To dunk or not to dunk?
Whenever I complete a Q & A session for a culture blog, there’s nearly always one question I’ve never had before. This time, for the interesting new website The Notepad, written by a teenager for teenagers, that question was about the dunking of biscuits.
Here’s the Q&A in full:
Q: Your first novel for teens was released last year. Will there ever be a sequel?
I’ve just finished a second novel for teens/young adults, called Never Ending, which is about a girl traumatised by grief and guilt after her younger brother dies during a family holiday. It’s not a sequel to Flip but a completely separate story. It’s not due to be published until January 2014.
Q: Flip was about physic evacuation – where did the idea to base your first teen novel on that subject come from?
When I was a teenager I was envious of my best friend, who was better looking than me, more popular, better at sport etc. I remember wishing I could be him or wondering what it would be like. So, Flip gave me a chance to explore that idea by allowing Alex to switch lives and bodies with Philip.
Q: If you had to swap bodies, like Alex, ideally who would it be with?
As a teenager, I really wanted to be a professional footballer, so back then I would have swapped bodies with my favourite Leeds United player of the time – Eddie Gray. Now, I would swap bodies with anyone who doesn’t have asthma.
Q: Earlier this year, you gave me some advice in leaflets – what advice would you give to wannabe Journalists/Writers?
Write as much as you can as often as you can. Try different styles and forms and subjects. Be prepared to fail and try again. The best way to develop and improve as a writer (of fiction, poetry, journalism or anything) is by writing and re-writing.
Q: As an already accomplished writer, how did you start out?
I did a college course in journalism after my A-levels and worked as a newspaper journalist for thirteen years. But all that time I was writing short stories and working on a couple of novels, attending creative writing courses and evening classes and joining writing groups. I didn’t get my first story published till I was 32 years old but I’d been writing fiction seriously for about seven years by then. Then, I did an MA in Creative Writing and started work on what was to become my first published novel, Acts of Revision.
Q: What will your next book be about/do you have any ideas for it?
I have an idea for another teen/YA novel but it’s still at a very early stage in my mind and I have only just begun scribbling down a few notes. I don’t want to say anything about it because I find that if I talk about new ideas for novels too soon they can go stale on me. I hope to start writing it after Christmas/New Year.
Q: What were you like as a teenager, because at the Essex book awards you said Flip was based on the life you could never have as a teen?
I was quite confused and unsure of myself as a teenager. I wasn’t particularly good at all the social interaction with other people my age and I often got into trouble with teachers for showing off or playing the class clown in an attempt to make my classmates laugh and get them to like me. I lacked self-confidence and I wished I was better looking, more sporty, more popular.
Q: Would you ever consider writing for adults?
Actually, I HAVE written five novels for adults, which were published between 1996 and 2006. Flip was my first book for teenagers.
Q: Do you think Flip could ever be made into a film?
It would be great if it was! Not just because I’d get paid lots of money but because a film always creates more readers for the book and, like most writers, I want as many people as possible to read my work. It would be a tricky film to make, though – with an actor having to play the role of one boy trapped inside another boy’s body. But it worked in Freaky Friday, where a mother and daughter swap bodies.
And now for one silly, random question as I’m sure you get bored of always being asked about Flip:
Q: Alongside a hot drink such as Hot Chocolate/Tea/Coffee, do you prefer your biscuits plain or dunked?
Dunked. Always. Although, I hate it went you dunk for too long and the biscuit breaks off and you have to fish the gunk out of the drink with a teaspoon. Yuck.
Click here to link to The Notepad blog.
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