Why did you choose for readers experience the doomed relationship through Claire?
It couldn’t be told by Ella or Orpheus. They are destined to live out the story, and in many ways they have no choices to make. Once they fall in love, they must follow the trajectory of the story. It had to be told by an outsider who is close to the pair, who sees what is happening, who is deeply excited, troubled and inspired by what is going on. When I began to write through Claire’s eyes, I felt very close to her. She is of course in love with Ella herself, and her telling of the tale is filled with her own feelings of love and loss.
You’ve called this story “a tragedy that is filled with joy.” Was it hard writing a natural, modern balance between hope and despair, joy and sadness?
Writing is always hard! But when it is going well, it is also a kind of release, a song of freedom. At times I felt that Orpheus was somehow singing through me, and I tried to give myself up to it and let the words run through me.
If you could spend one day with any of the characters in A Song for Ella Grey, who would it be and why?
Oh, it would have to be Orpheus! I’d love to see him, to hear singing and music that brings the birds from the sky, the seals from the sea, and which reaches down to the deepest parts of the soul.
What is your writing process like when working on your novels? What does your average working day look like?
I write for about two hours a day, every morning, in my office in my house. I don’t know much about the story when I start, maybe just an idea for a character, and maybe a small plot idea. I make up the story as I go along, but a lot of it is really bad. So after I finish the first draft, I write a second draft. It’s still pretty bad, but at least I know the story and characters better. Then I write a third draft. Then a fourth draft. Then a fifth draft. And maybe a sixth draft. The first few drafts I’m mostly concerned with characters and plot. The later drafts I’m more concerned with the art of writing.
In the middle of this short Guardian Q&A with the Branford Boase Award winner Rosie Rowell:
What was the last book you had recommended to you and what children’s book would you recommend to us?
Recently I’ve been reading all the shortlisted books for the Branford Boase prize – each of them is so different and so good.
From a reading and writing point of view, Meg Rosoff’s books are an inspiration. And I love Why We Took the Car by Wolfgang Herrndorf and think everyone should read it.
ACHUKA couldn’t agree more with that last sentence.
I would have been a writer. I was a writer when I was five years old. I was a writer when I was 14. I was a writer all through university. I can’t imagine I would ever have stopped telling myself stories in my head for my own amusement.
In terms of earning my living, I would probably have ended up either working for a charity, or in publishing.
Q&A with Steven Butler, author of The Diary of Dennis The Menace:
I’m afraid to say I was a lot like Dennis The Menace. I was never deliberately wicked, but I was pretty accident-prone and was always falling out trees and smashing windows. Sorry, Mum…
What’s the naughtiest thing you ever did as a child?
Oh gosh, I did so many naughty things when I was young. Most of my stories are a bit too long to fit in this little answer, but I can tell you that I used to fib A LOT. I discovered I was in possession of a whopping big imagination and would lie to anyone gullible enough to believe me. I told teachers I’d been on safari in Africa after having a day off school with a cold, and once explained that my brother had broken all of his limbs because he was off sick and I couldn’t remember the word asthma.
The Barrington Stoke website currently features an interview with Anthony McGowan:
There is a lot of love for Anthony McGowan’s Brock, a powerful read about two brothers, Nicky and Kenny, who captured hearts and imaginations. “Don’t be fooled by its size,” wrote one bookseller, “This is McGowan Super Concentrate.” Another story about the boys was inevitable; our readers wanted more and so did we! Pike sees the brothers launch a salvage mission after they spy a gold watch – and very possibly its owner – at the bottom of a local pond. It’s another gripping piece of writing, tackling heavy themes of poverty and the plight of young carers, packed with dark humour, family love and powerful characterisation. We grabbed author Anthony McGowan for a quick chat on his writing process, raft-building and how the ending to Brock could have been much, much darker…
Read the full Q&A here: Q&A: Talking Pike and Brock with Anthony McGowan.
Vivian French is the hugely popular author of over 200 children’s books, including the Tiara Club and Tales from the Five Kingdoms series as well as non-fiction books such as Caterpillar Butterfly and Growing Frogs. She took some time out from visiting schools in Birmingham as part of the Scottish Friendly Children’s Book Tour to chat [The Independent] about persistent bats, her love of comic fantasy and her brand new series of books.
Branford Boase winner CJ Flood does a quick Q&A for the Telegraph:
• What did you think of the German title for your book Infinite Sky, Who Do You Love If I’m Dead?
I think it’s brilliant. Titles are always a struggle for me, and I tend to like long titles because I have literary pretentions. (I wanted to call the book The Sky was Blue and Infinite).
• Who gave you the most confidence that you could be a writer?
Not many people were very supportive at first, really. Not once I wasn’t a cute(ish) little kid any more, at least. I think it’s hard to support early writers/artists, because often at the start they aren’t very good. They just have good taste, and maybe an over-inflated ego/poor self-esteem.
Click link for rest of the Q&A
What was your favourite book when you were younger?
Blubber by Judy Blume. I read that book at exactly the right moment in my life, when I was first navigating the complicated waters of female friendship, when schoolmates were starting to divide up into groups, and status within the classroom was suddenly a "thing." I couldn’t put a name to bullying yet, but I recognized my life in that book, and it made me feel like I wasn’t alone.
Some interesting observations in this Metro News Q&A with Jeff Kinney.
There are two ways to look at my publishing career. One is that I’m a novelist churning out books, who is eight into a series; the other way is that I’m a cartoonist, just starting out. Most cartoonists have long careers: Charles Schulz drew Peanuts for 50 years.
At first I felt a lot of pressure to age Greg [flawed Wimpy Kid diarist Greg Heffley] because I was thinking of him as a literary character. With the fifth book I realised that the DNA of the character is in comics and comic book characters don’t change.
A lot of times kids, boys especially, are handed books that don’t appeal to them. When a kid opens one of my books they instinctively feel it’s not work, but fun. Adults read for pleasure, or for information, and I think kids need to feel that too.
The books are written in a font I designed, based on my handwriting. A lot of parents of dyslexic kids tell me their kids are able to read these books.