Q: So where'd you grow up? What was
A: I grew up in a scummy little
ex-mining town called Coalville, which
was an unrelentingly dreary doomscape
of grey skies and miserable people (imagine
Mordor, but with more trees). I did my
best to get away from it as early as possible.
Most of my teens were spent in and around
Leicestershire towns, and the city itself,
doing the usual teen stuff and being crafty
enough not to get caught for it. It was
more fun when everything was illegal...
Q: Where did the idea for CRASHING
come from? How much do you identify with
A: Crashing basically came out
of a comment one of my friends made just
before we all left for various universities.
It went along the lines of: 'People change,
who knows if we'll be friends next year?'
I didn't want us all to lose contact,
but I knew he was probably right, so I
wrote the book to exorcise that paranoia. It
was a control thing, I guess. Didn't work,
though. None of us really speak any more,
which is a shame.
Q: Do you think it's possible for friendships
to stick together even as the friends'
lives change? Is Jay's hope to keep everyone
together a lost cause?
A: Haha! I'd like to think so. Though
it's rarely been the case in my experience,
I know a few groups of people who've been
friends since childhood. As to Jay, well,
you'll have to draw your own conclusions
on that one!
Q: Where did Kerosene come
A: I used to have 'Cal days' back
then when I was just too low to meet anyone's
eye in the street and so on, so the protagonist
grew out of that. People tell me they
really identify with Cal's shyness, which
is good. I certainly do.
Q: So, you were a published author
at nineteen. What's that like?
A: It was brilliant, obviously,
but more because I had finally achieved
what I'd been trying for all my life up
till then. I had a frighteningly sharp
focus on what I wanted to do and be ever
since I can remember. Plus I was at University
at the time, and there was finally post-University
light at the end of the tunnel that didn't
involve me joining a bunch of faceless
suits in an office block. I made it my
mission from then on to become a full-time
writer. It was kind of a squeeze at first,
but I think I've pretty much got it down
Q: If you sat down to write
do you think it would be a different book,
since you're more removed from high school?
Do you still want to burn it down?
A: Yeah, there's no way I'd write
the same book now. It was very much a
product of that part of my life which
has long gone now. I don't really care
enough about school to want to burn it
down... but I don't think I ever want
to set foot in one again either. Urggh...
Q: What are your literary influences?
A: Lots. I don't really follow
authors religiously: even the best authors
sometimes churn out duff books, and the
worst ones occasionally come up with blinders.
I do like particularly inventive fantasists
though, like China Mieville and Philip
Pullman. I mainly read fantasy and sci-fi;
there's so much formulaic stuff there,
but when you get a good one it's generally
Q: What are your musical influences?
A: Not anything most people have
heard of!!! I like a bunch of different
stuff for different reasons; Last Days
Of April, Bodyjar, Crash Tokio, Mega City
Four, Thrice, Jimmy Eat World, Broccoli,
Leatherface, etc etc. There are also a
load of awesome British bands who play
round the UK, who are unjustly neglected
by the world in general...
Q: You play music as well, no?
A: Yup! In between bands at the
moment, the last one having split after
four and a half years or so, but it won't
be long. Putting together a couple of
other projects right now.
Q: Playing in a band. Writing a book.
Compare and contrast.
A: I tend to bleed less when I
write a book. Usually I get a bit enthusiastic
and massacre my fingers in an emo
Q: What are your cinematic influences?
Again, lots. Lord Of The Rings
was obviously the best film ever. The
Star Wars of my generation!
I like horror movies: Ring
is a particular favourite. As with authors,
even the best directors churn out some
awful films. Films in general influence
me. I think I write quite cinematically;
I always have in my head the angle of
the camera when I'm describing a scene.
I visualise it as a film.
Q: What have you been reading lately?
A: Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson;
The Iron Dragon's Daughter by
Michael Swanwick; Schrodinger's Kittens
by John Gribbin; and about a billion
Post-it notes stuck all over my desk reminding
me about nebulous tasks I was supposed
to do years ago.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I'm on Book Three of the Braided
Path, an adult fantasy trilogy for Gollancz
in the UK. The first one, The Weavers
of Saramyr, was released in the UK
in 2003; the second, The Skein of
Lament, is out May 2004, and the
last one May 2005. After that... no idea!
I've got far too many books I want to
write, but I'll wait till the Braided
Path trilogy is done before I decide.