As part of the ProjectUKYA Blog Tour I’m happy to welcome James Dawson to Luna’s Little Library.
James Dawson is the award-nominated author of dark teen thrillers HOLLOW PIKE and CRUEL SUMMER (Indigo – Aug 2013). He grew up in West Yorkshire, writing imaginary episodes of Doctor Who. He later turned his talent to journalism, interviewing luminaries such as Steps and Atomic Kitten before writing a weekly serial in a Brighton newspaper.
Until recently, James worked as a teacher, specialising in PSHCE and behaviour. He is most proud of his work surrounding bullying and family diversity. This autumn, his first non-fiction book, BEING A BOY (Red Lemon) will tackle puberty, sex and relationships in a frank and funny fashion.
James writes full time and lives in South London. In his spare time, he STILL loves Doctor Who and is a keen follower of horror films and connoisseur of pop music.
The praise for Hollow Pike was high (I know I loved it), did that make Cruel Summer easier or harder to write?
You do feel a responsibility to the reader, at least I do. I was very lucky with the reviews for Hollow Pike and so obviously I worried reviewers might take delight in tearing Cruel Summer to shreds. I was also aware that they are very different beasts in terms of atmosphere and character. That said, you can only ever write a book that you would enjoy and just hope that other people enjoy it too.
If you could only pick one; which of your books would you recommend someone to read and why?
That’s like asking a mother to chose between babies! I guess if I was being altruistic I would say the non-fiction one, Being A Boy, simply because that might genuinely help some young people come to terms with puberty and sex. With the fiction, they’re so different: if someone liked supernatural mystery I would recommend Hollow Pike, if they liked a traditional murder mystery I would say Cruel Summer!
Which character (pick any of your books) is closest to you?
I’m a total blend of Jack in Hollow Pike and Ryan in Cruel Summer. Jack is my good side and Ryan is my darker side. However, all of my characters have a little of my DNA in them – how could they not?
What do you think are the differences between UK and US YA?
Aside from marketing spend, not a lot! US publishers spend so much on promoting a big new title that they tend to annihilate the UK competition. There’s so much YA out there now – some of it is breathtaking, innovative and exciting and some of it is pretty derivative. That’s the nature of the beast – once something takes off in the way that Twilight or The Hunger Games did, it was inevitable there would be thousands of rip-offs. I don’t think it matters what nationality the author is.
First time you saw one of your books in a bookshop, what did you do?
I cried. Not ugly snot crying, a beautiful diamond-cheek tear like Blair in Gossip Girl. It’s such a singular feeling – I still have to pinch myself. Three years ago I was a primary school teacher in Starbucks telling my doubtful friends about this idea I’d had about some witches….
Tell us something about yourself that not many people know?
Why is it when people ask me these kinds of questions I can only think of really rude answers? Instead I shall go for I have never seen a single episode of Supernatural, Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, 24 or The West Wing. Sue me.
What’s the scariest thing about being a writer?
That it all might end. I have, in all seriousness, the best job in the world. I get to tell stories, make things up that I love, and get paid for it. Now that I’ve tasted that, I live in terror of someone taking it all away. I was on a panel with Elizabeth Wein at Leakycon and she assures me that all writers feel that way!
And the best?
Like I said, I’m making up stories. My imagination is my income. How amazing is that?
If you could, what would you want to ask your readers?
Why aren’t you doing little Tumblr pictures of my characters making out yet? I live for that stuff! Also, honestly, do you prefer standalones or series?
Next May sees the release of SAY HER NAME, which I can’t wait for! It’s really, really scary. I was challenged to write a contemporary ghost story so I’ve adapted the legend of Bloody Mary. I think it’s gonna be huge. Well, I hope it is, anyway!
Luna: When I saw this on Goodreads I had a bit of a fan-girl moment, because how cool does this sound?!
Roberta ‘Bobbie’ Rowe is not the kind of person who believes in ghosts. A Halloween dare at her ridiculously spooky boarding school is no big deal, especially when her best friend Naya and cute local boy Caine agree to join in too. They are ordered to summon the legendary ghost of ‘Bloody Mary’: say her name five times in front of a candlelit mirror, and she shall appear… But, surprise surprise, nothing happens. Or does it?
Next morning, Bobbie finds a message on her bathroom mirror… five days… but what does it mean? And who left it there? Things get increasingly weird and more terrifying for Bobbie and Naya, until it becomes all too clear that Bloody Mary was indeed called from the afterlife that night, and she is definitely not a friendly ghost. Bobbie, Naya and Caine are now in a race against time before their five days are up and Mary comes for them, as she has come for countless others before… A truly spine-chilling yet witty horror from shortlisted ‘Queen of Teen’ author James Dawson.
Tea or coffee?
Tea. Coffee gives me the shits.
Best Dr Who character/moment?
Old series – Peri’s transformation into Lord Kiv. New series – Donna and the Doctor reuniting through the window.
The last book you read?
Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places. So good, I think she’s my favourite non-YA author.
One thing you couldn’t write without?
The internet. Fact checking as you go!
You can have one superpower, what would you like?
Shape-shifting a la Mystique.
What word describes you best?
You’re at the airport with a free pass to get on any plane – where would you go?
New York. Concrete jungle where dreams are made of.
Biggest highlight since being published?
Oh so many, but a few spring to mind: The Queen of Teen ceremony, Leakycon 2013, meeting Philip Pullman and Malorie Blackman, appearing on BBC Woman’s Hour, each time you see a new cover… the list goes on and on!
And finally, what is the question you wish people would ask and never do?
What’s your favourite K-Pop song? I could talk about that all day and all night.
Luna: I had to ask & this is it:
Giveaway for Cruel Summer
Just enter HERE
Congratulations Katharine Kelly!
You are the winner of Cruel Summer.
Please email me your address details lunaslittlelibrary (at) gmail (dot) com & I will arrange for the book to be sent to you.