‘Talking to kids about books knocks the edges off you’ – Dave Rudden
As the second instalment of his YA trilogy hits the shops, Dave Rudden tells the Irish Independent about meeting his young fans, trying to bring his first book to the big screen and why he wouldn’t rule out writing a romance, with a few dragons thrown in…
Announced today, Lockhart’s Genuine Fraud will be released Sept. 5 by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books.
Edgy and inventive, Genuine Fraud is an instantly memorable story of love, betrayal and entangled relationships that are not what they seem. Lockhart introduces readers to the story of Imogen and Jule—Imogen, a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook and a cheat; Jule, a fighter, a social chameleon and an athlete. This is a novel about intense friendship, a disappearance, murder, bad romance, a girl who refuses to give people what they want from her and a girl who refuses to be the person she once was. Who is genuine? And who is a fraud? You be the judge.
Lockhart is a staple in the YA world, and she’s perhaps best known for her haunting We Were Liars, a deluxe edition of which will be published this May.
MashReads spoke to Lockhart about Genuine Fraud, her career, and her advice for 2017.
read the interview via Exclusive: E. Lockhart to publish a new YA novel.
“I’ve never been particularly interested in children at all, as such. Don’t particularly dislike them. But I’m not,” and his tone turns crisply disdainful, “a ‘child lover’.”
The bestselling children’s author was appalled to be considered a potential children’s laureate some years ago. “I didn’t see the point of that. It sounded awful. You go all over the country. Imagine it! The hotels and bed-and-breakfasts and taxis and trains, and really you just think: for God’s sake, what for? I suppose if you like that kind of public appearance, it’s alright, but I’d hate it.” He isn’t keen on lifetime achievement awards, either. “I’ve had one or two of those, and it’s a rather funny title, because come on, my lifetime hasn’t ended yet. But if you say you’ve got a lifetime achievement award, it’s like – well come on, get dead, man!” And he famously, of course, “hates Christmas”.
I ask Briggs why he thinks Ethel & Ernest feels so ominously resonant now.
“Ah, because now that dread’s coming back.” He reels off a few current trigger points – China and Taiwan, eastern Ukraine, Russian warships cruising the English channel – “and you think, my God, it could all be seen as utterly trivial – or it could be seen as something immensely serious. You just don’t know what’s going to happen, with a lunatic like Trump. And when we left that Europe thing, that Brexit nonsense, I was just so horrified. Crazy. When Nato and the UN were created, we thought it meant there could never be another world war. Well, there bloody well could be. Terrifying, isn’t it? Can’t believe it.”
Being an ambassador for an animal rescue home can be a risky business. Ask top-selling children’s author Dame Jacqueline Wilson. Up until seven years ago she had lived a pet-free life. Then in quick succession she found herself the owner of two kittens and a puppy, all from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. Jacob, a grey and white cat, arrived first, seven years ago, followed by Lily, also grey and white, and then Jackson, a black terrier.
Dame Jacqueline, who is 71 today, admits that her pets chose her as much as she did them. “It was love at first sight each time. You go to Battersea and there are all these dogs and cats and then suddenly there’s the one for you, it’s like meeting someone’s eyes across a room,” she said. “With Lily, I was at the home in my role as an ambassador and I was looking at all the kittens. I was wearing a grey coat and I picked up Lily to give her a cuddle. She started kneading my coat as if to say, look, we’re wearing matching colours so that means you’re my mum, please take me home with you.”
Jeff Kinney, interviewed by Scroll
Tell us about the process of putting together each book. Do the illustrations come first or the diary entries? Do you bounce joke ideas off anyone to make sure they are working?
I spend about five months writing the jokes, because humour is the priority in the books. I keep the jokes to myself more and more while writing because I need people to be surprised by them. I write about 350 jokes per book. I throw away about a third of them. Then I write the manuscript for about a month and then the illustrations for about a month and a half.
Do your books require a disciplined writing routine? How do you juggle other work, like your bookstore and the gaming business, with writing?
When I’m writing, I work very hard, but I’m easily distracted. I have ADD (attention deficit disorder), so it’s hard for me to stay focussed. But when I’m illustrating, I can sit there for 13 to 17 hours at a time and just draw. I’m not very structured otherwise (with other projects), I just go where the work is.
Comic writing is tough –making it seem effortless for maximum impact, book after book. What’s your formula?
I hope that I make it look effortless, because there’s a lot of strain behind the writing. It’s very difficult for me to write and come up with good jokes. The way I keep it fresh is to remind myself that there is a lot to childhood, and as long as I am honest about things and kids can see themselves in the characters and situations, then I’m doing my job.
