The Booktopia Book Guru asks
author of the Evernight series
Ten Terrifying Questions
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
Born in Mississippi in the United States, which is in the deep, deep South. I lived in the same town from age 5 to age 18, but since then I’ve lived all over, including New Orleans, New York and Chicago.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
Honestly, at 12, I pretty much wanted to be a lawyer, journalist or writer. At 18, I wanted to be a journalist and started out as a journalism major. At 30, I had already been a lawyer, was a journalist and was starting to think about being a writer. So I eventually did all three!
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
I’m honestly not sure. There are plenty of things I was wrong about at 18 (how much journalism pays, for instance) and certainly I’ve learned a lot more about myself as a person since that time. But in terms of my fundamental beliefs, I don’t know that that much has changed. I know that I’m more tolerant in many ways, and definitely more aware of and uncomfortable with the intolerance within myself I have to struggle against.
4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?
If I were going to pick three events, I guess I’d go with these:
(A) Reading GONE WITH THE WIND when I was 10. This is a book I have a complicated relationship now — the racism is off the scale, and the pro-Confederate mythos is as sticky as it is ahistorical. However, if you wanted to find the absolutely most perfectly structured blockbuster novel, you would have to choose GWTW. I learned a lot about narrative from that book, and continue to learn from it.
(B) Doing the course outlined in THE ARTIST’S WAY by Julia Cameron. This is a self-help classic, which is about “unblocking” creativity and making your creative pursuits a priority in your life. Although it’s New Agey as all get-out, and I rolled my eyes sometimes, I did the whole thing. When I started, I hadn’t written a word in three years. I haven’t stopped writing since I got finished.
(C) Thinking up my first novel-length fanfiction. That’s right, I said fanfiction. Writing that didn’t teach me everything I needed to know about writing by a long shot — but when I came up with that story, it was the first time that I knew I had a novel-length plot on my hands, how to structure a long story and come up with a meaningful climax at the end. It was a major breakthrough in my creative thinking.
5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? aren’t they obsolete?
If books are obsolete, what does that make a Book Guru? (BBGuru: A museum piece?)
AFTERLIFE is the fourth book in the EVERNIGHT series, and the conclusion of the love story of Bianca and Lucas. At the end of book three, HOURGLASS, each of them was forced to face their greatest nightmare; now they have to find a way to carry on.
One of them is going to find out that the nightmare is actually a blessing in disguise; the other is going to find it so much more horrible than they ever realized. All those lingering plot threads and mysteries in the series are going to be wrapped up, so you want to check it out!
7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?
I would be extremely surprised if anything in my work changed the world. But I have had many young readers say that the EVERNIGHT series inspired them to want to become writers, which is something that gives me tremendous pleasure and pride.
I don’t know if I have a single individual that I would say I most admire or emulate.
9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
I keep resetting my goals as I accomplish old ones. Right now, my goal is to launch my next series for young adults (SPELLCASTER) and branch out into writing romantic suspense for adults.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
The three main things I tell aspiring writers:
(A) Read everything you can get your hands on. You wouldn’t believe how many people want to write a book but rarely read them. Reading teaches you more about story and narrative than anything else can.
(B) Write as often as you possibly can. I’m not one who has to write every day, so I can’t tell others to, but you must write regularly enough to make a lot of progress and to get to know yourself as a writer.
(C) Once you’ve gotten to the point where you’re thinking about getting published, be sure to get out there and educate yourself about the industry. There are predatory elements out there who will take advantage of those who don’t know how the publishing business should work. Follow good writing resources and agent blogs online. When you have a story, poem or manuscript you’re proud of and want to send out into the world, you want to be able to get it into the right hands.
Claudia, thank you for playing.
You can follow Claudia Gray on Twitter – here
About the Contributor
John Purcell (aka Natasha Walker) is the author of The Secret Lives of Emma trilogy published by Random House Australia. The Secret Lives of Emma: Beginnings reached the top ten on the Australian fiction charts and Natasha/John was the tenth highest selling Australian novelist and third highest selling Australian debut author in 2012. The trilogy has since sold over 50,000 copies in print and ebook and has been translated into French and Polish. John has worked in the book industry for the last twenty years. While still in his twenties he opened John’s Bookshop, a second-hand bookshop in Mosman in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Now he is the Head of Product and Chief Buyer at booktopia.com.au.