Monday 21 January 2013

Inspire Me with Jane Casey

To celebrate the forthcoming publication of How To Fall, the new crime novel for young adults, I am pleased to welcome Jane Casey onto the blog to tell us what inspired her to write this novel.

I usually write crime novels for adults – I’m just finishing my fifth – but I have an enduring love for YA fiction. I started out as a children’s books editor (not a bad Plan B for a writer, it has to be said) and I was lucky enough to work with great authors such as Meg Cabot and Alyson Noel on some amazing books. The idea to write a YA novel came around the time I should have been writing my second crime novel. I’ve never been able to resist a good story, either as a reader or a writer, and I got hopelessly sidetracked. That book didn’t quite make it to being finished – maybe I’ll get around to it one day. It led, however, to a very lovely editor at Random House Children’s Books suggesting I might write a crime novel for teens, which in turn became How To Fall.
How To Fall is mainly a mystery but also a love story. My heroine, Jess Tennant, is a new arrival in the sunny seaside town of Port Sentinel – but the town has a dark heart and many secrets to uncover. I wrote Jess as an alternative to the fainting heroines that were Bella Swan’s legacy in YA fiction and she’s pretty feisty. She has a lot in common with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, being blonde, opinionated and easily underestimated. Like Buffy, she’s addicted to wisecracks even when she should keep her mouth shut. Like Buffy, she has a strong moral sense. Like Buffy, she can’t help falling for what might be the worst possible guy for her. If you’ve never watched Buffy, seasons 1, 2 and 3 are pretty much essential viewing, despite the rubbish CGI when they were making each episode for about $12.50. There has never been a better TV show. About vampires and teenagers, anyway.
A few years ago I got completely addicted to One Tree Hill, despite the fact that it was preposterous. I don’t even like basketball. I do like evil fathers who pull strings to get their own way, and One Tree Hill had a great one of those. Also, cute boys. 
And speaking of which, Grant Gustin. I’ve often been asked who would play a particular character if they made films of my books. If How to Fall was ever filmed, I wouldn’t get a say in who played Jess or any of the other characters, and it takes approximately one million years to get a film made so he would be too old (and American), but when I imagine Will, he’s built along the lines of Grant Gustin. To find this image I had to look at literally hundreds of pictures of him. Had to. For ages. I won’t judge you if you find you have to do the same.
Don’t ask me why, but I am currently obsessed with owls. They, and their reproductive habits, play a major part* in How to Fall. This one was an eBay purchase and sits on my desk. The picture does not feature my desk, which was too untidy to be a backdrop but has altogether fewer fruit bowls on it.

*all right, a minor part
In many ways I haven’t grown out of my teenage taste in music. Give me an angsty pop song about heartbreak and I am happy. It’s not cool and I don’t care. I edge towards credibility with my love for Feist, Gemma Hayes and Martha Wainwright, but to be honest it’s Taylor Swift, One Direction and Take That all the way when I’m writing. I highly recommend the overwrought yodelling of Avril Lavigne, especially ‘Keep Holding On’. It’s a karaoke classic. 
Art is a big element in How to Fall and I couldn’t resist including a particularly lovely painting that hangs in the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin. It was voted Ireland’s most popular painting recently, and you can see why. Called ‘The Meeting on the Turret Stairs’, painted by Frederick William Burton in 1864, it shows the final parting of Hellelil from her bodyguard, Hildebrand, and it’s a beauty. Hellelil, as a name, has been slow to catch on. I may try to revive it by giving it to a character. Then again, I may not.
Finally, Dirty Dancing, a film that really deserved a better title. I remember when it came out first (though I was FAR too young to go and see it in the cinema) and being fascinated by the poster – Jennifer Grey being lifted out of the water by Patrick Swayze. Like How to Fall it tells the story of a girl who learns to love and take risks and believes in doing the right thing, no matter what it costs her. I’ve seen the film so many times I think it’s woven into my DNA and every love story I write probably owes something to it. Sometimes falling in love is just the start of your problems, not the happy-ever-after ending you might expect – and that’s the kind of story I like to tell.
 Thanks for a fabulous post Jane!

How To Fall by Jane Casey will be published on the January 31st by Corgi.
To find out more about Jane:
Twitter: @janecaseyauthor

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