Author Interview: Melanie Cusick-Jones

Monday, 30 January 2012

Hello everyone, time for my third interview. If you have actually been listening to me rambling on you will know I am currently reading Melanie Cusick-Jones' relatively new book Hope's Daughter, as you can see I also interviewed her and this is what she had to say:

Q1: What inspired you to write such a unique book? 
Before I started writing Hope’s Daughter I’d been working on another project for a long time – literally five years – and was feeling a little uninspired. There was a new author competition I saw advertised with a UK publisher and I thought I’d put something new together for that to get me out of the rut I was stuck in. The competition deadline gave me five months to write something new. Around that time I’d been reading a lot of sci-fi: Philip K Dick, H G Wells and as I’d not seen a huge amount of sci-fi YA I thought I’d try it. The story grew too big for the 80,000 word count limit of the competition, but I loved the characters and the world I was building so I just carried on and finished it. In terms of the specific inspiration for the story, it’s very difficult to discuss in detail without spoilers.

Q2: How old were you when you began writing?
At school I’d done little creative pieces like most people did – plays, poetry – and enjoyed that. At uni I studied English Literature and wrote an ‘epic poem’ for one class and then a morality play for another and it reminded me how much I enjoyed the creative side of things, rather than just reading and writing about other people’s work. When I finished uni in 2003 I decided that I’d try writing a book and have spent the time since then learning how to do it! 

Q3: Who is your most inspirational person?
At one time I’d probably have answered with some worthy famous writer or thinker. Now I’d say my son. When you spend lots of time with children – which I’d never done before – you really look at life and the world in a different way. They will focus on the tiniest, most insignificant things like dust in the sunshine or how water ripples in a puddle and find real magic in it. For fortunate children who have comfortable lives, the freedom of simple happiness and ‘just doing’ is lovely to see and to be honest, it reminds you of what is really important, which gets lost sometimes when you’re older.

Q4: What is your favourite quote?
Ooh, that’s a good question. Some people are very quotable – I’m not I waffle far too much when I talk – I like practical, honesty and so I’ve always liked this:
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” —Oscar Wilde

Q5: What is your favourite book?
This is a tough question, there are just too many great books! Ones that immediately spring to mind are: Human Is? Short stories by Philip K Dick; great YA would be The Hunger Games and A Thousands Splendid Suns is an amazing story, perfectly written.

Q6: Have you got another job alongside/before you started writing?
Yes, my ‘day job’ is in property management, which can be quite demanding mentally and that’s why it takes me so long to get a book written! 

Q7:  Are you in the process of writing a book or planning to start and have you got any other books out already?
I’m currently working on Outlanders and Islanders, which follow on from Hope’s Daughter – as I started working on the ideas in 2010, I’d hope to complete them and release in 2012. The Rainbow Maker’s Tale, which tells the story of Hope’s Daughter from Balik’s perspective is half completed as well and so I’ve got that to finish too.

Q8: Why did you choose my blog in particular to have a review of your book on? 
As a fellow Brit and bookaholic – we already have some things in common J and then looking at your reviews and favourite books we like similar things. As I think I probably write the kind of book I’d like to read myself – hopefully it’ll be your ‘cup of tea’ too! (Very English and proper lol)

9) who is your favourite character you have created?
It has to be Cassie I think – as much as I love Balik and another character I’m working on forOutlanders – Cassie is my favourite. She’s a smart girl, who thinks for herself and because I don’t do high maintenance at all I struggle with girls who whine and need rescuing all the time (whether it’s a personal crisis or one of epic, dystopian proportions). We all have bad days, but suck it up and sort yourself out! However, I don’t expect Cassie to be a robot - at the same time she knows when she needs a bit of help and of course she has excellent taste in men.

Q10: who is your favourite author? 
I think the one writer I’ve never found a fault with is Khaled Hosseini – his stories, characters and beautifully detailed writing construct the perfect novels for me. Perhaps that’s why there’s only two: quality over quantity?

Q11: What is your favourite genre?
I like most things, but probably historical fiction because there’s so much variety. It can be any time period, any country – there’s always something to learn in a fictional world based on real events and places. Some of my favourite books: The Russian ConcubineSnowflower and the Secret Fan,Memoirs of a Geisha, all transport you to another world and let you see it through the eyes of fantastic characters.

Q12: What tips would you give aspiring writers out there?
Just do it – would be the first thing. Open the laptop or pick up your pen and start doing it. You’ll write some real garbage probably, but you’ll also start to develop your skills and a style that you like. Once you’ve started, just keep at it and practise. Over time the words will come easier and flow faster; your first drafts will be better and you’ll learn how to manage the complexities of putting together a novel.

A couple of my favourite ‘writing games’ to help you practise: watch the news or pick up the paper – take the first headline, photograph or story you see and build a very short back-story to it. Writing on something you had no idea about forces you to be extra creative. Another tool is to take random words (adverts will do) pop them onto a list and then write some mini-scenes which each have to include that word – this works really well if you have your own characters you want to develop (I’ve used it inOutlanders to get myself into the ‘world’ of that book). Alternatively you could pick one of your favourite book characters and write it for them fan-fic style. All good practise and you know what they say: practise makes perfect! 
Find the author:
Buy the book:
You Tube Book Trailer:

I hope you enjoyed the interview and please look out for my review of Hope's Daughter coming soon. Also there may just be a giveaway, see I can be cryptic. Okay that was a really bad attempt of cryptic-ness but oh well. So you have a giveaway and a  review to look out for. I'm spoiling you! If your an author and you want me to interview you and/or review your book, contact me. Also I haven't had any applicants to do guest reviews except Beka (check out her review on the guest review page) So I would appreciate it if someone could give it a go.

2 People dared to comment.:

Mel said...

Hi Emily - thanks for having me on the blog - really enjoyed doing the interview :) Very cryptic


Emily said...

Thanks that's what I was aiming for ;)

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