Tell me what inspired you to write about your latest book?

It was actually a tweet. I probably can’t say what the tweet was without spoiling things, but I was sitting in a coffee shop with a notebook, doodling and playing with ideas. I knew I wanted to write something new and sci-fi-ish, but I wasn’t sure. I got distracted and went on Twitter, and saw this tweet (which wasn’t to me, just a general tweet) that set off fireworks in my brain, even though the subject matter wasn’t something usually associated with science fiction. I started furiously scribbling ideas, and that idea is now GAMESCAPE: OVERWORLD.


Do you try and read the online reviews you get on say waterstones website?

I actually don’t read that many reviews. I appreciate every one, but I’ve found reading them isn’t always a good thing for another. Even with the really positive ones, once you read a couple you start scouring the internet for more…and more…and more… Also I generally feel like reviewers, who are awesome, should be left alone to freely say whatever they want to say about a book without worrying the author is reading over their shoulder, as it were. If someone points me/links me to one, I do read it, but I don’t go looking for them.

Is there anything you wouldn’t write about?

Lots of things! Anything I don’t feel I have enough knowledge about or experience with to do justice to the subject, for starters. And of course I have to prioritize he books I want to write–I can’t write everything, there isn’t time. I don’t think there are any subjects I would find taboo, though, depending on how they were handled.

How hard do you find it to keep within an age category?

I think because I write for different age groups, I have those different outlets. There are a few things I have to remember, like when I’m writing MG I can’t swear, but mostly because the plot dictates the age group I don’t find it difficult to stick to the right tone once my head is in that world. One of the first decisions I make when deciding on a new project is what age the main character needs to be in order to make the story work. In my first book, Coda, I knew right away it had to be YA rather than MG because it’s about music as an auditory drug, and I didn’t feel I could make that work with younger kids. Same with Gamescape, because of the issues I wanted to tackle–and the way I wanted to tackle them. Other books are automatically MG from the start.

What did you do before becoming a writer? 

A bunch of different things, none of them as awesome as being to make things up while I sit in my pajamas.

Which author inspires you?

Anyone who sits down to tell a story and sees it through to the end. Writing books is hard and sometimes a very lonely business. It takes a lot of discipline and a lot of self-belief that can sometimes be hard to come by. I admire everyone who does it.

Which genres do you read yourself?

I read a lot of MG and YA, of course, because it’s bad (I think) to write in genres you don’t read. I also enjoy general fantasy and sci-fi for any age groups, some adult literary fiction, and a lot of nonfiction.

What is your biggest motivator?

I have a dog to feed! And also just the fact that mostly, I love my job. It has its tough times, but I am incredibly lucky to be able to do what I do.

What will always distract you?

Tennis on TV.

How much say do you have in your book covers?

I’d say I have a reasonable amount! It depends on the book and the publisher, but I’ve been really lucky in that they’ve always listened to my input and taken that on board. Book covers are almost always a compromise, though I’ve had a couple where I’ve just said, “don’t touch a thing! I love it!” Mostly there’s some give and take, and I fight for cover aspects that are really important to me.

As a child were you a great reader?

I read everything I could get my hands on. Still do. There weren’t many rules or restrictions in my house growing up, I was allowed to read anything as long as I could sound out the words.

Which book shop is your favourite?

I love Foyles, especially the new one. The children’s/YA section is fantastic, and the cafe is a really nice place to relax with the book you’ve just bought.

What can you not resist buying?

Reference books on the origins of words or on general history.

Do you have any rituals on your writing days?

Almost every day is a writing day! But no, not really. I’ve found that for me personally, relying too much on rituals or making the environment exactly right gives me excuses to not work, because things aren’t perfect. Work isn’t perfect for most people, and writers are no exception. I need coffee, and I walk my dog every day before I sit down at my desk, and I always have music while I’m writing, but those things are part of any day for me and would be even if I had a completely different job.

How many books in your own to be read pile?

I haven’t counted, I’m not sure I have that many fingers and toes. 😉

What is your current read?

I’m always reading several different books at once. Right now, it’s a Discworld book, a nonfiction book about fear, K.W. Jeter’s Infernal Devices, and Kate Forsyth’s Bitter Greens. 

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