The writer of this Guardian Review feature interview with Alex Wheatle, winner of the Guardian children’s fiction prize, gives (undue?) emphasis to Wheatle’s sense (as a male black author) of being overlooked in the past.
Hugely recommended feature on Charles Keeping from The Gentle Author blog:
The illustrations of Charles Keeping (1924–1988) burned themselves into my consciousness as a child and I have loved his work ever since. A major figure in British publishing in the last century, Keeping illustrated over one hundred books (including the entire novels of Dickens) and won the Kate Greenaway and Carnegie Medals for his superlative talent.
In 1975, Keeping published ‘Cockney Ding Dong,’ in which he collected songs he remembered sung at home as a child. Illustrated with tender portraits of his extended family, the book is an unusual form of autobiography, recreating an entire cultural world through drawing and popular song.
Recently, I visited the Keeping Gallery at Shortlands in Kent to meet Vicky and Sean Keeping who talked to me about their father’s work, as we sat in the family home where they grew up and where much of his work is now preserved and displayed for visitors. You can read my interview at the end of this selection of illustrations from ‘Cockney Ding Dong.’
A blog interview (by Holly Hughes) with Sarah Davis of the Greenhouse Literary Agency
Q: Have you fallen in love with any stories but passed because you knew they were difficult sells?
SD: I don’t think I have. I believe that an amazing story, really well written, will always find an audience – and even defy notions of what is “hot” at any particular time. But then, it is also not every day that I fall in love!
One is a powerful and sometimes wrenching read; how does Crossan feel younger readers process such strong subject matter? “I think the issues in the book are dealt with in a way that’s delicate enough that a child can self-censor. There are some moments in it that younger readers haven’t picked up on. I think that’s really important because I’m not in the business of writing brutal stories; I’m in the business of writing stories for children that are palatable for children. I think if you want to write an adult story, write an adult story. I have no interest in disturbing young children or exposing them to things that they are not ready to be exposed to.”
What does Crossan think of the explosion in YA crossover fiction, with many books being marketed at adults as well as younger readers? “I think it’s great for adults to be reading YA, especially as a way for parents or teachers to connect to younger people. Every child is different so when it comes to a child reading YA, it might be that one 11-year-old is ready for it and one 14-year-old is not ready for it. I think it just depends on the individual.
“I’m not advocating censorship — I’m saying a teen novel is a teen novel and an adult novel is an adult novel and if I wanted to write an adult novel, I would do that. The quality of YA is so high, there is so much literary fiction now; you’ve got John Boyne, David Almond, and Deirdre Sullivan, whose book Needlework is a phenomenal example of a crossover novel that deals with a very difficult subject delicately.”
Excellent feature interview with Quentin Blake…
For someone so synonymous with children’s books, Blake is unexpectedly reticent about his own childhood, claiming to remember very little. When I ask if it was happy, he shrugs. “It was all right,” he says. Interestingly, his own volume of memoirs about his life as an artist, writer and illustrator, Words and Pictures, begins when he was 16 and successfully submitted a cartoon to Punch.
Blake’s father was a civil servant — he was a clerk for the Imperial War Graves Commission in France before Quentin was born — and his mother, Blake says, was “a housewife”. She was 40 when he was born, and his brother was 11 years older, so he felt “like an only child”. He hardly recalls his brother living with them, though they got on as adults. He went to the local primary school, then Sidcup Grammar and on to Cambridge, to read English under FR Leavis. He drew from a young age, and attended life classes after he graduated (where he would look at the models and then try to draw from memory), but his art education was “cobbled together”. His parents were supportive of his art, but “had no terms of reference really”. Their ambition for him was “that I should get a job”.
His mentors were Alf Jackson, the husband of a Latin teacher at his school and a cartoonist and Modigliani-influenced fine artist who “would talk about Punch cartoons and Michelangelo”; and Brian Robb at Chelsea School of Art, who would comment on his drawings, though Blake did not attend his classes. He says he learnt to draw by looking at draughtsmen from Daumier to George Cruikshank, and contemporary cartoonists such as André François. Blake went on to teach for 23 years at the Royal College of Art, where he was head of the illustration department for eight years.
Blake draws daily — or very nearly; it doesn’t occur to him not to. Even he does not quite know how he produces his magic. “It never gets into words. You get emotion into the picture, and the people reading it can get it out of the picture.” Blake compares the business of illustration to acting. He doesn’t like to be interrupted when drawing, but on the odd occasion when he has been, observers have said he makes the faces of the characters he is drawing. As in acting, he inhabits an idea, signals it concisely and creates a response. He loves theatre, and compares the blank page to a stage.