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Voices on trains

Haven’t been listening to music to and from work recently — really have to rectify that by sorting out my mp3 player situation — but instead I’ve been reading a lot, and sometimes ending up listening to other people. Eavesdropping, I know … but sometimes it’s just impossible to avoid.

So I’m reading Scott Westerfeld’s “So Yesterday”, which is all about hip teenagers in New York, so I’m thinking youthful, YA fiction, then I notice this girl right behind me. Can’t see her, but she’s chatting away loudly on her phone to a friend — only it’s not vapid teenspeak at all. She’s creative, artistic, talking about photography, design, acting.

I’m reading a book and thinking about the teenage scenes, teen and YA audiences, and I can’t help but hear this girl’s conversation. Eventually I worked out she was still in high school, but in her late teens. She’s dropping in various website references, like Deviant Art,, talking about her blog, about MSN Messenger … and I do know exactly what she’s talking about at every point. She’s an absolute creative digital native, but at least I could follow all the references, which is something.

It occurred to me that I don’t really think I’m a digital native, as experienced as I am. I’m more of a seasoned guide, someone who knows the territory despite being an outsider. It’s these kids who have literally spent their whole lives online that are the natives. It’s fascinating to think about …

Well, there was nothing really odd about this girl of course… though I think I was thinking “this is literally a character in the book I should be writing”, or maybe a character is something Scott Westerfeld already wrote? It was truly research, with the tiniest pang of “if I was in high school I’d be totally in love with this girl”. Had to admit that 🙂

So, what can I say… I eavesdrop on conversations far too often 🙂 It’s a writers thing I think … you listen to peoople talking whether you (or they) like it or not. It’s all about the stories you tell, based on the stories you hear other people tell.

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