As part of the Falling Fast blog tour, I am pleased to have Sophie McKenzie on the blog discussing the way she writes.1) Falling Fast, your new book is about to be published, can you tell us a little bit about it to whet our appetites?
Falling Fast is the first of a four-book series about River, a teenage girl who longs to experience love and romance and Flynn, the difficult but hugely attractive boy she finds herself falling for. The story starts on the day a local boy’s school is auditioning girls for their end of term production of Romeo and Juliet. River dreams of playing the lead female role opposite the enigmatic Flynn. But will her best friend, the pretty and talented Emmi, get the part – and the boy?
2) What kind of research did you need to carry out before writing Falling Fast?
I acted in many school plays myself and Falling Fast was definitely inspired by my memories of those experiences. Before planning Falling Fast, I reread Romeo and Juliet with an idea that it would be the ideal play for the book to centre around.
3) Your new book Falling Fast has one of Shakespeare’s plays integral to the story. Are you a fan of Shakespearean plays and will you be looking to use more of them in your future books?
Yes, Romeo and Juliet is the play that Flynn and River are involved with. There are echoes of the story in Falling Fast, particularly the way that both main characters share a sense that it’s ‘them against the world’ for much of the book. I’m a huge fan of Shakespeare – he was a brilliant storyteller and uses language and drama to make his audiences experience every emotion. The loose parallels between the Flynn series and the story of Romeo and Juliet continue through the rest of the books, as Flynn and River experience all the highs and lows of first love.
4) If you could go back in time and ask William Shakespeare one question, what would it be?
I would ask him which play was hardest to write and why.
5) I am quite taken by Flynn already. If you could pick an actor to play him if the book was picked up by a studio, who would you pick?
That would be a great question to ask teenage readers – they are far more aware of the young actors out there than I am. One fan recently sent me her fantasy cast for the Medusa Project series – so maybe the guy she picked to play Nico in that would be good. Flynn and Nico are both dark in colouring, though Flynn is much more intense, with green/gold eyes!
6) I am a huge fan of Girl, Missing and Sister, Missing. Where did you get the original idea?
The Missing series started when I was browsing the internet and came across a missing children’s website. I saw a picture of a child who disappeared as a toddler next to an age-progressed picture of how that child, now aged 14, might look like today. I wondered what someone in that situation would do and the rest of the story developed from there. In Girl, Missing, Lauren goes in search of the truth about her birth and early years and gets into terrible danger as she discovers more than she bargained for. In Sister Missing Lauren has to step up and take responsibility for finding her missing younger sister. Again, she has to take huge risks and overcome horrific dangers to win through. There will be a third story – Missing Me – told from the point of view of Lauren’s younger sister, Madison, now a teenager herself.
7) Being an experienced writer, do you find the process gets easier with each book you write?
Not really! The process is different every time and each book is its own challenge. Sometimes the beginning is easy to write but the end is much harder work (eg Blood Ransom). Sometimes its hard to get the story moving, but the second half zips along as if its writing itself (eg The Hostage). Sometimes I struggle with the plots, sometimes with the characters and sometimes the whole thing!
8) Do you think your previous career working in journalism, helps you to edit your books?
Definitely – working as a journalist has made me very disciplined about both writing and editing my stories.
9) Do you try and aim for a daily word target when writing?
When I’m in the process of writing the first draft of a new story I try to write a chapter every day. That keeps the momentum going, even if I go back later and rewrite it all!
10) Do you edit as you go along or do you wait until the first draft is finished?
11) When is your ideal time to write? Morning, afternoon or evening?
I write whenever I can. The rest of my life gets fitted in around it, though I usually stop in the evening to spend time with my son and my partner and my friends.
12) Which authors inspired you whilst growing up?
Too many to list, but they include: Nina Bawden, Elizabeth Goudge, Willard Price, E Nesbit, Louisa M Alcott and the authors of the Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables and the What Katy Did series.
13) If you could have written any other book in the world, what would it be?
There’s no book I wish I’d written, though there are lots that I love. Two of my favourites are Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, and The Secret History, by Donna Tartt.
14) What are you working on right now?
I’m finishing off Missing Me for this Autumn and also working on Burning Bright, the second book in the Flynn series.
15) What advice would you give unpublished authors?
Read as much as possible, especially the kind of stories you would like to write yourself. Write regularly. And work hard – that means putting in planning, writing and editing hours and being open to ways of improving your story.
Thank you so much for coming on the blog today Sophie. You are an inspiration. Falling Fast went on sale on March 1st, so should be available in all major bookstores.
To find out more about Sophie McKenzie: