Today sees the release of ACID, Emma Pass’s debut YA novel (Random House). I spoke to fellow hound-minion Emma a couple of weeks ago and she kindly submitted to interrogation about all things bookish.
I grew up near London, went to art college in Cornwall, and now live in the north-east Midlands with my husband and a VERY spoiled greyhound called G-Dog*. I work part-time in a library, which is brilliant as I get to feed my book habit all day long!
2. Your first novel, ACID, is released on April 25th. Could you please tell us a little bit about the book – no spoilers!
It’s set 100 years in the future, and the UK has become a Big Brother-style society after being taken over by ACID (the Agency for Crime Investigation and Defence), who are the most brutal police force in the world. When she was fifteen, the main character, Jenna Strong, was locked up by ACID for a terrible crime. At the start of the book, she’s broken out by a mysterious rebel group, then ends up on the run and has to find out the truth about what happened two years earlier…
3. How have you developed your characters? Do you have a favourite character?
My process for character development is pretty organic. It usually starts with a name; then I make a few notes, and gradually get to know the character throughout the first and subsequent drafts. In ACID, I think my favourite character has to be Jenna! It’s the first book I’ve written with a female MC, and I’m really happy she turned out to be so kick-ass.
4. What is your favourite part of writing? Which parts do you find easy? Is there any particular aspect of writing that you struggle with, and how have you overcome it?
I wouldn’t say there’s any particular aspect of writing I find easy – it’s always challenging, but that’s why I enjoy it! My favourite part of writing is editing. I always struggle with first drafts, because I know they’re not going to be any good, and trying to ignore my inner editor and get to the end regardless is hard! But I know if I don’t plough on and get my first draft down, there will be nothing to edit, so that keeps me going.
5. What made you want to be a writer? What were your favourite books growing up?
I always wrote stories when I was a kid, but it wasn’t until I was 13 that I realised this was what I wanted to do with my life. I’d been to see the film Jurassic Park, and afterwards, I couldn’t stop thinking about this abandoned island, teeming with dinosaurs… I started writing a sequel (I guess you’d call it fanfiction these days, but that didn’t exist back then!), and a few months later, I had my first ‘novel’ (all 175 pages of it). It was so exciting!
My favourite books growing up? Hmm… there were so many! I loved Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl, and anything spooky. Ann Pilling was always a favourite author of mine because she pulled no punches with her writing. I also devoured the Chalet School**, Sweet Valley High and Point Horror books, and loved L.M. Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon series. When I hit my teenage years, I discovered Stephen King, and have been a huge fan ever since.
6. What drew you to writing YA in particular?
I’d tried everything – and I mean everything – else, and nothing had worked. Quite by chance, I ended up going on a weekend course run by a YA author, and read some of her books beforehand to get some inspiration. The course was great, and so were her books. So I started reading other YA titles… and then it occurred to me to try writing the literary adult novel I’d been struggling with (which, coincidentally, had three teenage characters in it) as a YA novel. It was the first story I managed to finish since the Jurassic Park fanfic thing, and although it was terrible, I was knew this was the genre for me.
7. Has working in a library been an inspiration to you? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Working in a library is brilliant. Everyone is supportive, and I get to attend and help out at all sorts of writing and author-related events, which are very inspiring indeed. I actually got the idea for my second novel, which is out next year, from a workshop at a library conference! Inspiration can come from anywhere, really, though – pictures, news articles, overheard conversations, random things that pop into my head. I think the trick is to be open to the possibility of making a story out of anything!
8. Could you tell us a bit more about the Lucky 13’s? How did the group come together and how has promoting your books in a group helped you all out?
The Lucky 13s are an incredible group, and I’m so lucky to be part of it (no pun intended!). The author who founded them contacted me via Twitter – I was one of the first to join, and it’s incredible to see how the blog has grown since then. It makes such a difference having other authors to talk to who are at the same stage in their careers as you, and can share all the highs and lows. And it’s been a great platform for promotion, because so many people read and follow the blog.
9. Can you share some of your favourite books and movies of the last few years?
How long have you got?! 😀
Books: The Passage and The Twelve by Justin Cronin, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, Pure by Julianna Baggott, Oblivion by Anthony Horowitz… I could go on and on!
Movies: Source Code, Arrietty, This is England (not that recent but I LOVE it), The Hunger Games.
10. What are your plans for your next book?
I’m in the middle of editing it as we speak! It’s a post-apocalyptic YA with leanings towards horror, and I have about 7 weeks left to get this draft finished. Sleep is overrated, right? ;)***
I’ve always said sleep is for wimps 😉 Congrats to Emma and you can pick up a copy of ACID right now from your local or online bookshop – which is what I’m just about to do, and I’ll review it here in the coming weeks.
http://emmapass.blogspot.co.uk/ – Emma’s blog – where you can read the first chapter of ACID for free!
Add ACID on Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13062484-acid
*All greyhounds are spoilt – it’s a fact of life.
**Me too, I had about 20 Chalet School books when I was growing up.
*** Lyra thinks MY sleep is overrated and I don’t need it, whereas HER sleep is important and not to be interrupted except for food….