Saturday, August 2, 2014

Interview with YA author Caroline Healy

Caroline Healy is an award winning writer of literary and Young Adult Fiction her new book Blood Entwines is published by Bloomsbury as part of the Spark Imprint this August. Blood Entwines is the story of Kara Bailey who receives a blood transfusion after an accident and finds that her senses are heightened and she has a new found strength. At school she is drawn to a dark stranger and it seems that they are connected through the blood they share. You can find out more about Caroline at her website Caroline Healy. Caroline kindly consented to answer some questions about her reading and writing life.

1. Your favourite childhood books/authors and why?

I don't have a favourite children's book but I do have fond memories of my mum reading stories to me at bedtime and it was magical. I was an avid reader and used the local library religiously. Over summer holidays I would max out my card. I read everything in the children's section and I remember the first book I borrowed from the teen section. I borrowed a copy of Little Women,devouring stories Jo and all her sisters. It was my first reading experience of bigger issues, characters with flaws, put into real life situations...contemporary y.a. Fiction (well kinda contemporary). From this point onwards I was hooked! 
2. What did you read as a teenager how influential were your teachers/parents/authors you read?

My mum read to me every night as a child. She drove me to the library and waited patiently as I pored over every book. She was very supportive. When I went to secondary school my English teacher introduced me to Tolkien and The Hobbit. She also put the classics on the syllabus.  It was here that my love of English literature took root. I read everything as a teenager and when I went to University College Cork I studied English, linguistics, American literature, screenwriting, women's fiction, science fiction, I studied and read whatever I could get my hands on. It was fantastic. 

3. Have you always wanted to write? 

No. I always wanted to read. I wanted to read every story, explore every world on the pages of books. I've always dabbled in writing. I've kept a journal since I was young, I started a few projects on summer holidays from school but nothing ever got finished. Then I started to work in the arts, dance projects, creative collaborations with different disciplines, visual arts, music, photography and this sparked my own artistic practice. I got an idea one day and almost as a personal challenge I wanted to see if I could do it. The first draft of Blood Entwines came about but it was a disaster. So I went back to college to get a proper grounding, to learn about writing and the craft itself. 

4. When did you decide to sit down and take writing seriously?

 After I finished the first draft of Blood Entwines, I realised I had a full draft -  that I had written a complete book...I mean it was a disaster, so full of plot holes and inaccuracies. I had no idea what to do next but I knew that i wanted to keep going. I knew that I had finally found something that I loved doing. I've have had a number of jobs and never felt at home...this, to me, was like coming home. 

5. What did you study at University and what new influences did you discover?

I studied English literature and archaeology at university. I read Dion Bouccicoult and Isaac Asimov, Beowulf and Virginia Woolfe, Joyce, Irvine Walsh, Edna OBrien, Frederick Douglas and Walt Whitman ...It was like a literary awakening, a full blown assault on my senses, and it was great. 

6. How much is your writing informed by your own teenage years?

 Not much really. I work with teenagers in my job so I think that my writing is influenced most by that. I remember the strength of emotions from my teenage years so sometimes for my writing I draw on these. I read a lot of y.a. books now so I think I mix my imagination, my reading, my memories and my first hand experience working with young people to influence my work.

7. What writing advice would you give to an aspiring writer now?

Don't give up. Join a writing group. Read read read! 
8. What are the last three great books you read? 

Eleanor and Park, Wonder, Game of Thrones. 

9. If you could only read one author for the rest of your life, who would you choose? 

That is a really difficult question...I think it would be Austen. She is so great at character and commentary. She is witty and smart and a feminist, even though she wrote in the 19th century. 

10. What are you working on now?

I've just finished the next book in the series and I'm in the planning stage of a new contemporary Y.A. book which I am very excited about. 

11. Do you have a typical writing day? and any habits or quirks (such as a special pen or a room of your own?)

I write in some big bursts...I plan and sketch out, think about my characters then when I feel the I feel the pressure of the book, like I can't think of it anymore I physically have to write it out...I begin...I sit every day for a couple of hours a day and I will write, every day, till the first draft is finished. Then I can't look at the project for a week or so. When I recover from the marathon of writing I get into the editing zone and edit and edit and edit till its done. Then I don't write anything for a few months. But I read all the time. If I'm writing contemporary or children's or adults I will not read that genre while I write I case the voice or style of the book leaks over into mine. So if I'm writing  Y.A.  contemporary I will read classics or high fantasy or crime thriller. Helps keep the two things separate.

12. Do you plan very carefully or just fly by the seat of your pants?

Depends on the project. I rough plan content for chapters, major points in the story then I go from there. It's exciting to see what your characters will do.

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