Saturday, 23 June 2012

Fortnight Of Guests 2012: Keren David

I hate the huge pleasure of interviewing the lovely Keren David earlier this month.  She's the author of the awesome When I Was Joe series and Lia's Guide To Winning The Lottery.  So ,without further ado, here is what Keren had to say... :D

Q&A With Keren David

Hi Keren! It's a huge pleasure to have you here today!!  Can you maybe tell us a little about you and all your brilliant books?
Thanks for invited me to take part in this great event!

When I Was Joe (When I Was Joe, #1)Your books - When I Was Joe in particular - deal with some really difficult themes. How do you go about tackling them?
I prefer to think of them as really interesting themes – criminal justice, money, identity – it gives me a lot to think about.  I read a lot about real life cases, and I try and talk to people with useful experience. For example I visited Camelot, the company which runs the lottery when I was planning Lia’s Guide to Winning the Lottery and they gave me a lot of help.

Lia's Guide to Winning the LotteryTy/Joe from When I Was Joe is a really powerful character. Where did Joe - and the books based on him - come from?
I saw a news report about a boy who’d gone into witness protection and I started thinking about how difficult that would be.My family had just moved from Amsterdam to London and my kids were starting at new schools, so it wasn’t too hard to imagine. I wanted Ty to be someone that lots of people could identify with -  just an ordinary boy, nothing special. I did a lot of thinking about 14 year old boys and what they’re like -  they don’t talk much and their emotions are all over the place.

After writing a gritty gang series, what gave you the idea to write a funny contemp book?
All my books have (I hope) a mixture of grit and humour, and (so far) they’re all about ordinary teens in extraordinary situations. I thought the story of a girl winning the lottery was a great chance to have a go at something where the humour was more full on.

If a film was made of any of your books, who would you choose to play your main characters?
 It’s difficult to answer because the actors have to be the right age. He’s a bit too old, but I love Michael Socha (Tom in Being Human), he could have been Ty a few years ago. And maybe Yasmin Paige, who was in the film Submarine, for Lia. Would love some other suggestions!

How do you get a real feeling into your books - the gang and violence in When I Was Joe, the difficulties and pressures of winning the lottery?
I just spend ages imagining myself into the heads of the characters -  almost acting it out as I write!

You write contemporary novels – amazing ones! – but what's your favourite genre to read?
I don’t really have a favourite genre, I just like well written books with strong characters and compelling stories that make you think, whatever genre. Some of my favourite YA books that I’ve read recently are The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, which is contemporary; VIII by H M Castor, historical and Sarra Manning’s Adorkable (romance).

AdorkableWhat's the last book you read that just made you go; "wow"?  A book that got you truly invested and got into your head?
Sarra Manning’s Adorkable  made me laugh, sigh and think -  a winning combination.

Why did you chose YA literature when you began writing?
I knew I wanted to write for children but I was thinking of a younger age group. Then I saw the news story about witness protection and I realised it was a perfect teenage story - because the teenage years are about changing identity anyway. So YA chose itself in a way.

What normally comes first for you - a character or an idea?
Generally it’s the idea first, but I am working on something at the moment which started with a character.

What made you become an author?  Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
I always loved reading, and when I was at primary school we had to write about what we wanted to be when we grew up and I wrote ‘a lady writer’.
Then I left school at 18 and got a job on a newspaper and spent the next few decades being a journalist, so I only came back to my ambition of writing books in my 40s – proof that it’s never too late to revisit your dreams.

If you could make everyone in the world read just one book ever, what would that book be?
What a question!  Well, obviously I have to answer ‘When I was Joe’ because then I’d be a multi billionaire. Oh hang on, you said ‘read’ not ‘buy’…

What do you hope readers will take away from your books?
I hope they’ll go on thinking about the big questions raised - about how they’d react in those situations. And I hope they’ll rush out and buy my next book (Another Life, the third ‘Joe’ book is out in September!)

You must get asked this all the time, but do you have any advice for aspiring authors?  Keep trying. You may suffer a lot of rejections along the way, but you have to stay tough and focussed and keep writing.

There were loads of paranormal references in Lia’s Guide To Winning The Lottery - Fallen Angel ones especially! Can we be looking forward to a Keren-David-paranormal in the future...?
Well, not in the near future! But you never know..

Quick-Fire Round:
Reading or Writing? 
Argh! How can I choose? Writing, I suppose, because it involves reading.
Serious contemp or funny contemp? 
Vampires or werewolves?
Favourite ever book? 
Masha by Mara Kay. Now tragically out of print.
Best book-to-screen movie? Adaptation, which is a film about a writer adapting a book…it’s just so clever.

---!/Kerensd   @kerensd

Thank you so much, Keren!  It's been great having you here!!   I think Yasmin is a good choice for Lia.  :D

Everyone, if you liked this post, make sure you follow all the FoG events on Twitter at #FortnightOfGuests


Keren David was brought up in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire and went to school in Hatfield. She left school at 18 and got a job as a messenger girl on a newspaper, then turned down a place to read English at university to take an apprenticeship as a junior reporter. She was freelancing as a reporter on the old Fleet Street by her mid-twenties and, after living and working in Scotland for two years, was appointed as a news editor on The Independent at the age of 27. She worked at The Independent for six years, moving from news to become a commissioning editor on the Comment pages. She and her family then went to live in Amsterdam for eight years where she was editor in chief of a photo-journalism agency. On returning to the UK in 2007 she decided to attend a course on writing for children at the City University. When I Was Joe started out as a project for that course. She lives in London with her husband and two children and studying for an Open University degree in Humanities with Art History.

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