What inspired you to write 'Bombmaker'?
I really like dystopia, always have. Maybe it’s something to do with the recession (gosh that’s a grown-up answer, I must be getting old!) but it makes me think about how fragile society is. We all bumble along, quite happy that these are the rules and we all have to follow them. But then, what if people just suddenly stopped doing what they were meant to? Look at the London riots. Complete chaos. People were angry, afraid; acting totally out of character. Imagine if the whole world went like that? It’s terrifying and fascinating. No wonder people are drawn to write about it... and I guess I’m no different. I was watchingChildren of Men (great film!) and I could so easily, so vividly imagine Britain becoming like that – a society barely clinging on, doing stuff we never thought we would, just to survive. Couldn’t get it out of my head, so I figured if it wasn’t going anywhere, I’d put it to good use. ;)
What kind of books did you enjoy reading as you grew up?
Ooh, anything and everything. I devoured books when I was young. I’d go to the library on a Saturday and get six books (that’s all you were allowed) and by Sunday night they’d all be read! When I was really little it was horsey stuff by the Pullein-Thompson sisters and – of course – The Famous Five by Enid Blyton. Then I discovered vampires and creatures that go bump in the night, things like the Point Horror series and Christopher Pike books. I drifted fairly quickly into more adult stuff like the Anne Rice novels... but there was always room for things that were just beautiful and lovely like Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian or Why the Wales Came by Michael Morpurgo.
What advice would you have for young writers?
What’s that really wise, really famous saying? A journey of a thousand miles begins with a simple step? It’s something like that, anyway. And that’s my advice. Baby steps. Step 1: read stuff. It’s a craft, really. And to learn it you need to study masters. The more you read, the better you’ll understand how language, style, narrative, characterisation setting... all that good stuff can be used and manipulated. Step 2: write. Short stories, poems, first chapters, last chapters. Whatever floats your boat. Play with words, so that by the time you get that “big idea”, you have enough tools in your arsenal to make something fabulous. Which leads me to step 3: have a BRILLIANT idea. Writing a novel can be a long old slog, and unless you’re in love with your story, it can be easy to drift off along the way.
Do you relate in any way to any of the characters in 'Bombmaker'?
Hmmm. I don’t know that I can relate to any of the characters. Maybe some of their traits: Lizzie feels out of control in her situation; Samuel is trapped by circumstance and can’t really act the way he’d like to; Alexander (I’m not stupid enough to shorten his name!) is just trying to succeed in a hard, hard world; even Zane is only trying to protect those he loves. I can relate to all these aspects, but I didn’t write any of the characters as a version of me. