Sally Green Q&A - The Northern YA Literary Festival

Friday, 13 July 2018

If you've been reading my blog since March, you will probably remember that I worked closely with  The Northern YA Literary Festival, well this month today I am hosting another another amazing author in association with the next NYALitFest event, which is their supernatural/fantasy extravaganza. Today I am interviewing SALLY GREEN - so I'm very excited right now to be talking about The Smoke Thieves.  

Like I said, this post was made possible by The Northern YA Literary Festival which will be taking place in Preston on the 21st of July (next week!). More information about the event will be at the end of the post so make sure you read to the end!

Here we go!

Hi Sally! Welcome to This Booky Place, I’m  Rebecca . I absolutely loved The Smoke Thieves  (check out my review here!) and I’m ridiculously excited for the next book. I’m also completely fangirling while writing this about the thought of having you on my blog.

Hi Rebecca, Thanks for asking me to This Booky Place. ☺ So glad that you loved The Smoke Thieves. 

I have a few questions here for you and don’t worry if there’s any you can’t answer...  Ha ha – that’s great, I do often think my answers need some editing!

What is the writing process like when writing five different characters? Did you have to write each character’s story separately or was there a different strategy? 

When I started The Smoke Thieves I thought it would be great to write from several different character view points – I love writing lots of characters so this seemed a wonderful idea. I could only see the upside – it’d be fun, fun, fun all the way! The reality was rather different! The characters were fine – I love them and finding their voices and developing them and their stories was joyous, however the technical bit of balancing the story lines and interweaving the stories was incredibly difficult (and something I hadn’t even considered would be an issue before I started – how naïve I was!) 
I wrote The Smoke Thieves, as I write all my books, in chronological order. I think I follow this approach because I don’t plan my stories (or at least plan them very minimally/have a general idea of where they’re heading) and actually my first draft is my plan. I had just four characters in the first draft and added in Ambrose during the early edits. I did sometimes edit the character view points singly i.e. edit all Tash chapters then all Catherine etc., but I’d have to then edit the story as a whole as all the view points had to fit together. I edit my writing a lot at the best of times but there were points in the editing process of The Smoke Thieves where it was so complicated and the task seemed so huge that all I wanted to do was cry! I’m a great believer in the ‘just keep swimming’ approach to editing – don’t think about the size or impossibility of the task, just edit each sentence at a time – and I  really needed that thought process for The Smoke Thieves.

Who’s perspective was the most fun/easiest to write?

Edyon and Tash were a joy. 

Edyon is the student who has a bad habit of stealing things on impulse. He's wonderful as a character because he's basically a nice, harmless guy who wouldn't hurt a fly, but who makes a series of wrong choices that get him into progressively more serious and dangerous situations. The challenge for me was to think of increasingly awful things to happen to him! I started writing Edyon’s character and by the end of the first chapter I knew he had to be gay  and so desperate for a lover. Edyon is a lover not a fighter and this is a story of war and battles and politics – he really doesn’t belong and yet he does because he’s the opposite of it all.

Tash is the lively, confident teenage partner of the demon hunter, Gravell, and they have great conversations and arguments about Tash’s desire for boots and her height (she’s petite), which I loved writing.

My favourite scene in The Smoke Thieves is in the bath house and involves both Edyon and Tash. I can't say too much for spoiler reasons, but there's an argument over money between Tash and Gravell which grows to an all out chase, whilst Edyon soaks in the bath and tells himself that he'll never ever steal again, but of course his self control runs out before the bathwater goes cold.

And in contrast to the last question, who’s perspective was the hardest?

Princess Catherine is a key character but her storyline and plot was the hardest as she has the most complicated political situations to navigate. She’s the main driver for the story as she has to pull the clues together as to what is happening in the war and with the demon smoke. But she wasn’t difficult as a character – she’s intelligent and ambitious and even though she’s born a princess and has a certain amount of privilege she’s also a second class citizen because she’s female. I love Catherine as a character and I’m glad that lots of readers do too. 

Is there anything you’re allowed to say about the next book? Even if you can just hint about more March/Edyon goodness. 

I’ve just finished the first draft of the second book and it continues where the first book left off. There’s much more of the demon world and more demons in the second book. And yes, there is much more of March and Edyon together, and I think you’ll like how they cope with a snowstorm – body heat is the answer of course! (THIS IS PROBABLY THE BEST BOOK TEASER I'VE EVER READ)

Can you offer any budding fantasy writers a little inspiration? A quote/mantra or something that has helped you write such amazing books and characters?

Here’s a bit more than a quote…

Be brave. Write from your heart and soul. Write about things that are important to you that convey your passion. I wrote The Smoke Thieves not because I'm passionate about demons or thieves but because I wanted to write about young woman, Princess Catherine, who gradually realises that she has as much intelligence as the men around her and that she could rule better than them. I wanted to follow her path as she decides to take power for herself, and see if and how she'd do it. 

But as a writer have to use your brain as well as your heart and soul. Writing is hard! Your characters have to act as real people do even in a fantasy world. Think of your characters as real people and spend time working out what they'd do in a situation and why they'd do it - even characters as silly and impulsive as Edyon do things for a reason.

And that was my interview with Sally Green! As a huge fan of Sally's work, this was a real treat for me to read and work on -so I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did.

Northern YA is going to be an afternoon full of all things Supernatural & Fantastical. Featuring bestselling authors Melvin Burgess, Sally Green, A.J Hartley, Taran Matharu, Melinda Salisbury, David Owen, Alexandra Christo & Marcus Sedgwick are confirmed.

The afternoon will consist of 2 panel events discussing the very best supernatural and fantasy books in YA, followed by signing sessions. There is also going to be free bookish face painting from 12pm until 1pm. A Book exchange stall and a few other activities to keep you busy in between events. So you don't want to miss this event basically, hope to see you there. 

Thanks for reading!

1 comment

  1. I mean, like, that is a teaser?!?
    Fab interview :)
    Cora |


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