Olivia Levez lives in Worcestershire, where she divides her time between teaching in a secondary school and writing. The Circus is Olivia’s second book novel, which will publish on May 4 2017. She likes yoga, dogs and hula hooping, and wondered if she could turn all three into a circus act but failed. However, you can see Olivia hulahooping as she answers questions about her book here:
She writes mainly in her caravan in West Wales and was inspired by the coast to create the desert island in her debut book, The Island.
Tell us a little about the new novel.
The Circus is the adrenalin-fuelled adventure of Willow, a spoilt rich girl who runs away from everything she has ever known to try to join the circus and reconnect with her missing mother. A frightening, exhilarating story of survival, friendship – and sawdust.
‘Dressed in Levez’ glittering prose, The Circus has the heart of a lion tamer and the thrill of a trapeze.’ Kiran Millwood Hargrave, The Girl of Ink and Stars
Where did the idea/inspiration come from?
I wanted a survival story with a powerful setting to follow on from my debut novel, The Island, which is a castaway book. I made lists of as many settings as I could think of, from castles, valleys, mountains, cities, jungles to ships and towers and underground tunnels. Nothing seemed to spark. And then I thought of the circus. I like the fact that I could write a contemporary book, but that there’s something about a circus that’s magical, dangerous and surreal which adds almost a fantasy twist. In this way the setting works very like the desert island in my first book. It also gave me the chance to go to lots of circus shows!
Tell us about you… Where and when do you write?
As well as fulfilling my dream of being an author, I’m a teacher in a big secondary school, which as you can imagine is a busy and demanding job. To find the head space to write, I have to take myself away from the real world and cocoon myself with my laptop. I do this by escaping to my caravan by the sea in West Wales – which must be the ultimate writer’s retreat. I tend to binge-write in the teacher holidays.
Does writing energise or exhaust you?
Both. At the moment I’m working on a new book idea which is really exciting. Words are just spilling out. My head’s fizzing with ideas. Each morning I wake up and whole pieces of dialogue are in my brain and I have to stumble downstairs and grab my laptop before they vanish. I wish it was always like this! At the opposite end of the scale there’s…The Wall. That’s pretty grim, especially when there’s a deadline.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
It would be: what are you waiting for, girl???!
What is the first book that made you cry?
Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse by Ursula Morray Williams. Oh, and The Last Battle – the final one in the Narnia series. That devastated me.
Finally, where can we get your book?
You can buy it after 4 May at all major bookstores. In the meantime, you can preorder it here: https://www.amazon.com/Circus-Olivia-Levez/dp/1786070944
You can also win a signed copy by taking part in my #Hulahoopchallenge on Instagram – simply post a video of yourself hulahooping whilst saying which circus act you’d most like to do!