Sunday 25 August 2013

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2013 UKYA Debut Author Interview: Soulmates by Holly Bourne

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 Holly Bourne whose debut YA novel, Soulmates, is being published by Usborne in the UK on 1st September 2013. Read on for more:

Soulmates by Holly BourneSoulmates by Holly Bourne - Every so often, two people are born who are the perfect matches for each other. Soulmates. But while the odds of this happening are about as likely as being struck by lightning, when these people do meet and fall in love…thunderstorms, lightning strikes and lashings of rain are only the beginning of their problems.

Enter Poppy, the 17-year-old cynic with a serious addiction to banana milk, and Noah, the heart-throb guitarist; residents of mediocre Middletown, sometime students, and…soulmates.

After a chance meeting at a local band night, Poppy and Noah find themselves swept up in a whirlwind romance unlike anything they’ve ever experienced before. But with a secret international agency preparing to separate them, a trail of destruction rumbling in their wake, (and a looming psychology coursework deadline), they are left with an impossible choice between the end of the world, or a life without love…
from Goodreads.

Holly BourneCan you tell us a little about yourself?

I spend both my days and my evenings writing for young adults. I work as a journalist for a charity-run website,, which offers advice and information to 16-25 year-olds. I also help moderate TheSite’s community boards, focusing mostly on relationship problems. I love using words to help people – it’s the best job ever.

Before that I was a news reporter for two years where I started writing Soulmates around my deadlines.

When I’m not writing, I’m either spouting off a feminism-related rant, reading every book I can get my grubby hands on, or drinking red wine and singing Alice Cooper VERY loudly with friends.

Have you always wanted to be an author?

A million times YES, all through childhood, but I never dreamt it would ever happen. It’s like wanting to be a professional footballer or an astronaut or something. I was depressed about not being a writer it for a while, until I realised WRITING AN ACTUAL BOOK would be a good place to start. So I started writing.

How did you come up with the idea for Soulmates?

I found the insane success of Twilight, and all the ‘dark romance’ books that followed it really intriguing. Why are we so obsessed with forbidden love, and happily-ever-afters and all these other things we strive for in our romantic lives when it so rarely mirrors the reality of relationships? I adore romance novels but also believe maybe we’ve been narratively short-changed. So I decided to explore the most romantic of all concepts, Soulmates, and make finding yours the worst thing that could ever happen to you.

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

Soulmates are dangerous

Why will readers like Poppy and Noah?

Ha ha – you might not! I tried very hard to make Poppy ‘real’ and with that come flaws. But she’s feisty, cynical as hell, and fights for what she feels is right. She goes on a real journey through Soulmates and I hope that readers enjoy watching her grow.

As for Noah, well... if you fancy slightly-cocky guitarists with a hidden romantic streak (who doesn’t?) then prepare for a new fictional crush.

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

I spent a lot of time researching love, and most specifically, the science behind love. What happens to the body when you fall in love with someone? What chemicals and hormones are released? I had to find all this out to stand up the plot and make my concept plausible. This process was absolutely fascinating – love has such a profound scientific effect on the body. And yet it was also pretty depressing! Love itself is such a romantic and gorgeous thing, and it gets somewhat soiled as an ideal when you can reduce it down to biological equations.

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?

Must haves – Peace and Quiet. I am in awe of writers who can write with music on, or in a coffee shop. I am the most anti-social author ever. I need my flat nice and empty and to be left the heck alone. I am enough of a distraction to myself as it is (Twitter is the downfall of author productivity).

What was most surprising to you during the writing process?

It sounds stupid, but it’s a miracle to me that if you put word after word, like footsteps, day after day, onto a computer, eventually a book is made. When you read a book, you’re just whizzing through one big hunk of a story. But, when it’s you who’s written it, it’s a build up of literary chicken nuggets. Bits upon bits of writing you bashed out in dribs and drabs over many fragmented months. Reading your own book back for the first time, as a whole, and seeing the story come together, is the most surreal experience ever, and that really surprised me.

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

They say that ‘excitement’ and ‘nervousness’ are the same thing, it’s just what label you choose to put on the symptoms. I have ALL the symptoms, so maybe a bit of both? Half of me is hopping up and down, counting the days until people can read my story and hopefully laugh and cry and like it. The other half is a gibbering wreck as I have no control over what people make of it, or how they read it.

Thank you, Holly, for such a great interview! Isn't Holly just awesome? I love how honest she is about being surprised that word after word will create a book! And I find all the sciencey stuff in the book so interesting, but also depressing. My review will be coming soon. You can find Holly on her website, Twitter, Facebook and you can buy Soulmates on Amazon.