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You have an impressive background in fiction and nonfiction. Why did you decide to start writing YA books?
I sometimes teach creative writing classes, and in the 2000s, I taught a bunch of them. I had a standard set of exercises, and one of them was, “Write for two minutes as fast as you can starting with this sentence: ‘Please, please marry my son.’” I always do the exercises with the class (it’s more fun that way), and at one of these, I wrote, “‘Please, please marry my son,’ implored the chipmunk of the maiden.” The chipmunk goes on to say how unsuitable her son is.
It was a short little toss-off exercise, but something made me think, “I kinda like this. There’s something here.” I poked at the idea on and off for, literally, years, but bogged down. And then in April 2016, I thought, “I have to give this a real shot.” I wrote what became THE PURPLE HAZE, with that first line more or less intact.
I’d never written anything that long before, and at
So, YA found me more than I found it.
What do you love most about the young adult genre?
I love the characters, and how they’re just on that cusp of adulthood. Their concerns are very different to what they will be five years later. It’s a fun age to explore. Plus, I write very clean novels, and I think its easier to do with characters of that age.
Do you prefer outlining or are you a “pantser” as we like to call it in the industry?
I tried to pants THE PURPLE HAZE, but like I said, got bogged down. It wasn’t until I had an outline and sense of the full story that I was able to get on track. So think of me as a light outliner — I need to know where I’m going, but I don’t go into heavy detail in the chapters beforehand. Maybe a sentence or two per chapter.
What project are you currently working on?
Just this week, I sent the manuscript for book three in the series, THE LIGHT BEARER, to my alpha readers. So, right now, I’m starting book four, QUEEN ELOISE. I’ve written the first few thousand words, but, to your earlier question, I’m still hammering out the story outline. So the writing isn’t quite as fast at the moment as it will be.
How did you come up with the idea for it?
Being the fourth book in the series, it flows on from the story that precedes it. I know where this book starts, and I know where the book will end. I just need to connect those points with a whole bunch of story in between.
What is the last book you read? Did you enjoy it?
The last book I read was Libbie Hawker’s “Take Off Your Pants,” a book about outlining. I’m trying to get my head in the story structure space. It’s the third or fourth time I’ve gone through her book.
The fiction book I read was “The Consuming Fire” (The Interdependency, #2) by John Scalzi. I’m a big fan of Scalzi’s — I like his breezy, funny style — and have enjoyed the first two books in this series.
What’s next on your TBR list?
Do you prefer to read physical books or eBooks?
Neither. I’m very much an audio book guy. With my wife and daughter, I run Australia’s largest farm animal sanctuary (see deeppeacetrust.com), and I have a day job. So I have a lot of time doing things that allow me to multi-task and listen to books, like shovelling manure or driving. So, give me an audio book any day. And if I can’t have that, then I’ll get the ebook version and have Siri read it to me. I find it’s the most efficient way for me to enjoy them.
When reading physical books, do you use bookmarks or do you fold corners?
Bookmarks. Definitely and emphatically bookmarks.
What advice would you give to your teenage self?
Pay attention to the niggles and hints that show you where your true interests
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