Foto: Kate Ling
OMKRING BOGEN Under ensomme stjerner
Mention three fun facts that your fans maybe don’t know about you
It took me almost twenty years to learn to drive; I finally passed my test (in Spanish) on the sixteenth try.
I fell asleep watching the most spectacular meteor shower in Western Australia and was woken by sprinklers at 3am because I hadn’t realised I was lying on a football field.
I spent four days feeling horribly seasick on a tiny boat with no bathroom to get to a remote Indonesian island where I saw dragons and swam with phosphorescence.
When did you know that you wanted to become an author?
Look, I know it’s a cliché but truly I always knew. Even as a tiny child I spent ridiculous amounts of time in my own head imagining new scenes and characters. My parents gave me a sky-blue manual typewriter when I was about five years old and I used to sit there banging out my stories one-fingered.
How long have you been writing? And what started it?
Honestly, writing has always been a bit of a compulsion for me – I have to do it every day, for my own health and wellbeing. It was always the thing I was best at, at school – making things up. My favourite part of studying for my degree was getting to specialise in creative writing in my final year. I guess what was best about that was getting my writing out of my head and in front of other peoples eyes, and having feedback from people whose opinion I trusted. It’s hard to let someone look at your work for the first time but it’s incredibly valuable and also thrilling.
Who discovered you? (Did you contact publishing houses? How was the process?)
It took me about a year to write the first version of Loneliness and then late one night I suddenly felt ready to send it out there. I thought I would send it to a whole load of agents and wait a while before I knew anything but actually I got a reply within about half an hour of sending off the email, despite the fact that it was the middle of the night. I knew right then that my agent was the one for me – I loved how immediate and passionate her response to Loneliness was. Her and her fantastic team then took it around to publishers, in the UK and in other territories too, and got me my deals. The editing process is actually quite long so it was more than a year later that I was on the shelves, but seeing my book in print was probably one of the best moments of my life.
How many books have you published (so far)? And which genre?
I was contracted to write a trilogy, of which “The Loneliness of Distant Beings” was the first. The second “The Glow of Fallen Stars” comes out in August in the UK, and thereafter in other territories, and I can’t wait to see what people think of it. The third, “The Truth of Different Skies”, is due to come out next May; it’s in the editing stages at the minute and I am really excited about how it’s turning out. They are all sci-fi/romance hybrids. I’m currently also working on ideas for my fourth book, and I suspect it might be quite sci-fi too, but that’s not set in stone.
Why this story? What made you choose this specific theme?
I’ve always been pretty obsessed with space – I think anyone who was born at the end of the seventies was surrounded by it, culturally, to such an extent that it was impossible to ignore. I often find myself gazing up at the stars and wondering about them – what’s out there? Are we alone? How will we ever find out? But I also knew I wanted to write about the intensity and beauty of first love. I loved the idea of pairing these two ideas – these two journeys into the unknown, quests for contact.
What inspires you to write? Which authors have inspired you? (Music, art, things in life?)
I always find I get super inspired when I travel. It drives my husband and kids mad that I’m always getting my MacBook out when we’re on holiday. The music I listen to is always pretty important too, as it always ends up being the soundtrack to the movie that’s playing in my head. I’m constantly inspired by what I read as well, if I love it. I feel I owe quite a lot of the voiciness (that’s not a word, but you know what I mean) of my style to the writers I loved as a teenager, like Bret Easton Ellis, JD Salinger and Jack Kerouac.
What is the message of your book? How should the reader interpret it?
What I was aiming for, with Loneliness, was to write a heroine who was real. I didn’t want Seren to be a chosen one; I just wanted her to be an ordinary girl who makes mistakes and has problems and doesn’t always do the right thing, but who is passionate and brave and who never gives up. I was a bit tired of reading about gun-toting, moralistic revolutionaries, and wanted to write about a girl who was flawed but strong and likeable, and who ended up doing something extraordinary. I wanted to raise questions about choice and existence and freedom, while telling what is hopefully a mix of moving love story and thrilling adventure.
How do you identify with the character(s) in your book?
In terms of Seren I identify with her a lot – she for sure reminds me of me at her age. I was impulsive and I didn’t always do that right thing (ha!). I’ve also struggled with my own mental health as she does, and as, to some extent, we all do. What I love most about Seren is her honesty, and this was something I was very keen to put across in my writing. The books I love the most are the ones that are brutally and unflinchingly honest about life and feelings, talking about everything, even and especially the darker sides of ourselves.
What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading the final instalment in Melinda Salisbury’s SIN EATER TRILOGY, which I think is mesmerising, the world within it so complete and unique.
Mention 3 book titles that you wish to recommend
Jandy Nelson’s THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE is just so beautiful. Eliza Wass IN THE DARK IN THE WOODS is addictive and terrifying and absorbing. For my last choice I can’t decide between PAPER BUTTERFLIES (Lisa Heathfield) and SEVEN DAYS OF YOU (Cecilia Vinesse) – both atmospheric and truthful and moving. I’m a young person’s librarian when I’m not writing so recommending books is my bag!