James is the author of Hollow Pike, one of my top reads this year. He's also very passionate about reading and writing, and he's shortlisted to be Queen of Teen! James was kind enough to answer a few of my questions...
Q. Let’s start at the beginning.. what can you tell us about your book, Hollow Pike?
A. It’s been described as ‘Mean Girls with witches’, which works for me. It’s about a girl called Lis who moves to a small town called Hollow Pike only to discover it has a dark history. She think the witchcraft rumours are nonsense, but when a girl is murdered, she starts to think she might be next…
Q. How long have you been a writer for?
A. I’ve written for years. I used to write stories for my Grandma and then later wrote music reviews and interviews for papers and magazines. Hollow Pike was my first attempt at a novel.
Q. So what was your inspiration for Hollow Pike – where did the ideas come from, and how did they develop?
A. I really wanted to write about school. I think anyone who went to school will recognise Hollow Pike. Moreover, I wanted to write about people like me and my friends – I wasn’t seeing characters like us in other YA books.
The supernatural has always fascinated me too. The idea that in very ordinary villages, there are mysterious happenings! As the novel developed I looked to things like The Crucible and The Malleus Maleficarum for inspiration.
Q. There are some great characters in your book – go on, be honest, are they based on anyone you know?
A. Absolutely! All of the characters are versions of my friends or composites of people I know. That’s what writers do -beg, borrow and steal!
Q. Considering the success of other books, were you not just a tiny bit tempted to add a vampire? ;-)
A. Not in this one. I do hope the vampire genre can come back post Twilight though as one day I’d love to tell a vampire story. But not this one, no!
Q. What comes next for you – will we hear any more from Hollow Pike, or are you moving on to other things?
A. I’d love to go back to Hollow Pike and explore the town in more detail at some point, but the next book will be something completely different. It’s still for YA readers and is even twistier and turnier than Hollow Pike.
Q. You’ve been shortlisted for ‘Queen of Teen’, tell us a little more about the award, and what it means.
A. The Queen of Teen is great because it’s all voted for by young readers. It doesn’t take itself too seriously either. The winner gets an ACTUAL CROWN.
Q. What would it mean personally to you if you won.. what would you do with the title?
A. It would be fantastic because I really hope that Hollow Pike (and my next book) captures what it’s like to be young. Getting an award from young adult readers would be a seal of approval.
If I won, I’d be able to visit schools as ‘the Queen of Teen’ instead of ‘another author’, which would be great because I could share my books and love of reading far and wide.
Q. Do you enjoy attending events, chatting to readers on twitter etc, and how important do you think this is?
A. I really do. Writing can be a solitary career so getting out and about is hugely important. For authors, Twitter is the watercooler.
Q. Finally, what do you like to read yourself.. who are some of your favourite authors, and who’s on your bedside table right now?
A. I am a YA reader AND writer. I love the pace and edge of YA books. I love Patrick Ness, Philip Pullman, Malorie Blackman and Maureen Johnson. At the moment, I’m reading Miss Peregrine’s Home of Peculiar Children by Ranson Riggs.
James would be thrilled if you could vote for him at www.queenofteen.co.uk/vote
Author Interview - James Dawson
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