Having reviewed, and really enjoyed, Torn by Cat Clarke, I was incredibly pleased to get the chance to ask this fabulous author some questions.
1. When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?
Someone impossibly good-looking, wise beyond their years and charming in every way. Or someone a bit like me. I write the sort of books I like to read.
2. Torn tells the story of a school trip gone horribly wrong - what was your own worst experience on a school trip or a holiday?
Well, there was the time I fainted getting on a ski lift and the instructor thought I was just messing around and wouldn’t stop shouting at me. Or the time my roommates and I (all aged 14ish) had to barricade ourselves in our room to protect ourselves from drunken sixth-form boys on the rampage. Or a potholing incident that might have inspired a scene in TORN (except it was about 83% less embarrassing than that scene). Needless to say, school trips were not my favourite thing in the world.
I was sick on the way back from Alton Towers once. I thought that had traumatised me for life, but looking at your experiences, I'm starting to think I was quite lucky...
3. Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what was the soundtrack to Torn?
I do! I find it very hard to write without music. For TORN, I listened to a lot of My Chemical Romance, Imogen Heap and Owl City. And when I say ‘a lot’, I mean ‘A LOT’. I often listen to the same album on repeat for days and days – sometimes even the same song (Imogen Heap’s Hide and Seek being a perfect example).
What a fab soundtrack! I'm a huge fan of MCR and Owl City, in particular.
4. You have a great website and you're a frequent tweeter. How important do you think an online presence is to a YA author today?
I think it’s pretty much essential, unless your name happens to be Stephenie Meyer or Suzanne Collins. It’s a brilliant way to connect with readers and, for me, it helps to maintain my sanity when I’m locked away with only my pets and imaginary friends to talk to. Having said that, my Twitter addiction may be getting a little out of control. There may be a stint in rehab (tweehab?) in my future.
5. On the aforementioned website, you name Christopher Pike as one of your writing heroes. (Fabulous choice, by the way!) Which is your favourite of his books?
Now this is a tricky one! I loved so many of his books, but special mentions must go to the FINAL FRIENDS trilogy and REMEMBER ME. If you put a gun to my head (and please don’t do that) I’d have to go with THE MIDNIGHT CLUB, which is set in a hospice for teenagers with terminal cancer. It was probably the first book to make me cry.
Have never read the Midnight Club but it sounds great - I'll have to check it out! Final Friends is one of my favourite YA series ever - staggeringly well done.
6. What are you reading now and how are you finding it?
I’m reading THE STRAW MEN by Michael Marshall. I was looking for a scary read and someone on Twitter recommended it to me. It’s certainly not disappointing on the scary front, I can tell you that much!
Part of me wants to check it out, but having spent 4 of the past 6 Sundays reading scary stuff and needing until 2:30 in the morning to get to sleep every time, I'll perhaps leave it until later in the week! (Hollow Pike, A Witch In Winter, Poison Heart and Choker being the books at fault there.)
7. If you could ask any other author any question, who would you ask and what would you ask them?
I’d ask Stephenie Meyer if chapter 13 of Twilight REALLY came to her in a dream or if that’s just a nice story. And she’d probably tell me to get lost, which would be fair enough I suppose.
8. What advice would you give to someone looking to write a novel for teens?
It’s the same advice I’d give to anyone wanting to write ANYTHING. Read. A lot. Read books in your chosen genre, then read outside your genre, then read some more.
9. If you could collaborate with another author on a novel, who would you choose and why?
I’d collaborate with my awesome critique partner, Lauren. She’s an incredible writer, and working with her would be massively fun. I think it would involve pub-based writing sessions too. This might actually happen in the not-so-distant future, you know...
Let's hope so! Sounds like the resulting book could be a lot of fun!
10. What's next for Cat Clarke?
I’m writing two books this year. *tries not to panic* *fails miserably* I haven’t quite finished the book I was meant to finish last year yet, hence the panic. The book I haven’t quite finished yet is my third YA for Quercus. At the moment it’s called UNDONE, although this could change! I should really get back to writing it, I guess...
Thanks so much for asking such awesome questions!
No problem, Cat - and thanks for giving such wonderful answers! Good luck with Undone!