Advice for Authors On Writing

On Writing: Adolescents with Cathy Cassidy

On Writing is back. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be bringing you some more invaluable writing tips from the DA Agency authors and the DA Children’s Book Agency authors. This series will lead us into the beginning of September, known in the publishing industry as the beginning of ‘Frankfurt Book Fair fever’.

To kick off the new series, we’re looking at writing characters who are at one of the most pivotal and life shaping stages of their lives: adolescence. A teenage character is quite often one of the hardest age groups to accurately portray or write convincingly. Nothing is more jarring, or even cringe inducing, than reading a teenage character who is evidently written by an adult (e.g.  if you’re writing dialogue that includes “far out” or “tubular” in 2019 – it’s pretty safe to say it’s not an accurate portrayal of a contemporary teenager).

To help guide us, we have the critically-acclaimed and bestselling children’s book author Cathy Cassidy. Cathy is the author of over 30 novels for children and young people, including the outstanding Chocolate Box Girls series and the Lost & Found series. She has now sold over 3 million books worldwide and has been lauded for writing ‘touching, tender and unforgettable’ characters. Her unique and distinctive voice always feels  truthful to a young person’s experience.

We asked Cathy a few questions to give us an insight into how she brings this authenticity to her writing:

Sasha's Secret - cover image - 29 05 19

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Inspiration is everywhere… things I see, hear, remember, imagine! People are a huge source of inspiration – I am a real ‘people-watcher’ – and I’m fascinated by emotions too, so there is never any shortage of ideas! My readers are constantly in touch with me and I meet them regularly at signings and events and book festivals, and sometimes readers have unwittingly inspired a story. By the time I put that spark of inspiration through the whole daydreaming, story-making process, they wouldn’t recognise that the story had any links to them at all!


How do you make your characters feel and sound authentic?

The characters are ‘real’ to me, I think that’s the key! The story unfolds in my mind in daydream form, as if it’s a movie, and as the author I get to pull the strings and direct what the characters do. They don’t always listen! I always feel that I know far more about my characters than is ever revealed in the books. I always draw the main characters, which somehow makes them come alive for me. I think if those characters are real and authentic to me, that carries over into what I write. I hope so!


What is the biggest challenge? 

Managing my time and staying disciplined… and meeting deadlines! Sometimes it can be hard to get a good balance in life, especially when life throws a few curveballs at you, but once you jump into the story it generally grabs you and pulls you right in, so then it’s just a case of sticking at it. I don’t plan on paper, so I sometimes go off at tangents… but sometimes they are the best bits!


What are things to bear in mind when writing for teens or a younger audience?

I think that for me, it’s just the way my stories come out – the ‘voice’ is not a conscious thing, it’s instinctive. I’ve written for that age group for most of my life, even before the novels… short stories for teens, work as a teen mag journalist etc., so the way I write is very much natural and ‘from the heart’. I think kids do pick up on this… if you’re not being authentic or true to yourself, they’ll spot it. I’d say it’s important not to ‘write down’ to children or young people… not to be patronising or twee… and to tackle difficult issues (if you are going to tackle them at all) with honesty, warmth and hope.


How do you keep up with relevant issues for teenagers?

I don’t think too much about it to be honest. Many of the themes are timeless, though the details may change with time… for instance, when Honey is stalked in Sweet Honey, it’s cyber stalking and that whole online safety issue and the concern of internet safety is explored. I suppose I stay pretty much up to date on what concerns my readers have because they email and message me constantly to tell me just what worries them! I think if a reader identifies strongly with a book, they then come to trust the author and perhaps confide in them. Either that, or it’s my past experience as a teen mag agony aunt coming out!


Be sure to follow @cathycassidyxx on Twitter and pick up a copy of her latest novel Sasha’s Secret (Lost & Found #3)


Agency Newsletter: June


Martina Cole – in conversation

As part of Queen of Crime Martina Cole’s anniversary year,Headline put on a very special rooftop book club event in partnership with Woman & Home.

Martina was in conversation with Fanny Blake in the rooftop garden of Headline’s stunning offices. They discussed Martina’s most recent release, Betrayal, and her glittering 25 year career. Guests were treated to funny anecdotes and had the chance to ask Martina their own brilliant questions.

From the evening, we learnt that Martina has more number one original bestsellers than any other authors, each novel outsells the last and her books are the most borrowed in prisons and most stolen in bookshops.

Arthur Pepper triumphs in France

We are delighted that The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick has scooped the prestigious Prix des Lectrices Milady 2017!

The Prix des Lectrices Milady is a readers’ choice award, launched by Éditions Milady in 2014, previous winners include Jojo Moyes but Phaedra Patrick was the clear favourite in 2017!

Congratulations Phaedra!

KL Slater’s LIAR

Hot on the heels of the publication of KL Slater’s third chilling psychological suspense, LIAR, it has shot straight in at No.5 on the UK Kindle charts. It is also a No.2 Kobo bestseller.

Her previous psychological thrillers, SAFE WITH ME and BLINK have also been Kindle and Kobo bestsellers which firmly positions Kim as a rising star in this genre.

Congratulations, Kim!

Lee Child dominates worldwide

The unstoppable Lee Child has continued his success on the UK and US bestseller charts with his short story collection, No Middle Name and the 21st Jack Reacher, Night School.

Four weeks after publication in the UK, No Middle Name is No.2 on the Sunday Times Hardback Fiction list. Night School, an incredible 10 weeks after publication, is now No.5 on the Sunday Times paperback list. Sales for Night School are up by 19% on the last Reacher.

