We all like supporting YA and New Adult debut authors, but this year, rather than just read their books, I'll be highlighting them on my blog too, so you can hear about these wonderful authors.
Today I'm interviewing UKYA author, C.J. Flood, whose debut YA novel, Infinite Sky, is being published by Simon and Schuster Children's Books in the UK on 14th February 2013. Read on to find out more about Infinite Sky:
Infinite Sky by C.J. Flood - Iris Dancy’s free-spirited mum has left for Tunisia, her dad’s rarely sober and her brother’s determined to fight anyone with a pair of fists.
When a family of travellers move into the overgrown paddock overnight, her dad looks set to finally lose it. Gypsies are parasites he says, but Iris is intrigued. As her dad plans to evict the travelling family, Iris makes friends with their teenage son. Trick Deran is a bare knuckle boxer who says he’s done with fighting, but is he telling the truth?
When tools go missing from the shed, the travellers are the first suspects. Iris’s brother, Sam, warns her to stay away from Trick; he’s dangerous, but Iris can no longer blindly follow her brother’s advice. He’s got secrets of his own, and she’s not sure he can be trusted himself.
Infinite Sky is a family story about betrayal and loyalty, and love. from Goodreads.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Chelsey Flood. I’m 29, and I live in Bristol. I love playing table tennis and sleeping. I am obsessed with America and Russia, though I have never been to either. I am soppy over animals, and anthropomorphise them to mad extents. I cry easily at films, but rarely in actual life. I have never had any other careers except writing.
Have you always wanted to be an author?
Of course! What else could I possibly do with my skill set?
How did you come up with the idea for Infinite Sky?
It started as a sort of mystery. My main character, Iris’s mother had left, and Iris was trying to find out where she was, and why she’d abandoned her, what sort of person she was. It was bad though. I don’t know why. I could write okay short stories then, but my attempts at novels were terrible! I just didn’t know how to tell a story. It was all character studies, which meandered into nothing.
Then I started an MA in Creative Writing at UEA, and started again, keeping Iris as a sort of idealised teen me. This time, it was more like creative non-fiction. I wrote about my childhood and my parents splitting up and my relationship with my brother. I loved my childhood. I grew up on this ramshackle old farm, which was different to everyone else’s house, and I had so much freedom. I haven’t been able to forget it.
But, after months of writing, people were still saying, Yes, but what’s it about? I had no idea. Finally, I came up with the idea of a family of travellers moving into the paddock, and the conflict that would trigger. I knew from that point on, that unless something terrible happened to me before I had chance, I would finish this novel.
If you could describe Infinite Sky in three words, what would they be?
Perfect summer read.
Why will readers like your main character, Iris?
She is very open to the world, and not judgemental – or not in the way those around her are. She thinks for herself, sees the best in people and is keen for adventure.
What research did you have to do for Infinite Sky? Was there anything you found that surprised you?
The most research went into creating the family of Irish Travellers. Not too much comes across in the story, as it’s not especially relevant. But lots of stuff surprised me. Before I wrote the book, I hadn’t met many travellers, and I didn’t know much about the culture at all. I didn’t know anything about bare knuckle boxing, or its history. Interested people, after reading my book, should watch ‘Knuckle’, a film made over twelve years about this traveller tradition. Also, there’s apparently to be a HBO series, written by Irvine Welsh, appearing soon, which makes me very excited.
Tell us about how you write; do you write in a particular place? Do you have any music playing? Do you have any must-haves with you while writing?
These days I write at Bristol Central library. At my house I end up listening to music or playing the guitar or just giving in and having a nap. The library is a bit cold and uncomfortable, which is ideal, and I like the feeling of all that human endeavour going on around me. I take a flask of tea, which I drink within the first five minutes and then mourn the loss of, and that’s about it. Only must-haves are quiet and a notebook. And study cards if I’m planning. I love them.
What was most surprising to you during the writing process?
That I still didn’t know what was going to happen right up until the very end. I wrote three different endings for the book.
How does it feel to know your book will soon be in the hands of readers?
It’s getting more and more exciting. I think it’s a bit like the last day of holiday. You sort of don’t want to think about it, because you’re having a nice time, and you’re not ready for the next stage, and then the last day arrives and you just want to get on with the packing and get home. You are suddenly desperate for the next stage. It’s getting like that with my book. I just want it to be out there, to know what people think.
Anything else you would like to add?
Yes. Anyone who is ever moved by a book whose author is living, write to them and tell them so! (In other words, write to me. I dream of getting author letters. I promise I will write back.)
Thank you, C.J., for such a great interview! Doesn't this sound just SO intriguing?! You can find C.J. on her blog, on the Lucky 13s blog, Twitter and on Goodreads.