Congratulations on having your novel published.
Where did the idea/inspiration come from?
The idea for ‘This Careless Life’ was an instantaneous dropped-into-my-head one. Many thoughts whirling round my head suddenly joined and lit up like a cartoon lightbulb.
My first two books (‘Me and Mr J’ and ‘The #1 Rule for Girls’) are very introspective: main characters examining the impact others have on their lives and working out their own problems. ‘Me and Mr J’ was an emotional book to write because the themes (family breakdown, student/teacher relationships, chronic bullying) are so difficult and/or controversial. The #1 Rule Girls is fundamentally a comedy; I needed to write something uplifting not harrowing!
During the time I was mulling over potential storylines, I’d been following the news with increasing degrees of despair: the refugee crisis, world-wide political upheaval…I realised I wanted to write something that looked outwards; a book which examined the impact our actions have on others.
‘An Inspector Calls’, a book that (as a Yorkshire girl), I’d read at an early age had a profound impact on me and is the big inspiration behind ‘This Careless Life’. I also loved ‘The Great Gatsby’ and ‘Of Mice and Men’ for their presentation of class differences. When I taught these books to college students, I found myself endlessly pointing out the resonances with modern society. ‘This Careless Life’ is the result of that.
Where and when do you write?
I write whenever I can. I go through lots of different stages. I hand -write at the very start: I like to play with different ideas and I find pen and paper helps me to think better. Then I write a very long (usually about 15,000 words) synopsis of the plot on my PC to get an overview. Then I structure the plot using tables in Word. I’ve tried Scrivener and post its and whiteboards, but it doesn’t work for me. I read everything back on my kindle- that really helps.
What are you working on now?
Right now, I’m working on a novel for adults because I had an idea that I really liked. I’m enjoying the change from YA, but that doesn’t mean I won’t go back to it.
Does writing energise or exhaust you?
Writing exhausts me and energises me, depending on how it’ going! Sometimes I find it stressful, particularly close to deadlines. I like the very last editing stage best, when you can add layers of texture and detail. I scrapped 58,000 words earlier this year because I wasn’t happy with the ms and that was quite depressing. But it taught me a valuable lesson: I need to be completely fired up at the planning stage or it will be one big slog all the way through.
What is the first book that made you cry?
So many books make me cry. I get upset quite easily. ‘A Farewell to Arms’ had me in floods of tears. Normally, I’m not a huge Hemingway fan, but I found that really moving. ‘Goodnight Mr Tom’ and ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ both really upset me. I can’t read books involving children being hurt or injured nowadays, I know I’ll get too upset. Recently, ‘The Light Between Oceans’ had me in tears. I thought it was great.
Finally, where can we get your book?
You can buy my books in the usual places and ‘This Careless Life’ is out in June 2017.
Thank you for having me on the blog.