Katarzyna Barlinska published her first novel right after high school graduation. When a teenager publishes a book, in many cases she has to face indulgent comments like “For a teenager, the novel is very good” or “The novel is admittedly not good, but what to expect from such a young author?”. Additionally, the situation is complicated by the fact that digital printing technology makes it profitable to publish small editions, which means that a literary debut today is no longer what it was decades ago. Many parents are able to cover all the costs associated with publication in order to create their child into a young literary star. Catherine Barlinskaya doesn’t want or need to pretend anything. She is now 21 years old, and her books are not going off the bestseller lists.

Katarzyna Barlinska – who is the author from Wattpad, whose books have been loved by thousands of teenagers?

The young author’s popularity was helped by the Internet and, more specifically, the Wattpad platform – a service that allows amateur writers to share their work with readers. Although most of the texts posted here are not technically polished, you can also find real gems. The biggest advantage of this and similar platforms, however, is the live contact between authors and audiences. Individual texts are commented on in real time after publication, and lively discussions often ensue. Entire communities of engaged readers form around the most popular stories – something that many published on paper, often even experienced and acclaimed authors, can only dream of.

Catherine Barlinskaya began publishing her texts on Wattpad when she was just fifteen years old. She registered on the site under the nickname Pizgacz – a nickname her brother gave her as a child. It was here that Barlinskaya’s first two novels debuted – originally under the titles “Girls love bad boys” and “We found happiness.” She learns that the number of views of her story has exceeded 100,000 views during a geography lesson. Soon after, her profile on Wattpad starts to be followed by 115,000 fans – a result that no other author from Poland has managed to achieve so far.

Katarzyna Barlinska author of the book
Katarzyna Barlinska at the Poznan Book Fair 2022 author photo: Margoz

Since then, developments have accelerated rapidly: the publishing house Editio Red offers to publish the book, copies disappear from bookstore shelves like hotcakes, crowds appear at author meetings. After the first volume published under the title: “Start a fire. Round One.” The following are published: “Start a fire. Round two“, “Burn the Hell. Round three” i “Burn the Hell. Round four“. Due to its volume, the entire series is planned for six volumes.

Hell cycle – a story about toxic relationships

What is behind this phenomenon? What are Barlinskaya’s books about? The Hell series, which has already published four installments, primarily deals with the theme of toxic love. Although similar themes appear in many novels, the author is distinguished by her keen awareness when writing about emotions. She has managed to create very distinctive, memorable characters who are torn by strong passions: Victoria Joseline Clark is a quiet student at a reputable high school in the American town of Culver City, California. Her life is turned upside down when the girl meets the blasé Nathaniel Shey – a favorite of illegal boxing duels.

Catherine Barlinska bestseller
Katarzyna Barlinska – Hell series. Source: publisher. Editio.co.uk

Katarzyna Barlinska consciously addresses her work to her peers. It can be categorized as part of the Young Adult (YA) trend – that is, novels aimed at young adults. Although some people treat the term Young Adult as synonymous with youth literature, there are actually some differences. While books for younger teens tend to be written in simpler language and are not expected to contain inappropriate content, YA books often deal with more difficult and controversial topics, feature bold descriptions and blunt vocabulary.

Although more seasoned readers may turn their noses up at Barlinskaya’s style, complain about a lack of discovery or the use of trite schemes, the Pizgachitas (as the author’s fans call themselves) don’t mind. Readers of the series most often expect from literature not an artistic form, but an engaging story, authenticity and emotions with which they can identify.

No to infantilization of the younger generation

Despite her sudden popularity, Katherine Barlinskaya’s soda water has not gone to her head. She remains the same Kaśka who, with headphones on her ears, ran away from class to wander around the park. After passing her high school diploma, she entered college: journalism and social communication at the University of Wroclaw, but decided to drop out to devote her full attention to writing. She doesn’t like to be asked about personal matters, preferring to talk about her work.

She strongly opposes the infantilization and stereotypical perception of her generation by her elders. He stresses that young people like and want to read books – though not necessarily items from the canon chosen for them by their elders. They are looking for their own voice.

Read also: Top 10 books to read in autumn


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