My inspiration: Tess Sharpe on Malinda Lo

I measure my life in books: the ones that changed me, the ones that saved me, and the ones that gave me hope.

As a little girl, that hope was more about wishing I could bend the laws of reality to get to Oz or Tortall or Narnia. But as I grew up and realised I wanted to be a writer, I began to search harder for books like the ones I wanted to write: love stories, some doomed, some not. Love stories about girls who loved other girls. Love stories about girls who loved boys and girls. Love stories like the books the straight kids had and took for granted.

So much of our lives is dedicated to the pursuit of love; of finding something special and lasting and ours. Every teen of every kind deserves to see their type of love story reflected in literature – and too many never find that.

My search took years. I was a teenager when LGBTQA YA was just starting to take off, so many of the books I found were more about coming out than falling in love. I discovered beautiful books, important books, books I took strength from, books that built the brave and fearless foundation we so desperately needed. But I didn't find exactly what I was looking for until I read Ash by Malinda Lo.

In this lesbian retelling of Cinderella, we follow Ash, a young woman who falls in love with the King's huntress instead of a prince. With beautiful, lyrical writing and a main character whose strength and capacity for love fueled my hope, I look back on this book as the one that kept me going, kept me dedicated to imagining the love stories I wanted to tell.

My inspiration: Tess Sharpe on Malinda Lo- Top Financial
Malinda Lo, Ash

My hope sustained me through four more years and two failed manuscripts, until one day I jotted down a paragraph about kissing a boy while remembering kissing his sister – and the love story that would change my life began to unfold on the page.

Malinda had given me the gift of possibility: proof that a girl/girl love story could be published and taken seriously. Ash was something that I could hold in my hands and in my heart, allowing myself to dream.

After all, that's what the best love stories do.

Read the first chapter of Tess Sharpe's Far From You, our latest Teen book club read, here.

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