The fourth person to take a seat at the round table is James Dawson, YA Author and authority on pop music. James’ debut novel Hollow Pike is published by Inidigo and he is working away on his next novel. You can totally follow him on Twitter, by the way.
1. Which author inspires you? Whether in your work, life or reading habits?
Just one is tough. I guess the author RIGHT NOW who makes me raise my game is John Green. The guy is just so bloody sharp. He swings from laugh aloud funny to heart-breaking sensitivity in the space of a few words. I read his books when I want a kick up the bum for my own writing. He makes me think I should be trying to do better. That said, my biggest reasons for writing are actually two screenplay writers: Joss Whedon of Buffy and Firefly and Kevin Williamson who wrote Scream and Dawson’s Creek. I think ALL YA authors owe those two men a pint to be honest.
2. Which book has caused the biggest emotional response from you? (Not just sadness, but joy, anger, etc)
For sadness (and sheer horror) it was Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman. I can’t say much without giving the whole plot away, but as readers (and especially YA readers) we have come to expect a happy ending I feel. All the way through this book I was convinced we’d get one. When we didn’t get a happy ending I openly wept on a train to Newcastle. I had a similar reaction to Lee Scoresby’s fate in The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman. For joy, it has to be one of my earliest memories of reading – Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvellous Medicine. It’s the line about the grandmother having a mouth like a puckered dog’s bottom. EVERY TIME.
3. Which book do you wish you had written and why?
I’ve said this elsewhere, but I think Clockwork by Philip Pullman is the most ingenius book ever written. It’s only 92 pages long but manages to be funny, scary, clever and moving. To me, it’s the perfect novel – and as it’s ‘about’ the power of stories, all writers should look it up!
4. Go to a bookcase at random, close your eyes and point at a random book. What is the book and have you read it yet?
I pointed at Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. I have indeed read it and loved it. It’s about a scary carnival that arrives in town to change the lives of two very different thirteen year old boys. Obviously the carnival is a bit of a metaphor for puberty, but that doesn’t stop it from being terrifying. Scary circus folk are always scary. The jury’s out as to whether this is YA or not. In many ways it’s about a fear of ageing and how we try to cling to youth.
5. What is your favourite book and why? (One you’d save from fire, take to a deserted island and recommend everyday of your life)
I’ve already mentioned Clockwork, so I’ll mention my other favourite Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin. It’s the witty chronicles of a group of twenty-somethings living in 1970s San Francisco. The plots are gloriously soapy, but the characters are so vivid, warm and endearing. Over the course of eight novels, you grow up with them and the characters almost feel like family to me now.