I’m SO excited – cue lots of exclamation marks!!!!!!! – because joining me for my inaugural One Interview is the ever lovely and ridiculously talented, Liz Kessler. I met Liz in December and we clicked instantly (this is the story I tell).[It’s the story I tell too! – Liz] I am now her biggest fan. [Thank you!!!] She’s one of the most positive people I know, and a source of true wisdom when it comes to the writing industry. [BLUSH!] Her latest novel,READ ME LIKE A BOOK is out now, and it’s certainly the YA novel that’s getting everyone talking. Although it’s Liz’s first YA book, she’s not new to children’s literature at all, and has successfully published a tall stack of stuff for younger readers about, amongst other things, mermaids.
But I want to know, Liz, why YA, and why now? Can you give us one good reason why you’ve made the switch?!
One good reason is that the time is right. I wrote the book fifteen years ago and no one wanted it – but I wasn’t prepared to give up, and I’m hoping the world is ready for it now!
And what’s one thing about writing for young adults that you’ve really enjoyed?
The UKYA community. I’ve made so many new friends (like you!) and made new and stronger links with people I knew before – and I just find it the most welcoming, supportive and fantastic community.
And one thing you’ve found challenging?
There is so much buzz in the UKYA world that it’s easy to spend too much time chatting with all the lovely people on social media. So all the loveliness can get in the way of working!
If you could only save one character from READ ME LIKE A BOOK from a fire, who would it be and why?
Are you SERIOUS? ONE character? And leave the rest to perish? Nope. I won’t do it. We stand and fall together!
What’s the one physical thing you need in your life to be able to write well?
OK, this one’s tricky. If I’m only allowed one thing then I guess I can’t say either a notebook or a pen, as they’d be useless (and madly frustrating) without the other. Ooooh, unless I can cheat and say my one thing would be a notebook and pen set…? I just love sitting in a café or on a beach (or anywhere) scribbling down thoughts in a notebook. If I can’t have that, I think I probably need a computer to write. Or am I being too literal? Are the actual writing implements taken for granted??? If so, the ONE thing (and this is actually the fourth thing now, so I’m sure I’ll be kicked out of here for cheating very soon) would be…the sea. I have to be near it as it calms me and inspires me and makes me want to write.
And what’s the one immaterial thing that makes writing easier?
Coast path walkies. It’s where I get most of my thinking done.
And your one biggest distraction when trying to get words onto paper?
Two words: Face. Book.
Ok, you’re on a desert island (probably not for the first time). You can bring one of each of these things.
One book: The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly by Jean Dominique Bauby. It reminds me that even in the worst circumstances that you could ever imagine, it is possible to create a thing of beauty.
One album: Can I cheat? My album would be the playlist I’ve made for the book I’m currently working on. Partly cos I love the music and partly cos I’d have to find something to write with somewhere on the island, and then I could listen to my playlist and work on the book till I got rescued.
One TV series: NASHVILLE!!!!! Starts again this week – woohoooooo!
One luxury item: A hammock. I’ve been watching The Island with Bear Grylls recently and seen too many people being eaten alive by bugs that live in the sand.
One person: My wife.
Access to one website: D’you know what? I think I’d quite like to give myself a break from social media, so no Facebook, no Twitter. I think I’d choose some kind of survival site, to help me stay alive.
And finally, why is READ ME LIKE A BOOK important to you? Give us as many reasons as you like!
It’s the first book I wrote and has been waiting a long time for this moment.
It was turned down by about ten publishers over a decade ago, and the fact that my publisher is so enthusiastically behind it now makes me aware of how much times have changed for the better.
It’s about a girl coming out and I am proud to be publishing an LGBT book.
Writing and publishing this book has given me the confidence to come out publicly myself.
It’s my first YA book and has opened up a wonderful new world for me.
It is a book about learning who you are, standing up for what you believe in and being strong, open and honest – and these are all things that mean a lot to me. My main character, Ashleigh, inspires me to be as strong as her!
Thank you so much for having me. I’m honoured and thrilled to be your first guest. J xx
p.s. I was lucky enough to be at Liz’s book launch last night – definitely the most heartwarming launch I’ve ever been to. Liz gave an amazing speech, which made us laugh and cry. READ ME LIKE A BOOK is one you want on your shelves. Here are a couple of pics!