Author of INK and SPARK (April 2018).
Lover of tea, naps, lipstick + the quiet life. @alicecrumbs
Why did you want to write Ink?
The idea for Ink kept rattling around in my mind wanting to be written. I’d never written fiction before (apart from stories at school) and didn’t feel up to the task, but I am so glad I gave in and got writing! I was really interested in writing about loss and faith and what stories mean to us.
How do you go about building your world(s) in a story?
I spend a lot of time daydreaming, which looks like utter laziness. Often I begin with an atmosphere or a particular sense like temperature or scent. I write down what I want the world to feel like – I’m more emotional than logical, I think. Characters matter a lot to me and I think about their inner journey before I think about plot. I’m not good at in-depth world-building: there will be all sorts of things I don’t know about the world in which Ink exists, but I know about the mood and particular scenes that need to happen. I wish I was better at planning!
Is there something you want readers to take away from Ink?
For me, a book belongs the reader – so I daren’t tell anyone what to take from Ink. But I hope it’s a book that offers space for the reader to think and permission for them to be fully themselves.
What was your favourite myth growing up?
Gosh, LOTS! I was given a book of myths and legends when I was 7 and it fed my imagination! I loved the Isis and Osiris story, which is retold in Ink and I’ve always been drawn to the tale of Persephone in the underworld.
Do you think that society still has expectations for looks and behaviour in children and teenagers?
Oh always! I’m one of those people who has vivid memories of what it was like for me to be 8 or 18 and I think that as adults we can so easily project our own childhood experience onto young people, in the hope that it helps us to relate. It’s much easier to do that than to actually listen to what individual young people think or feel. There is more pressure than ever on children and teens to achieve brilliant things academically and to be super well-balanced and confident and have a million mates and hobbies and skills – but it’s hard enough just getting through puberty!
Follow up, does this carry into adulthood or do we grow out of it?
I suspect that wherever humans exist we will find our differences more disconcerting than delightful. But I hope that as we get older there is greater space for kindness and freedom – and the people with those values are the people to share life with.
When you were growing up where did you find the books you wanted/needed?
I’m fortunate to have grown up in a house with a lot of books and I always saw my Mum reading. I read whatever I could find on the shelf, but always resisted reading anything that was recommended to me – I was a bit contrary. I relied on gifts, the school library and friends who also loved reading. Being given a book token for a birthday was the dream.
Tell us something about yourself that not many people know:
I trained to be a signing tutor for a type of sign language designed for people with learning disabilities and communication difficulties.
Which character in Ink is closest to you?
I relate a lot to Leora – I was (and probably still am) similarly unconfident and yet desperate to find something I could shine in and a place to belong.
I’m giving you a free platform to talk about anything – GO:
I wish more people would read ‘Health At Every Size’ by Linda Bacon, or at least dig deeper into understanding fatness and the myth that diets work. I’m excited to read Bethany Rutter’s fat positive Young Adult novel in 2019 and love that I’ve recently been reading more lovely fat characters in YA.
Tea or coffee?
Tea. Always tea.
Finally, what is the question you wish people would ask and never do?
I’d love to talk about lipstick, loss of faith and my latest netflix addictions.
Every action, every deed, every significant moment is tattooed on your skin for ever. When Leora’s father dies, she is determined to see her father remembered forever. She knows he deserves to have all his tattoos removed and made into a Skin Book to stand as a record of his good life. But when she discovers that his ink has been edited and his book is incomplete, she wonders whether she ever knew him at all.