I'm a huge fan of Siobhan Curham's, having really enjoyed Finding Cherokee Brown and Shipwrecked, so I was thrilled when The Bookbag - where this interview originally ran - gave me the opportunity to interview her!
- When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?
Siobhan Curham: For my books, Dear Dylan and Finding Cherokee Brown, I definitely saw young people who were maybe going through a tough time, as I'd written those books to hopefully inspire readers to overcome their obstacles and pursue their dreams. During the writing of my books, I'm constantly thinking about the reader and whether or not what I've written is interesting or captivating enough. With Shipwrecked I pictured a slightly older reader and one who wanted to be entertained - and enjoyed being slightly spooked!
- Your first two books, Dear Dylan and Finding Cherokee Brown, were very realistic reads, while Shipwrecked is a contemporary story but with paranormal elements as well. What made you make the shift?
SC: I was actually asked to write Shipwrecked by my publishers as part of a partnership they had formed with a television production company. The idea was that I would write a book series that would be developed for TV whilst I was writing it, rather than after. So, I was given the brief of creating a story about a group of young people who get shipwrecked. I chose the paranormal element as I thought it would make an interesting challenge, having never written about anything like that before. I ended up scaring myself to death!
- If you were stranded on a desert island, which six literary characters or authors would you most want to be stranded there with?
SC: Lennie from the YA novel, The Sky is Everywhere and her creator, Jandy Nelson as I LOVE her writing. Aslan from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe because he was my favourite character as a child. Anne Frank because she has always been one of my heroes.Elizabeth Wein, author of Code Name Verity, to shout at her for writing such a heart-breaking plot twist and hug her for writing such an incredible book. And Willie Wonka from 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' because hopefully he'd bring lots of weird and wonderful chocolate creations and we wouldn't have to end up eating bugs.
- All three of your books so far have received particular praise for really strong central characters. Who are you most like, Georgie, Cherokee or Grace?
SC: I'm probably a mixture of Cherokee for her love of writing and books - and Grace because I love to dance.
- I didn't realise until recently that Dear Dylan - now published by the fantastic Electric Monkey imprint of Egmont, along with your other two books - was originally self-published. What made you decide to self-publish, and were you always hoping it would be picked up by a major publisher?
SC: I actually originally turned down a traditional book deal for Dear Dylan because I was scared that some of the issues it covers (like domestic violence) would be watered down. I had written the book solely to try and help young people who might be going through similar things to Georgie, so I decided to self publish and give the e-book away for free. Then somehow, it went on to win a national book award! The book went to auction and I went with the fantastic Electric Monkey because they assured me that they wouldn't change any of it. And they have a really cool name, haha!
- Advance publicity for Shipwrecked describes it - pretty accurately - as 'Gossip Girl meets Lost'. As much as I enjoy Cecily Von Ziegesar's books, I think most people are probably more familiar with Gossip Girl as a TV series, so it's interesting that the comparisons seem to be with TV rather than with other books. Is there any chance we could see Shipwrecked make it to the small screen?
SC: Yes, hopefully, because it was written specifically with that in mind. The TV side of the project has taken longer to come to fruition though because it always takes so long for screen projects to come together. Fingers crossed there'll be news on that front really soon . . .
- I thought the love interest in Shipwrecked was rather fantastic, and have no doubt that teens all over will be falling hard for him. Who was your first fictional crush?
SC: So pleased you like him! This is REALLY EMBARRASSING but my first fictional crush was Julian from the Famous Five!! When my brother was born I even begged my parents to call him Julian! For some reason they refused...
- I'll be honest, one of the main reasons I picked up Shipwrecked - apart from having really enjoyed Finding Cherokee Brown - was the 'dance school' element, as I've always loved dancing stories. (Not that they have much time for dancing as they're trying to survive, admittedly...) Did you read many books about dance when you were a teen? If so, what were your favourite?
SC: I LOVE dancing stories too. And dance movies. Fame was my favourite when I was younger. I used to pretend that I was a dance teacher and make my younger siblings be my students and get them to do endless routines in the living room. I was such a great big sis, hahaha!
- What would you recommend for readers to keep them busy while they're waiting for your next book?
SC: Well, I'm currently working on a YA novel called THE TRUTH ABOUT LYING. It's about two characters who have blogs and meet online and it's a collaboration with another writer - a poet called Aaron Daniel. I thought it would be cool to actually set up the fictional blogs featured in the book and post the first few chapters online for free. So I'd love it if readers could keep busy by giving me feedback on the story as it progresses. I'll be posting more details on my website and twitter: @siobhancurham when it starts in the next few weeks.
- What's next for Siobhan Curham?
SC: As well as THE TRUTH ABOUT LYING, I'm also finishing the second book in the Shipwrecked series and expanding my coaching business Dare to Dream helping other people achieve their dreams - which is very rewarding!
- Thanks for chatting to us, Siobhan andwe're looking forward to seeing the resuls of all your hard work.