heavy questions as the tension soars. (starred review, kirkusreviews.com)
A moving tale that juggles realistic high school fiction with fantasy while deftly avoiding cliches from both genres. Bedford does an excellent job of getting into the mind of a teenager . . . engrossing. (Publishers Weekly, U.S.)
An enthralling novel . . . an enticing mystery. (Gold Coast Bulletin, Australia)
Flip is captivating from beginning to end, with rich characters and a fascinating mystery. The story is also superbly written and brings out many themes that will leave you pondering when you’re done. Highly recommended. (James Dashner, author of The Maze Runner)
This is a compelling read . . . there are moments of pure comedy, romance and sadness, frustration and poignancy. It is a book that would open the mind of any questioning young reader to explore who they really are. (Judy Deacon, Inis magazine, Dublin)
If you think a novel about a teenager trapped in another teen’s body can only be run-of-the-mill stuff with nowhere new to go, Flip will knock you sideways. This debut young adults’ novel by Martyn Bedford is a brilliant, totally gripping psychological thriller that is impossible to put down. (John Millen, South China Morning Post, Hong Kong.)
The set-up is a very familiar scenario for sf/fantasy readers but Bedford handles it in such a way that it feels like we’re visiting it for the first time. Highly recommended. (Charles de Lint, Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine, U.S.)
A convincing school story as well as an intelligent, probing character study. Bedford pushes readers to query, ever more rigorously, the meaning of identity and adaptation. (Toronto Star, Canada)
Flip is also published in Canada (by Doubleday), and in translation in Italy (Mondadori), Germany (DTV), the Netherlands (Gottmer), Thailand (Tawansong), Russia (Kariera Press) and China (Global Kids Books), along with audiobook editions in the UK (AudioGo) and the U.S. (Brilliance).
Awards . . .
As well as being a Red House Children’s Book Award Pick of the Year title, Flip has won or been in contention for 14 prizes in the UK:
Won: Sheffield Children’s Book Award; Calderdale Book of the Year; Bay Book Award; Immanuel College Book Award.
Shortlisted: Costa Children’s Book Award; Angus Book Award; Coventry Inspiration Young People’s Book Awards; Essex Book Award; Hull Book Awards; Leeds Book Awards; The Big Sandwell Read.
Longlisted: Carnegie Medal; Branford Boase Award; UKLA Children’s Book Award.
Flip has also won several nominations in the U.S.:
Junior Library Guild Selection.
School Library Journal – Best Books of 2011.
Young Adult Library Services Association – Readers’ Choice Nomination.
American Library Association – 2012 Quick Picks list.
Bank Street College, New York – 2012 Best Children’s Books of the Year.
International Reading Association – Young Adult Reading List 2012.
Texas Library Association – Texas High School Reading List 2012-13.
Arkansas Teen Book Award 2013 – nominated.
Isinglass Teen Read Award (New Hampshire) 2012-13 – nominated.
And there’s another novel on the way…
UK: Walker Books (January 2014)
U.S.: Wendy Lamb Books – Random House (January 2014)
Canada: Doubleday – Random House (date tbc)
When a family holiday ends in tragedy, the grieving parents’ marriage is left in ruins and, Shiv, their 15-year-old daughter, is tormented by what happened … and her part in it. Off the rails and unable to live with her guilt, Shiv is sent away to an exclusive clinic that claims to “cure” people like her.
But this is no ordinary psychiatric institution and Shiv discovers that her release – from her demons, and from the clinic itself – will come, if it comes at all, at a bizarre and terrible price.
Note: for my teenage/young adult novels, I am represented by Stephanie Thwaites at the Curtis Brown literary agency in London.