I knew I wanted to write about a boy who's led an uneasy life

from a conversation with Kevin Brooks
Q: Where did the idea for Lucas come from?
A: The island where Lucas is set is loosely based on a small island off the coast of Essex, not too far from where I live. I used to visit this island quite a lot, and I always thought its barren sands and mud flats and its isolated atmosphere would make a good setting for a story. I kept this idea in my head for a long time, and I carried on thinking about what kind of story would work in such a setting ... until eventually I came up with the idea of Lucas.

Q: Lucas raises so many issues that are so prevalent in the world right now, especially in regards to how fear can shape a society, and how courage must counterbalance fear. What meaning do you want readers to take from this?
A: I'm not sure I want readers to take any specific meaning from anything I write, but if I can write about stuff in a way that allows them to think about things — if they want to — then that's great. Looking for meanings can be a tricky thing, and it doesn't always help in the long run, so I generally prefer to just look at things.

Q: Readers are always a little surprised when male writers write compelling female characters. What was it like for you to get into Caitlin's head? Was it different than it was for a male character, like Martyn Pig?
A: Getting inside a character's head is a big part of what my writing is all about, and I always spend a lot of time getting to know my characters before I start writing about them. What this means, basically, is trying to imagine - with as much intensity as possible - how it would feel to be someone else. Whether this 'someone else' is male or female doesn't really matter - what's important is bringing them to life. So, although writing from Caitlin's point of view was totally different than writing from Martyn Pig's point of view, the process — and the enjoyment — were pretty much the same.

Q: What advice do you have for younger writers?
A: Two things, really: 1) Keep writing, and try to write what you want to write. And 2) Read as much as you can, and try to read what you want to read. Reading is the best way to learn how to write, and the more you enjoy it, the more you'll learn.

Q: Your new hardcover, Kissing the Rain, has just been published. What's next?
A: I've just finished my fourth book, a story about love and intoxication, called Candy, and I'm currently working on the screenplay for a film of Martyn Pig. When that's done I'll be starting work on book number five.

Q: What do you do when you're not writing?
A: Sleep, read, think, hang around, watch TV, play chess (badly), play guitar, walk the dog. At the moment, though, I'm spending most of my time chasing after our brand-new crazy-legged puppy, trying to stop it destroying the house.

Q: What's one thing your readers might not know about you which you think they might be interested to know?
A: I collect plastic hyenas and sheriffs' badges.

For more conversations with Kevin Brooks, click here.