Blatt & Rios in Argentina acquired 2 of Lee Child’s short stories meaning he will be published in South America for the first time!

Jack Ford takes on the boys

The Killing Grounds is the first book in the exciting international thriller series by Jack Ford featuring ex-US Navy-turned-investigator and high asset recovery operator, Thomas J Cooper.

For fans of Robert Ludlum’s Bourne series, Clive Cussler and Bernard Cornwell, it has already received some rave reviews Jack Ford studied global political Islam and American politics and went on to take a Master of Science degree in Counter-Terrorism. She has previously published six gritty crime novels under her real name but wanted to turn her hand to writing a thriller that brought her love of Africa and politics together. A huge fan of Lee Child and John Grisham, she also wanted to challenge herself in the male-dominated arena and does a fantastic job!

Congratulations, Jack!

Cathy Cassidy launches

Beloved author Cathy Cassidy’s latest novel, Love from Lexie, was published on 15th June and Cathy has been excitedly meeting all of her young fans up and down the country to discuss her new novel, including a mini-launch with delicious cakes in Balham.

Love from Lexie is the first in a timely and pitch-perfect new series about friendship and loyalty, following six teenagers each with a unique story to tell.




Agency Newsletter: May


You Don’t Know Me – a startling debut

A new and exciting voice in the crime and thriller world launched this month with a staggering debut novel.

Imran Mahmood’s You Don’t Know Me is a crime book with a difference: the story is told entirely in the form of a defence speech from a young black man, accused of murder. The reader becomes the jury as the unnamed defendant presents the eight pieces of evidence and only one thing matters – did he do it?

The audio book, narrated by Adam Deacon of Kidulthood, is the fastest selling audio book for Penguin Random House this year.

You Don’t Know Me has received stellar praise from many national newspapers including The Times and Imran was profiled in the Guardian. He also featured as a Simon Mayo book club selection on BBC Radio 2 and was on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4.

Lee Child’s outstanding contribution

Lee Child will be awarded the OutstandingContribution to Crime Fiction Award at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival at Harrogate this year.

Simon Theakston, who runs the award said ‘Lee is very deserving of this accolade, and will have his rightful place in a pantheon of legendary crime authors who have achieved this honour to date.’

No Middle Name, a collection of all the Reacher stories, published together for the first time, has soared into No.3 on the New York Times hardcover bestseller chart and is No.2 in the UK!

Nobody does it better.

TM Logan – Top 10 for debut

TM Logan’s gripping debut, Lies, has spent 8 weeks in the Kindle Top 10 having previously reached No.1 on iBooks and No.2 on Kindle.

This month, Charlie Spicer at St. Martin’s Press acquired North American rights, he said: ‘Like B.A. Paris’s mega bestseller Behind Closed Doors, TM Logan creates an unforgettable novel of suspense out of a chilling human dilemma: what if you learned your wife was having an affair and you believe you are being set up to take the fall for a murder?’

CWA Daggers

We are delighted to announce that three of our authors have been nominated for a CWA Dagger Award 2017.

Tana French has beennominated for the CWA Dagger in the Library, which acknowledges the author’s entire body of work. Tana’s No.2 New York Times bestseller, The Trespasser, has also been selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club 2017.

Longlisted for the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award are Tim Weaver for his outstanding 7th novel, Broken Heart, and James Carol under his pseudonym JS Carol for the exciting thriller The Killing Game.

DA Children’s Authors Win

Two of our fantastic children’s authors have scooped prizes this month.

Deirdre Sullivan’s powerful and poetic novel Needlework has won the Honor Award for Fiction at the CBI Book of the Year Awards 2017.

Caroline Crowe’s heart-warming Pirates in Pyjamas was awarded Best Picture Book at the Heart of Hawick Children’s Book Awards!

Cathy Cassidy in the US

Papercutz, the largest comic book publisher in the US, has published the first adaptation of the internationally bestselling Chocolate Book Girls series by our beloved author, Cathy Cassidy.

Sweeties, the first in a planned series, combines books 1 and 2, Cherry Crush and Marshmallow Skye.

Cathy is published in 26 languages worldwide and her sales top 3 million copies.





Agency Newsletter

Hello there!

This month our newsletter covers the all the news from the lead up to Christmas and celebrates a fantastic year for our authors.

The Bestseller lists have been rounding up the top titles of the year and we are very pleased to see both our debut and experienced authors make the cut, several times!

There are awards, milestones and exciting film news included and we look to 2017 to show you which new titles you must look out for the in coming year.

Wishing you all a restful and happy holiday. We’ll be back in 2017!

DA Agency


Darley Anderson Authors Uncategorized

What Makes Libraries Special?


Make sure you visit Polly’s blog here for the whole journey and more wonderful stories and picture like these. Polly’s second novel, Where Monsters Lie, is out 7th July 2016.


DA Children’s Agency, what makes libraries special?



Agency Newsletter


It’s time for our monthly newsletter and my word do these seem to come around fast now.

April has been a fantastic month for the agency with new faces, bestsellers and, best of all, the Bologna and London Book Fairs.

The Olympia centre was turned into Book Kingdom for three days and the buzz of excitement was electric…and exhausting!

We’ve got lots of good book news for you to read about this month just in time for the bank holiday weekend. Please do follow our Facebook and Twitter pages if you haven’t already, our authors have some fantastic (many bestselling) novels you need to know about.

Happy Friday!