The UKYA Extravaganza is a (sold out) event at Birmingham High Street Waterstones, organised by Kerry Drewery and Emma Pass. Today is my turn on the UKYA Extravanganza Blog Tour, which has been going since the start of February and will be ending next week, after the event itself.
On my blog today we have Rachel Ward, author of the Numbers trilogy and The Drowning and Water Born which we’ll talk a little about below.
So without further ado, here we go:
Hi Rachel, it’s great to have you hear on my blog today. You’re my first ever author interview and it’s even more special because it’s for the UKYA Extravaganza blog tour! I’m going to kick off by asking what you think is so important about UKYA?
Thanks so much for having me on your blog – I’m honoured to be your first author interview! When I started out ‘YA’ wasn’t really a thing, or at least it was just a thing in the USA. Over the last couple of years UKYA has definitely become a force to be reckoned with. It feels like a real community of writers, readers, bloggers, librarians and publishers and it’s a lovely thing to be part of. Writing in the UK is really strong and the UKYA label helps to promote that.
What are you most looking forward to about the UKYA Extravaganza event?
I’m ridiculously excited about the Extravaganza! It’s a chance to catch up with some old friends and to meet a lot of people – writers, bloggers, readers – that I’ve only ‘met’ on Twitter or Facebook. I think it’s going to be intense, fun and exhausting!
If you had to pick a book/series to encourage someone new to read UKYA, what would you choose and why?
Ooh, that’s so tricky. There are so many to choose from. The only YA (if that’s what it is) book I read before writing Numbers was Northern Lights by Philip Pullman. I’d recommend the His Dark Materials series to anyone. I’d also recommend anything by Kevin Brooks.
I recently read and reviewed your books The Drowning and Water Born, which both have water playing a rather sinister part in the story. What’s your relationship like with water?
Well, I used to be a keen swimmer, but I haven’t been to the local pool since I started writing Water Born! I only realised very recently that my relationship with water is probably clouded by falling backwards into a paddling pool and almost drowning when I was a tot. It’s one of my earliest memories. However I love swimming, so I should really get back to the pool …
There’s a big time gap between the events in The Drowning and Water Born. What made you want to write about Carl and Neisha again much later in their life, and why did you choose to do it from their daughter’s point of view?
I love writing sequels which skip to the next generation. It allows me to explore an idea from a different character’s perspective and I love finding out how life has worked out for my teenage characters as they become adults. I picked Nic for Water Born as I always have a teenager as my central character, and I was interested to see her view of her parents.
Is Water Born the end of Carl and Rob’s story, or can we expect to see a third book in the series?
Water Born is the end of the line for Carl and Rob.
If not can you say anything about what you’re working on at the moment?
I’m working on a detective story/thriller in space at the moment. I’m very excited about it. It’s got potential to be a really cracking story. I hope I can do it justice. I’ve done the first draft and now I’m playing with the plot and characters in a second draft.
Did you always want to be a writer or were there any other ambitions you harboured when you were younger?
Not at all. When I was younger I wanted to be a farmer or an estate agent. I only started writing in my mid-thirties on a whim really, to see if I could do it.
Do you find it easy when you’re writing a story or do you have to discipline yourself to get it all out on paper (or the screen, I guess)?
I’ve been a full-time writer for three years, and, to be honest, writing was easier when I had a day job. Although I was much more stressed and unpleasant to live with, I didn’t have any trouble settling down to write. I used to do 45 minutes every morning before waking everyone else up and going to work. Now that I’ve got more time, I have to set myself word targets e.g. 1000 words a day, in order to make progress. It’s also not easy translating the ideas in my head onto paper. The process of putting something into words is surprisingly frustrating, but fascinating.
I know you probably get this one a lot, but what advice would you give to an aspiring author?
A book takes a long time to write, so you’ve got to write about something you’re really interested in and with characters that you care about. Try and write every day. Have a notebook with you or make notes on your phone and write down descriptions of people or scenes you see when you are out and about. You never know when they’ll come in handy. Don’t be too obsessed about writing – have other things in your life too – and enjoy it!
And a few quick fire questions to round off with:
What are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading ‘An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth’ by Chris Hadfield partly as research for my book and also because I saw him speak last year and he was awesome. Before that I read ‘Five Children on the Western Front’ by Kate Saunders which I thought was wonderful.
Favourite book as a child?
I didn’t read as a mid-late teen, but my favourite book before I stopped reading was ‘Fly-by-night’ by K.M. Peyton. As a little child, I loved the Noggin the Nog books and ‘The Land of Green Ginger’.
Favourite writing drink and snack?
Coffee (either decaf or half and half) from my lovely coffee machine in the morning. Maybe a chocolaty treat to go with. Diet Coke in the afternoon with a sneaky Popchip or two. I was vegan for January and swapped chocolate for almonds and carrot sticks. I should probably do that again.
5 desert island books?
This is the hardest question! Why are you torturing me like this? Okay.
1. The notebook I kept as a sort of diary when my children were little, which records cute/horrific things they did or said, plus first words, etc.
2. The Collins Cobuild English Language Dictionary because I could learn new words or use random words as a starter for stories, plus one of the compilers was my sister and I’m very proud of her
3. The complete works of Shakespeare. I’ve never got on with Shakespeare, but I suspect I’m missing out. Being on a desert island might give me the time to study him and try and appreciate him more.
4. A compendium of detective stories 5. Another compendium of great UKYA!
Favourite place to read?
I read in bed before I go to sleep. I’m very good at falling asleep, although I have the annoying habit of waking super-early, so sometimes it takes me a long time to get through a book. The sign that I’m really gripped by a book is when I find time to read during the day, curled up on the sofa with my dog or tucked into bed with a microwavable owl.
Any hidden talents?
Well, it’s not very hidden because I keep telling people about it, but I started painting last year and I’m really enjoying it. I also take lots of photographs of Bath when I’m out and about with my dog, Misty, and tweet them (@RachelWardbooks
What fictional world would you love to live in?
I’d be very happy to live on the island in ‘The Summer Book’ by Tove Jansson for a while. I’m also fond (at least in theory) of cold, snowy places, so I’d like to spend time in the world of ‘The Tenderness of Wolves’ or ‘The Snow Child’ although I think the reality would be pretty harsh.
Thank you so much to Rachel for being here today, and to Kerry Drewery and Emma Pass for organising the UKYA Extravaganza. I can’t wait to see everyone at the event next week!
If you’d like to follow the blog tour or catch up on any posts you might have missed, all the bloggers and authors can be found in the picture below.