Thursday 18 April 2013

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2013 YA UK Debut Interview: ACID by Emma Pass

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 Emma Pass whose debut YA novel, ACID, is being published by Corgi Children's Books in the UK on 25th April 2013. Read on for more:

Acid by Emma PassAcid by Emma Pass - ACID - the most brutal police force in history.
They rule with an iron fist.
They see everything. They know everything.
They locked me away for life.

My crime?
They say I murdered my parents.
I was fifteen years old.

My name is Jenna Strong.
from Goodreads.

Emma PassCan you tell us a little about yourself?

I grew up at an environmental studies centre near London, went to art school in Cornwall and now live in the North East Midlands with my husband, who's an artist. I have a day job in my local library, which means I get to work with books all day, and help out at author events. I love it!

Have you always wanted to be an author?

I loved writing stories as a kid (I used to write 'books' about a mouse called Perry, who went on picnics with his family!), but up until the age of 13, I wanted to be an artist or a musician. Then I went to see the film 'Jurassic Park'. Afterwards, I couldn't stop thinking about this abandoned island, teeming with dinosaurs, and started to write a story about it (these days, you'd call it fanfic, but the term didn't exist back then). A few days after starting this story, I suddenly thought, 'I'm going to be a writer'. It was, quite literally, a lightbulb moment. I think my 13-year-old self would have been horrified if she knew her first book wouldn't be coming out until *cough*twenty*cough* years later, though…

How did you come up with the idea for ACID?

When I was 14, a friend and I challenged each other to write a story about someone escaping from jail, who'd been locked up there by a sinister authority. I got stuck after a few chapters, but over the years, kept returning to the idea, until finally, I decided to try it as a YA novel. I'd been trying to write a contemporary YA (which wasn't working) when I got an image of a boy and a girl in my head. They were in a building, looking out of a window, and they were hiding – they were on the run. The authorities were after them, and some other people too… I started scribbling notes about who they might be and what they might be going to do, and a few hours later, I had the bare bones of the story that became ACID.

If you could describe ACID in three words, what would they be?

Dark. Thrilling. Fast-paced. (The hyphen makes that one word, right…?)

Why will readers like your main character, Jenna Strong?

She's fierce and kick-ass, and doesn't wait around for someone to save her.

What research did you have to do for ACID? Was there anything you found that surprised you?

A lot of the research I did was to do with totalitarian regimes, in order to make the worldbuilding for ACID believable. However, I did much of this research after I'd written the first draft, as I always have to write the story first to find out what I need to research. The most surprising thing was finding out how closely real-life mirrored things I'd put into the story I thought were totally made up. For example, in the book, ACID have cut off the UK's internet and replaced it with the kommweb, a kind of intranet which they control and monitor the contents of, so only ACID-approved material gets through. After I'd come up with that idea I started reading about North Korea, and found out that they have a similar system. And ACID, which stands for the Agency for Crime Investigation and Defence, were originally set up to combat rising levels of crime. The UK now has the NCA - National Crime Agency… I hope they don't go the same way as ACID!

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?

When we moved into our current house, I had visions of turning the spare room into a study, but soon realised that sitting at a desk for hours on end left me with a stiff neck, sore back and cold hands. So I moved down to the living room, and my 'study' is now the sofa. Which is great, as it's warm, comfortable, and next door to the kettle!

I nearly always have music on, as I make 'soundtracks' of songs which reflect the mood of the book I'm writing, which helps me get the words down. My only must-haves are coffee – I'm addicted! – and warm socks, as I get very cold feet when I'm sitting still!

What was most surprising to you during the writing process?

The writing process always surprises me. Solutions to plot problems that seem to appear out of nowhere, yet fit perfectly, as if they'd been there all along… characters who walk into my head fully formed (Jenna was one of those!)… It's what I love most about writing books!

How does it feel to know your book will soon be in the hands of readers?

I still can't believe it, to be honest. Even though I have my ARCs, and I've seen my first pass pages, and my cover, it STILL feels like it's happening to someone else. :)

Anything else you would like to add?

I'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone who's supported me on my journey as a writer so far – before and after ACID sold. My family, friends, colleagues, fellow writers, bloggers and book reviewers, my agent and everyone at Random House. And I'd like to give a shout-out to The Lucky 13s, authors who all have debut YA or children's books coming out in 2013. I'm so proud to be part of this incredibly talented group!

Thank you, Emma, for such a great interview! I am so looking forward to ACID, it sounds so exciting and incredibly thrilling! You can find Emma on her websiteblogTwitterFacebook author page and ACID's Amazon page.

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