Friday 10 February 2012

Friday Feature: Interview with Edward Hogan

I got through a huge amount of books in January, many of which were absolutely superb. Perhaps one of the pleasantest surprises for me was the YA debut of adult author Edward Hogan, Daylight Saving - a chilling story with a great location and fantastic characters. I jumped at the chance of an interview, naturally.

1. When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?

That's a really interesting question. While I'm writing a first draft, I think mostly about my characters. It's only when I start redrafting that I start thinking about readers. My first reader is Emily, my other half, and her feedback is always very astute - she has great ideas. And then there's a small group of readers including my agent. With Daylight Saving, I thought a lot about the pace of the book, and my editing was really driven by wanting to cut out any wasted words. I wanted the book to be gripping. I think it's important to respect readers, and respect their time.

2. I loved the setting of Daylight Saving in the Leisure World Holiday Complex - although as someone who, like Daniel, isn't really sporty, I think I enjoyed reading about it significantly more than I would have actually liked being there! What gave you the idea for the setting?

I went on a very similar holiday when I was small (although the biggest drama was when I burned my tongue on some hot chocolate!). What was remarkable about the place we stayed was that it was embedded in Sherwood Forest! The forest is an eerie, beautiful place. It's also ancient, of course, full of the history and legend of England. But there we were, playing badminton!

3. And on a similar note, what's your favourite ever setting in a novel?

I have a terrible sense of direction; I can't read maps, so (with exceptions, of course), I tend to like novels that stay in one place, as opposed to odysseys and voyages. Annie Proulx's collection Close Range provides a sort of folk history of Wyoming. She writes brilliantly about how the people adapt their lives to the brutal landscape, and how it shapes their minds and the stories they tell. The collection includes 'Brokeback Mountain', and 'Bad Dirt', which is about the dangers of rodeo. It's an amazing, strange piece of work. Proulx quotes a retired Wyoming rancher at the start of the book, who says, "Reality's never been of much use out here." That about sums it up.

4. While Daylight Saving is your first YA book, you've written others for adults. What's the main difference between writing for adults and for teenagers?

I don't think there has to be that much difference. I've read a few YA novels recently that would certainly appeal to adults (Mal Peet's Life: An Exploded Diagram is an excellent example). I've noticed from being a teacher, that teenagers don't much like being patronised! The teenage years are a time of revolution and passion, and a time when we make decisions about who we are, and those things are always worth writing about seriously. The main difference for me, writing Daylight Saving, was that I decided to write a thriller, which was something I'd never done before. Hopefully it's got some twists and turns.

You don't need to worry on that score, Ed - it definitely has!

5. What do you enjoy most about writing? What would you rather not do at all?

I love having the ideas. Weirdly, when I have a bit of a breakthrough with an idea, I immediately stand up from my desk and go and walk around. It's like a mini-celebration. It doesn't happen very often, unfortunately! In terms of the stuff I find hard, I can't complain, really. It's a great job. I often feel anxious when a book comes out, and it starts to get reviewed. It's quite exposing. But I know I'm lucky to be published, and to be reviewed at all, so you have to take it on the chin when someone doesn't like it.

6. Do you listen to music when you write? If so, was there a soundtrack for Daylight Saving?

I don't listen to music while I write, but the soundtrack question is very interesting. Unlike other novels, I had a little ritual with Daylight Saving. Every morning, before I started work, I listen to Pyramid Song by Radiohead. It just seemed to capture something of the weird, watery mood of the book. I understand it as a song about what happens when you die. It has a brilliant video, which you can see on youtube, but it's worth buying the song, too!

7. What are you reading at the moment?

I just read Tyme's End, by B R Collins, which is an excellent and very chilling novel. It has an usual and brilliantly handled structure, moving backwards in time to the horrific events that send shockwaves back through the rest of the story. A novel to read twice!

Sounds great, I'll keep an eye out for it!

8. If you could ask any other author any question, what would you ask and who would you ask it to?

Wow, what a brilliant question! Maybe I would ask Stephanie Meyer if she could lend me a tenner. Seriously, though, I'm just a beginner, so I have tons of questions. If it could be anyone, living or dead, I'd ask Muriel Spark about The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. The question would be something along the lines of: "How the heck did you manage that?!" An amazing and technically perfect book.

Fabulous choice, I loved that book!

9. If you could collaborate with another author on a novel, who would you choose and why?

I think it would have to be someone who writes funny stuff featuring teenage characters. The Canadian writer Miriam Toews fits that bill, although she's not a YA author (check out her books A Complicated Kindness, The Flying Troutmans and Irma Voth). One of the best teen novels I've read recently is Mermaids by Patty Dann. I don't even know if it's in print in the UK, but it's so funny and inventive, and the central characters - Charlotte and her mother - are brilliantly drawn. I bet it would be fun to work with Patty Dann.

I'll be sure to keep an eye out for both those authors, thanks for the recommendations!

10. What's next for Edward Hogan?

Well, my next YA book, The Helmstown Messengers, should be ready in 2013. It's set in a seaside town, and is about a girl called Frances, who has an unusual gift. It's another sort of mystery story, and I had a great time writing it.

That's about it, Jim! Thanks again for giving me some space on your blog!

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Ed! I look forward to reading The Helmstown Messengers.


  1. Fantastic and insightful interview, Daylight Saving is on my radar and I'm sure I'll be buying it soon!

  2. Glad you enjoyed the interview, Jesse - hope you get the book soon, it's well worth reading!