I've really enjoyed the first two books in Ian Somers's Ross Bentley trilogy, The Million Dollar Gift and The Hidden Gift, so it was great to talk to him about them.
1. When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?
At one time I might have been able to give a concise answer to this question, but over the last couple of years I’ve found that my readers are a very diverse bunch. But no matter what age they are or background they have, most of my readers seem to have a thirst for adventure. I guess that’s what attracted them to my books.
2. I really like Ross as a narrator and main character - who's your favourite main character in teen fiction?
That’s a very hard question to answer. There are so many wonderful characters out there that it’s difficult to pick one out. But if I had to pick one it would be Geralt, from The Witcher books by Andrzej Sapkowski. He was such a strong character, but one that carried a sense of tragedy - much like Lestat from the Anne Rice books and Aragorn from Lord of the Rings. It’s next to impossible to create a character that feels truly unique, but I think Sapkowski achieved this with Geralt.
3. I was intrigued by the decision to write a fair amount of The Hidden Gift from the villain's point of view - what made you decide to do this?
I like my books to be action packed and to have strong characters and relationships. I also like them to have a deeper message - one that gets the reader to think even after they’ve finished the book. In Million Dollar Gift there was a suggestion that we shouldn’t put so much trust in technology. We first come across Ross when he is a loner, a person who feels isolated and finds it difficult to relate to those around him. It’s only when he has no access to phones, laptops, video games and social media that he is forced to be himself around others and that leads him to find true friendship and true love.
With The Hidden Gift I wanted to do something very different. The book revolves around the vendetta between Ross and Edward Zalech. But I thought it would be too simplistic to tell this story from one person’s point of view. I felt it would be much more interesting to show this vendetta from both sides, with both characters believing that they are right and the other person is the one who has to be stopped.
4. Of all the 15 gifts, I think my favourite would be mind-switching. If you could switch minds with any animal, what would you choose and why?
I think I’d be a turtle - you’re never in a rush to go anywhere and you live for a very long time.
5. And on a similar note, which of the 15 gifts would you most like to have yourself, and which do you think would be more trouble than it's worth?
I’d like to be a space-rupter. I love the idea of being able to travel great distances in the blink of an eye.
One gift I wouldn’t like to have is Prophecy. This gift featured heavily in The Hidden Gift and caused all sorts of problems. I wouldn’t like to know the future. It would take all the fun out of life.
6. In both books, Ross has benefitted from strong mentors who've helped him use his gifts - first Romand then Hunter. Which person has had the biggest effect on your career?
A teacher of mine once called me an illiterate snot. Obviously this didn’t go down very well with me and I wanted to show him he was wrong. I think that one insult instilled a determination in me that I needed to become an author. No matter how many times I received rejections, I kept going because I felt I needed to prove myself.
Every cloud has a silver lining, eh.
7. Who would be your six ultimate dinner party guests from the world of teen fiction? (You can pick authors, characters, or a mix.)
Gandalf the Grey, Severus Snape, Geralt (The Witcher), The Spook, Count Olaf and Haymitch Abernathy. I would love to just sit there and listen the conversations that they would have. I also think it would end up in one hell of a fight.
8. Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what's the soundtrack to the Hidden Gift?
I mostly listen to movie soundtracks when I write. With the Ross Bentley books I listened to a lot of Hans Zimmer’s work. I must have played the Inception soundtrack a thousand times while writing Million Dollar Gift. With the second book I listened to The Dark Knight soundtrack over and over again. It’s quite a dark and intense score and helped me to immerse myself in the intensity that both Ross and Edward experience in that book.
9. If you could ask any author any question, what would you ask and who would you ask it to?
I would ask JK Rowling how she dealt with the pressure of writing the Harry Potter series. I can’t imagine the pressure to keep producing such great books when you know there are literally millions of fans waiting.
10. What's next for Ian Somers?
Currently I’m writing the final book in the Ross Bentley trilogy. I plan to have the first draft sent to my editor in January. After that I might start on a new YA series. I guess it depends on if there’s enough people out there that like my work. We’ll see.
Ian can be found on his website and on Twitter. His Ross Bentley books are published by the fabulous O'Brien Press.