One of my favourite books for ages is The Repossession, Sam Hawksmoor's somewhat crazy - but completely wonderful - sci-fi thriller. It's released next week, and he was kind enough to stop by for a chat.
1. When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?
Hmm, I don’t think in plurals. I wrote this for one particular girl who was keen to read the next chapters. She kept asking ‘What’s next?’ And she was very protective of Genie. To be honest that’s best situation a writer can ever hope for and it spurred me on. I just hope others find it the same experience for them.
2. I described the Repossession as "Totally crazy in the very best way." How on earth did you come up with such an incredibly original plot?
It’s simply about two kids who love each other and run away but fall into a terrible trap. But then again speaking as someone who grew up on repeats of old TV series and films such as ‘The Invaders’ and ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ it’s always those around you and the most familiar who will betray you. Rian and Genie live in a town where everyone has a terrible secret. It grew from there I think.
3. For me, one of the most chilling aspects of The Repossession is the location of Spurlake and the people who live there. (I'm keeping that vague because most people reading this interview won't have had a chance to get the book yet, obviously!) What's your favourite location in fiction?
For me Vancouver and the hinterland of B.C. are a continuing fascination. Doug Coupland’s ‘Girlfriend in a Coma’ brings it vividly to life. Half our favourite movies are filmed in Vancouver (Twilight for example, Juno) and I wanted to set my story in B.C. where I have lived on and off for twenty years. It’s also about credibility. The American/Canadian West Coast is where all the new ideas and science is being developed and tested. This is story that just couldn’t work if it was set in England. It lacks the dramatic geography.
4. Speaking of Spurlake, I absolutely love the page about it on your website giving background information on the town. Was this your idea, or the publisher's?
Mine. I drove hundreds of kilometres up around the Fraser River last year and took pictures of the location. With luck I’ll get more up for the sequel The Hunting. There are many small towns just like Spurlake and if you stop the car and listen for just a second you’ll hear the sound of yet another chainsaw in action…
5. In addition to some brilliant stuff about The Repossession, your website also contains a bunch of reviews you've written of other YA books. Which would you particularly recommend to someone who needs a book to read while waiting for The Repossession to be published?
I just read ‘Dark Inside’ by Jeyn Roberts (Massive earthquake triggers a zombie virus) on the West Coast. ‘Ship Breaker’ by Paulo Bacigalupi (Surely the one writer who really knows what the future of the West will be like). The Droughtlanders by Carrie Mac (terrific climate change/ terrorist/ feuding brothers trilogy). But hey, if you read all those you won't have time for mine...
And that would DEFINITELY be a mistake! Grab the Repossession first, people. Then read those other books. (Great recommendations, though - have just picked up Dark Inside from the library so will look forward to reading it.)
6. No Twitter - seriously? How do you cope?
I just don’t get it. I don’t want to follow anyone or comment on every little thing that happens. ‘Gee I’m having a coffee and pastry in Café Nero right now…’
I can see how it fed the revolutions in Egypt and now Syria, but it also fed the flames of the riots in London last summer. Perhaps we don’t see just how dangerous it can be because for most people it is so ‘normal’. Nor can you retrieve something you wish you hadn’t said... Maybe I’m paranoid? I contribute reviews to an on-line magazine, but essentially I write and that keeps me pretty busy.
7. What advice would you give to someone looking to write a novel for teens?
Heroes can be boring. Don’t patronise. Super-powers are overrated. Teens feel things with a great intensity but that passion can also disappear really quickly. (Hence being dumped on facebook or twitter being the norm). Although they go around in packs, they are all individuals with secret dreams, just like everyone else.
8. Do you listen to music when writing? If so, what was the soundtrack
for the Repossession?
Well Repo was written a little while ago but The Pierces ‘13 Tales of Love’ and Bat for Lashes album figured large back then. But also tons of Mexican music that a friend brought back from holiday. I liked the passion and clash of sounds pumped out loud in the mountain home I was staying in. Can’t write in silence at all.
9. Would you ever consider collaborating on a novel? If so, who'd be your dream partner?
I’d really like to work on a graphic novel. Did an experiment with a young student artist a few years ago but we couldn’t publish it as it concerned a certain famous mouse escaping from a certain theme park with revolutionary intentions. They really do protect their copyright. It was a fun project though and I’d love to do that again. Maybe a Japanese artist. I’m a big fan of Animé.
Assuming it's the obvious mouse, sounds like a great project! A real shame we won't see it.
10. What's next for Sam Hawksmoor?
There are three novels waiting… First up the sequel to the Repossession called The Hunting coming out in August 2012. I put Genie and Rian through hell. Then an apocalyptic virus novel and a time travel one (not sure when yet) … working on something quite bleak at the moment to see where it might go. Probably ought to write something more cheerful after that… I stay busy…
Looking forward to them all, particularly the Hunting!
Thanks for taking the time to do this interview, Sam.
The Repossession hits shelves on March 1st and gets a massive recommendation from me! Check out my full review on The Bookbag.
To whet your appetite for this brilliant book even more, a trailer was released yesterday! Check it out on Youtube here.