A rapper has rapped about my book. How many authors can say that?

A rather incredible thing just happened.

Kloud 9 Reacher, UK rapper and performing artist, just performed a freestyle rap in tribute to my latest novel, Feral Youth, on Spit It Out TV:

Production: OfTheRedProductions

This is incredible for two reasons: (1) because I am really, really not ‘street’ enough to be having rap songs written in my honour and (2) because it is a truly excellent song, worthy of Plan B or better. Kloud 9 Reacher has read the book, taken the themes, used one of the characters (a rapper called Ash) and given him a voice – a voice exactly as I imagined when I wrote the book.

This comes in a week when I’ve had confirmation that the Feral Youth audiobook will be out any minute, there’s interest in ‘Feral Youth the movie‘ and the Feral Youth app is in development, bringing the book to life with interactive audio and visuals.

It feels as though Feral Youth is growing into something much more than a book. I am very, very excited…

“Alesha’s is the voice of a barely literate teenager, reaching out to us from a world we’d prefer to pretend doesn’t exist.” – Catriona Troth

“The truth is, it ain’t just a race thing. They talk like it is, but really and truly it’s black against white, young against old, authorities against the rest… There’s bare reasons for feeling vexed right now.”

I have just finished reading Polly Courtney’s remarkable new book, Feral Youth.

Feral Youth is story of Alesha – a fifteen year old from Peckham in South London. At the start of the book, Alesha is living under the radar, dodging social services, gang violence and her alcoholic mother. But she has a roof over her head, a friend she owes everything to, a youth centre that provides an occasional refuge, and a ‘rep’ that provides some flimsy protection on the streets.

Feral Youth

Feral Youth

In the course of a few short weeks over the summer of 2011, even those are taken away. No wonder Alesha’s angry. Angry enough that when messages start crowding onto her phone, telling her riots are kicking off all over south London, she is ready to take revenge on the whole self-satisfied world she sees around her.

Only, it’s beginning to look as if the one person she can really trust isn’t from the streets at all. She’s Alesha’s eccentric former music teacher, Miss Merfield – and she’s trying to tell Alesha there’s another way out.

Courtney has broken some taboos in writing this book. First of all – as many people already know – she is the self-published writer who gained a coveted traditional publishing deal, only to ditch it when she realised she was being shoe-horned into writing books she didn’t really want to write.

To cap that, she has written the book her agent told her not to, the one that was too ‘niche’. (“How niche are young people?” Courtney demands at the launch.)

Finally, she is a young, white, middle-class woman, writing in the voice of a homeless, mixed-race teenager from South London. “You can’t possibly be authentic,” she was told, when she mooted the idea.

Polly Courtney at the launch of Feral Youth

Polly Courtney at the launch of Feral Youth

Courtney refused to be put off. Motivated by her own anger at the ill-informed responses to the 2011 riots in British cities, she spent time with girls from Westwood College in Croydon, learning from their point of view what it was like to be a teenage in South London today, how they saw the riots and the reasons behind them – and most of all, listening to their voices and learning how they spoke to one another.

When the riots kicked off in August 2011, I was away on an oh-so-middle-class family holiday in Cornwall. I looked on from a distance, seeing events unfold on television, reading about then in the newspapers. What I struck me in those first few days was the way commentators were contrasting the supposed ‘mindlessness’ and ‘criminality’ of the 2011 rioters with what they now chose to cast as the ‘legitimate beefs’ of 1981 Brixton rioters.

What? Did no one remember the initial response to the Brixton riots – before the Scarman Report shed a chink of light on the causes? Did no one remember Thatcher saying: “No one should condone violence. No one should condone the events … They were criminal, criminal.”

And did no one think, even for a moment…

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW ON AUTHOR CATRIONA TROTH’S WEBSITE

FERAL YOUTH: Book launch!

We are excited to announce the launch of Polly Courtney’s sixth novel

 FERALYOUTH

Wednesday 26th June

Drinks & canapes 6.30pm
Speeches 7.45pm
Book signings 8.15
After-party: midnight

01

“A UNIQUE STORY”– PATRICK REGAN OBE, XLP

“THIS IS NOT JUST A STORY… THIS IS MANY CHILDREN’S REALITY”– GRACIA MCGRATH OBE

“IF YOU WANT TO UNDERSTAND WHY SO MANY YOUNG PEOPLE TOOK TO THE STREETS TWO SUMMERS AGO, READ THIS BOOK.” – SONYA THOMAS, READING THE RIOTS

Can Alesha see a way out?

And as riots sweep the nation, whose side will she take?

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For more information or to request an invitation, please email info@pollycourtney.com

“A dark, thrilling read -not your average slice of chick-lit.” – Closer magazine

Praise for The Day I Died

The Day I Died“A dark, thrilling read -not your average slice of chick-lit.” – Closer magazine

“I think a lot of people at one time or another in their lives wish that they could start all over again. I found this book to be well written, interesting and the characters very realistic.” – Chronicle

“An intriguing and incredible story that really makes you think…” – BBC Radio Shropshire

“The thing I can’t get out of my head is what if? Could it really happen? I actually think it could….” – SJW

“A fascinating read.” – BBC Radio Kent