Friday, August 5, 2011

Brilliant! Another fabbty fabness filled Q&A! But with Whom...?

Hi Poppies,
Remember Days like This? The amazing book I review in my last post? Well the author, Alison Stewart, has done this very brilliant Q&A with me! Thank you Alison! It was great!

Why do you write?

I love writing. It's like one long discussion with yourself! It's the ultimate indulgence. Also, it's a way of working things out that have been stewing away in your head. Sometimes you're not even aware that you are returning to the same issues. I left my home in South Africa in my twenties because I didn't like apartheid. And though I'm an Australian now and my children were born here, I still find myself writing about "belonging" and its opposite, "alienation". In Days Like This, when Lily's parents stop loving her - this, I think, is the ultimate alienation.

*What is your inspiration?

It probably sounds a bit weird but I think I'm constantly trying to make sense of things! "What if" inspires me. That's why I like dystopian fiction so much - it's the ultimate "what if". It's a way to address fairly confronting things like why people behave the way they do, what motivates them - greed, love, fear, money, passion, peace. It's a way to try and work out what we value about ourselves and our world.
*Who is your favourite  character in Days Like This?

They all have their different qualities. Lily begins cautious but fires up! Daniel is impetuous and cynical from the start. Sal is a total cow. Kieran is sweet and full of integrity but I do love Ingie! She's a minor character but she's super feisty, strong, optimistic and resourceful. Someone you'd want on your side.
*Why did you write, Days like This?

I know you probably shouldn't write fiction with a cause or 'themes' in mind but dystopia is different in that respect. If you look at our world, there's a lot to be worried about - how we're handling climate change, the rise and rise of the super-rich, not all of whom behave responsibly with their power and money, our obsession with staying young, exploitation of the powerless, the use of technology as a negative controlling force. Days Like This incorporates a fair few of these themes because they're issues that concern me. But having said that, the book is primarily a story about how the narrator Lily, her brother Daniel and sister Alice deal with living in an extreme world governed by rules, imprisoned by parents who no longer love them. They are in danger, they have to escape but what is out beyond the Wall that confines them, and will they survive?
*In a film version of it (DLT) who would you picture being Lily and some of the other main characters?

I haven't really thought about this, but if a film ever was made, it would be great if some young Australian actors could take the roles, rather than Hollywood stars. Australia has so much brilliant up-and-coming acting talent; it would be a shame not to use it.

*What tips can you give to upcoming authors?

Write about what you know and what inspires you, rather than trying to write about something unfamiliar to your world like, say, a rip-off of Pride and Prejudice (unless of course that point in time is your absolute passion!). Think about the things in your life that upset, uplift or infuriate you. Use your own environment for your setting. Think about how to maintain tension to drive your narrative - readers might engage with issues like betrayal, relationship upheavals, dangerous or threatening scenarios that need ingenuity to drive plot and develop character. And write as much as you can - don't worry about how it reads initially because editing is fun! Be prepared to edit!  Less is more, they tell me - it doesn't come naturally to me, but I can see the writing is always better when it's skilfully edited (I have have to quickly thank my Penguin editor Jeanmarie Morosin here, as well as Penguin children's publisher and writer herself, Jane Godwin - they're both brilliant and perceptive editors!). Finally, read a lot and take note of how your favourite writers weave their stories.
*Did you always want to be an author?

I wanted to be a journalist first. I used to pretend to be a "foreign correspondent" when I was about 10, writing gory accounts from the frontline of my own bedroom. I tried to leave school at 15 to get a job at the local paper but the editor sensibly sent me away! I eventually did a journalism degree and worked for years as a journalist. I still love journalism but I wanted to explore other kinds of writing. That's when I started writing fiction.

*Would you change anything about Days Like This if you were to re-write it?

Maybe the ending. I see someone on Goodreads wasn't too keen on my ending though they still gave the book 4.5 stars, which I'm grateful for. Endings are hard though and there's always the hope that if the book does well, you might do a sequel!!! So you keep that in mind. It's not a dark ending and maybe that can irritate people, who might have preferred something bleaker and less pat.
*What are your main hopes for DLT? What do you hope it will do for people?

I hope that lots of people will get to read it and maybe like it. I'd be really pleased if it challenged people to think about what's important to them. Despite the confronting disintegration of a familiar world, I hope Days Like This tells us there is room for a compassionate society that values decency and integrity. I really do have a deep-held belief in peoples' essential humanity. And I do hope the book will challenge readers to examine what they really value. Do they value a sense of historic or literal place, the natural environment and the dignity of the individual or would they prefer a world that satisfies them only materially? I think we're an adaptable species so we can cope with whatever is thrown at us. Ultimately, Days Like This is about hope and redemption.

Thank you again Alison!

1 comment:

Thank you so much for reading my post and, if you care to, commenting! It means a lot to me that you have thoughts on this thing (whatever it may be), too, and want to share them.

Please note, however, that nothing hurtful will be tolerated.

Have a beautiful day.x