Here's another author interview for you all to enjoy :D This one is with Chris Farnell, author of Mark II This has been on my to-read list for a while now, hopefully soon I'll be able to add it to my have read list!
What was the inspiration behind Mark II?
Boringly I got the idea from a documentary about cloning. It featured a interview with some parents who hoped to one day clone their child who had died from a terminal illness. So, I took that idea and, um, stole it.
While I was writing it I also discovered the Genetic Savings & Clone business, a company that would clone your dead cat (for a fee). Sadly it went bust by the time the book came out, or I would have seemed eerily prophetic.
Would you ever clone someone?
If we’re talking realistic cloning, where you end up with a newborn baby who just happens to share DNA with someone else, then... Hitler. I’d raise him to be really, really good at watercolours so he could finally get into art school.
Otherwise, a clone of myself who could do all the jobs I don’t want to would be handy. But I suspect he wouldn’t like it and could probably take me in a fight.
What is the most challenging thing about writing for the YA market?
In my experience, the biggest problem is if you’re book is set in the present or near future it can seem outdated very quickly. Between writing the first draft and the draft that eventually went out to bookstores I had to go through the book several times updating pop culture references and the technology being used (there was one draft when people were watching films on videos).
Even the published book has DVDs and phones that seem only capable of sending texts.
What is the most enjoyable?
It’s hard to say. Mark II was written when I was very young, so I was still largely drawing on recent personal experience, if I was to write another YA book today (which I may do) I think it would be a very different sort of challenge.
However, there’s definitely a lot of fun to be had in writing about people experiencing something for the first time, which you do a lot of as a teenager. Mark II is very much about a teenager who finds himself in a position where he has to teach somebody else about the world, and through that discovers just how little he knows.
But it’s important to never confuse “not knowing something”or “never having done/felt/seen something before” with being stupid.
Do you have any particular kind of reader in mind while you're writing?
I really don’t. When it comes to writing fiction I’m completely self indulgent. There are a few beta readers who I’ll sometimes think “They’re going to like this joke”, and I think writing anything without thinking “Why the hell would anyone want to read this”is a dangerous game, but first and foremost I’m looking to write something I want to read.
Do you think that boys are missing out in modern YA literature?
I’ve no idea if there are any reliable statistics on this, but I don’t think this is the case. Authors like Charlie Higson, Alexander Gordon Smith and Anthony Horowitz are writing plenty of great “boys” YA fiction, with full of action packed plots and gory violence. Then again, I don’t really buy into the idea that boys wouldn’t want to read His Dark Materials or The Hunger Games just because the main character is a girl.
Mark II is a story that centres around the friendship of two boys, with very little in the way of big action sequences or people’s faces being ripped off. Sean Cumming’s Poltergeeks is about a 15 year-old girl who fights ghosts, and the cover alone looks pretty action packed. I’m not sure that either of those books is only suitable for one or the other gender.
Do you think more could be done to attract more male readers to YA books, If so what?
No idea. But publishing lots of young adult fiction that is both hugely varied and very good doesn't hurt.
What book are you reading at the moment?
I’m currently reading Rule 34 by Charles Stross. It has that super-creepy feeling you get from really good science fiction where writing about the future feels like a more accurate portrayal of the present than writing about the present does.
Are you working on any new projects that you could tell us a little about?
At the moment there’s a second novel I’m searching for a home for and another one that’s still being written. Between all that, I still write an occasional blog about zombie movies here.
Is there any advice that you were given, or would love to have been given, when you first started writing?
I feel inadequate trying to come up with useful writing advice in a world where Chuck Wendig has already written this.“Write as much as you can. As fast as you can. Finish your shit. Hit your deadlines. Try very hard not to suck.”
Oh, and after you’ve done that, redraft the hell of it, and read agents’ and publishers’ submission guidelines really carefully.
Is there anything you would like to tell your fans and readers?
Buying my book will give you a new outlook on life, better your financial situation, clear up any skin problems you might have and make you physically and emotionally attractive to people of the gender of your choice.
Failing that, if enough of you get it out from your local library I can usually afford a pretty decent takeaway once a year off the proceeds. Go do that.
Thanks Chris for the fab interview!
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See you next post!