Ever notice when you read an interview from an author, they always ask the same questions: how did you get into writing? What inspires you? What inspired you to write this book? It gets samey after a bit. So I had a trawl of the internet for different questions and came up with these 5 as my favourites of the moment.
- What is your favourite book from childhood?
- What is the first book that made you cry?
- Have you ever read an author whose books you didn’t like, and how has this impacted on your writing?
- Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
- What did you edit out of this book?”
Here are my answers:
My favourite book from childhood was bought for me by my mum and dad. Written by Julie Edwards – or so it said on the front cover – it was the tale of three siblings: Ben, Tom and Melinda Potter, who through their association with Professor Savant travel to meet the last of the Whangdoodles; a mythological creature capable of growing his own slippers. As a kid, I was enchanted. As an adult I need to find it at my parents and read it again.
The first book that made me cry was Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce. It’s towards the end when Hetty gets older, falls in love with Barty and ceases to see Tom.
As for the author whose books I didn’t like – I have a confession to make. It’s Tolkein. It’s probably not his fault. It’s probably the fault of my English teacher in first year senior (year 7) for making us read The Hobbit. Whatever possessed them? It’s a book you should curl up with not be forced to read in school. It scarred me for life. How has impacted on my writing? I get to the action as quickly as possible. Also, I don’t write books worthy of literary study. In my mind, it’s the kiss of death.
My books do have connections, yes. The historical research binds the three books, obviously, but I have cameos. Melville from book 1 of Aldwych Strand – pops up in Cowardice, as does Mark (in passing) and of course Lucy gives a little girl some words of advice in Whitechapel, which shapes how she deals with the pawnbroker…
As for what did I edit out of Cowardice of Crows? There was a newspaper article about Symington at the Savoy Hotel. I wanted it to show him as the centre of the media, and provide a link to the previous books. The editor really didn’t like it. She was right. It was awful. It went.