Earlier this week, I was kindly offered to take part in a Q & A session, run by Fraser from Feed my Reads. I had some interesting questions, and I really did have to think hard about the answers for some. I hope you enjoy reading my answers:
- How did you get in the mindset to write Malcolm, he’s so much older than you!
What a great question! One I’ve been asked during my time on radio and the library talks I’ve done too. I understand readers questioning the character as soon as they realise that I’m in my twenties, for surely only someone of Malcolm’s age can really connect and portray him authentically.
Well, what Malcolm really represents isn’t age as such, but rather grief. And everybody of any age has experienced some form of grief. And yes, it is true that everybody handles grief in their own way, but it wasn’t hard for Malcolm to take over. When I started to remember the grief I’ve experienced, the writing just took on a life of its own. I did have to edit bits, cut bits out, but his thoughts really had to be middle class. I always have a dictionary and thesaurus to hand whilst I’m writing, and using archaic turn of phrase and seldom used vocab was actually really interesting. Malcolm may be just a character I made up, but he is human in every way.
- What’s your favourite Pokemon?
He he. I grew up playing Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! with my brother, and I’m a sucker for a good Pokemon game. There are so many Pokemon now, I certainly haven’t caught them all! But my all-time favourite has to be Psyduck. My favourite type is water, and I love how he has access to many psychic type moves too, which makes him a must in my party. There’s just no way I’d allow him to evolve into Golduck. No way!
- Would you ever write a book in which the characters were animals, like Watership Down?
I would never say never, but I don’t have one in mind at the moment. I haven’t actually read Watership Down myself; I really need to don’t I? I did love Animals of Farthing Wood and Noah’s Island though – if anyone knows where I can get the DVDs then please tell me! Of course, they’d be for my daughter 😉
The first book series I ever wrote began with Animals Hide and Seek which included pictures and flaps. They were for my baby sister. I still have them in fact, I’ll have to take a picture and show you all … if you promise not to laugh. I was only 8!
I do have a book planned, but it is still in its early stages just yet. The main character does have a pet, and she doesn’t go anywhere without him. It’s about a shaman’s daughter, who is being haunted my black shadows. If you pester me enough, I’ll let you in on what animal it is!
- Apart from greek mythology, which I know fascinates you, what other mythologies do you enjoy?
I studied Classical Civilisation for A-Level, which covered both Greek and Roman history, literature and mythology, but I did my own research when I was younger. I fell in love with Egyptian Mythology whilst I was in primary school – I can even read and write in Egyptian Hieroglyphs, thanks to How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs by Mark Collier and Bill Manley. I find Egyptology as a whole so mystical and bewitching, and I’d love to go back in time and see, smell and experience everything that world had to offer. Their world was so complex, and it wasn’t all pyramids and mummies – there are a lot of darker, more cryptic stories on offer if you are willing to delve deeper. You should see my bedroom walls! They are covered in replica papyri and even a canvas with a scene out of the Book of the Dead.
If people have been following my reviews, then you’ll know I am in love with Danielle Trussoni’s Angelology series, which follows and discusses Christian mythology. If you put the whole religious aspect to one side, the actually hierarchy and history with the angels is mesmerising. If you want to try something a little different, then definitely give her stories a go.
- Which is your favourite of the books you’ve written? And what’s your favourite book of all time?
Another fab question! My favourite book of mine has to be The Black Petal, which must be annoying people to death as I’ve been wittering on about it for ages now, and it still isn’t released. It’s a book about two characters being thrust into a new world; a realm of fantasy and myth. It’s a YA fantasy, and I hope it will reignite mythology back into the mainstream. It is nearly done though, the lovely Sharon Sant is giving it a once over for me, and then hopefully we can go from there.
My all-time favourite book though has to be Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights because it inspired me so much, that YA fantasy became an obsession for me. It was cleverly written, magical, but not afraid to go dark either, which is what I love. People have been congratulating the book for years, and its featured in many top book lists, but for anyone who hasn’t read it, please give it a go. It may just have the same profound effect on you that it did for me. And for those of you who have read it, read it again!
- Where in the whole wide world would you most like to visit?
Oooh, that’s such an unfair question as there are so many places I’d love to visit. I’m an ancient history buff, so the Parthenon in Greece, Valley of the Kings in Egypt, the Coliseum in Rome … the list is endless! But you know what, I’m going to be sneaky. I would love to visit Atlantis! See if it really is as magical and delightful as they say. It was Plato that wrote:
“For all that we have here, lying within the mouth of which we speak, is evidently a haven having a narrow entrance; but that yonder is a real ocean, and the land surrounding it may most rightly be called, in the fullest and truest sense, a continent. Now in this island of Atlantis there existed a confederation of kings, of great and marvelous power, which held sway over all the island, and over many other islands also and parts of the continent.”
I’m getting excited now just thinking about it!
- Being a single father must be difficult. How does it work for/against you in your writing?
You would never wish your children away, and of course I wouldn’t! But the truth is that being a single father, working full time and trying to fit in writing is exceptionally difficult. She doesn’t start school full time until September, and so writing, editing and all the marketing and promotion needed to do only gets done when I have a spare moment. My daughter, of course, must come first, which means my work comes first. Writing, as fun and fulfilling as it is, doesn’t pay the bills. Well, not yet anyway 😉 But being a father has many ups, and to experience what being a parent is all about means that my writing can evolve and grow with sentimentality, as I’m sure all life experiences can.
But I tell you one of the proudest moments was when Autumn saw a poster of my latest book, The Caseworker’s Memoirs, up in our home town and later went to her nursery group and told her teacher that “My dad is a writer, and when I grow up I’m going to be a writer too, so we can write stories together.”
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