All over the world, Patrick Ness fans are waiting for May 1
the release date for the eagerly anticipated finale to Patrick’s
Chaos Walking series,
Monsters of Men
What better time to put
Ten Terrifying Questions
to wunderkind author, Patrick Ness.
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
I was born in Virginia, lived in Hawaii as a small child, but mostly schooled in the state of Washington in the northwest of the US. College at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, so I’m pretty much a westerner, which does influence my writing.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
At twelve I wanted to be a plastic surgeon for no other reason than I had a terrible crush on a plastic surgeon on television. At eighteen, a film-maker, I even applied (and got accepted to) film school at USC, mainly because I didn’t think writing was a possible career. I did change my mind soon after and stuck to writing. At thirty, well, who says I’m already thirty? Let’s just say that at thirty, I have/had the best job in the world already, why would I want to do anything different?
That I’d never, and I mean never, have short hair. Now I’ve got barely more than a crew cut and know to never say never about any kind of fashion. The one thing you deny the most is the thing you’ll always do five years later.
4. What were three works of art – book, painting, piece of music – that you can now say had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?
Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey, because of how all his books, but especially this one, suggest a huge imagined world that the story is only a tiny slice of. I love when books do that, and I try to do that in mine. Map of the Problematique by Muse, which is the theme song to The Knife of Never Letting Go, because it had exactly the energy I wanted to put down on the page and I thought, “If I can capture that…” And probably Middlemarch by George Eliot, which is a novel that just contains the whole world inside.
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
Easy: you’re the god of everything in a novel. I think all writers are essentially power-hungry and want to be in complete control. Seriously, though, it suits my temperament; I love working for myself. Plus, it’s the most rewarding artistic avenue I’ve found, the one that gives me the most freedom. Really, though, it’s because I can’t sing for toffee.
6. Please tell us about your latest novel.
Monsters of Men is the final volume of the Chaos Walking trilogy (following The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and the Answer). In it, Todd and Viola find themselves at the crux of a very unexpected war. Things don’t go (at all) how you’d expect, and it’s got an absolutely killer ending. I can’t wait until it comes out to hear what readers think.
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
I’m really happy with whatever they find. I’d never want to impose on them, just take a little bit of their time and tell them a story about things that concern me. If they agree, great, if they don’t, that’s fine, too. it’s the conversation that’s important.
8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?
Probably Peter Carey again, for marching so much to his own drummer. I’m also quite possibly Nicola Barker’s biggest fan. These are people who it really feels like they write because they have to, and that’s the best way, I think.
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
My goals are all private, actually. I like keeping them quiet. Loud, shouty goals are too much pressure, I think. Best just to keep my head down and quietly work towards them, I think.
1. Call yourself a writer when people ask what you do (it’s important)
2. Find time to write every day.
These are both far, far harder than you think they are, but they’re the most important things you’ll do.
Fear and panic in the air
I want to be free
From desolation and despair
And I feel like everything I sew
Is being swept away
When I refuse to let you go
(Lyrics by Muse)