There is just over a month to go until the big event itself, and while I am insanely jealous that I can't be there myself in person (300 miles is a wee bit too far) I am only too happy to support my one true love: UKYA.
Go and head over to the YAShot website and check it out, and keep an eye on the #YAShot hashtag on Twitter where you can find more stops on the tour and more giveaways, and even a readathon.
I have just had the pleasure of interviewing the lovely Faye Bird, author of My Second Life (which I reviewed earlier this year) and now I get to share with you everything that I've learned. Definitely check out her website, she's just revealed the US cover for My Second Life and her About page is so interesting and rather revealing if you have already read My Second Life.
Anyway, onwards to the nosiness! I mean, the interview.
As an agent you are the champion for your client. That’s true whether you represent writers, footballers or actresses. You guide and manage the careers of people with a talent that you recognize, admire and want to nurture. It’s a very personal relationship; some weeks you might speak every day (you have to get on well with your clients!) but it’s also a business relationship because essentially your job is to negotiate the best deal for your client. And that means protecting the rights in their scripts and formats and ensuring that they are getting paid properly for their work. You are essentially a friend, a manager, a lawyer and a deal maker. It’s quite a combination!
Your website says that you were always writing something, did you find that your job changed how you wrote?
No, I don’t think the job changed the way I wrote. However I would say that when I came to writing the experience of being an agent definitely helped me think about what I write, and gave me a greater foundation for the trials and tribulations of being a writer than I might otherwise have had. It’s made me less sensitive about rejection, more pragmatic about taking notes and massively appreciative of my own agent - to name just three things!
Do you plan what you write or just go with the flow?
I don’t really plan. Or perhaps I should say I’m learning to plan more! With My Second Life I just wrote, and I kept on writing until I got to the end. I guess the only plan I had in my head with that story, if you can call it a plan, was that there were certain key scenes that were in my head that I was always knowingly writing towards. This way of writing is not one I’d recommend. It is hugely inefficient. As a result I wrote many drafts before I got to the one that worked. So with my next book I have planned a good deal more, and what I’ve come to realise is that I like a plan, but I can’t plan too much. I like to know where I’m heading but I also need to leave room for my imagination to take hold, as this is what allows the story to change and grow as I write. And of course the excitement in writing a first draft is exactly in those spaces where you begin to see where the story can take you.
Where do you write?
I have two days a week that I dedicate to writing, and I go to the reading rooms at The British Library on at least one of those days. It’s an amazing space, and I love being in a room with other people, and lots of books, with lots of thinking going on in the quiet. There’s something quite extraordinary about it. And I can have my head down there writing for hours that somehow feel like minutes. It’s like magic! At home there are just too many distractions.
My Second Life is pretty dark - was that something you set out to write or is it just where the plot took you?
I always knew it would be a dark story. I was interested in writing about life and death – and specifically about how we live our lives based on what we think, believe or understand about death – and I guess by definition, it was bound to touch on some darkness. I didn’t set out to write a dark book, not at all, but I suspect in lots of ways the book reflects something of how I see life; that there is light and shade and you cannot really have one without the other. And certainly for Ana, at the end of the book, there is absolutely a sense of light despite all the shade that has come before.
What do you believe happens when you die?
I don’t know. And I’m sure this is why I have loved writing about it in the way that I have. What happens to us after we die is, for me, the ultimate unanswerable question, and in a story it can also make for the ultimate drama. Living in the life we live right now is all that we know of life. So the idea that we could live again, that we could experience all of life’s brilliance as well as its sadness, in another different life – feel the resonances of our previous lives in this one – is an idea that I love. And of course it’s not that far away from what we do as readers when we step inside the world of a book. Being a reader is perhaps the closest we can get to living another life in this one. Perhaps that’s also why the idea intrigued me as a writer.
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
My Second Life is being published in the US on 19 January 2016, which I’m obviously completely over the moon about. And in the meantime I’m hard at work on my second book, which is a completely new story entitled WHAT I COULDN’T TELL YOU. It will be published in June next year, so watch this space!
Are you a big reader yourself? What's your favourite book?
I love reading, of course I do, reading and writing go entirely hand in hand. Reading books, the joy of them, is what made me want to write in the first place. But I have to admit that my reading tends to slow down when I’m also writing. Whilst I’ve been working on WHAT I COULDN’T TELL YOU I’ve found it hard to read almost anything at all. It’s like my head is too stuck in the world of my own book. So I really can’t wait to get beyond the next draft and catch up with the rising pile of books next to my bed.
I’m very bad at pinning down my favourite anything… But my favourite book this year would be between (you see!) The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and The Infatuations by Javier Marias. In terms of YA I loved Sarah Crossan’s Apple and Rain.
If you could share afternoon tea with any fictional character, who would you choose?
Without doubt it would have to be the BFG.
On The Day
On the day, Faye Bird will be signing books and running a workshop Sitting on Both Sides of the Desk: Writing & agenting, novels & scripts where she will use her experience, both as a former agent for television scriptwriters and as a YA author, to inspire you to create your own characters and get them talking.
Two lucky winners can each win a signed copy of My Second Life by Faye Bird as well as a poster and some postcards. Lucky winners! The giveaway is open to UK residents.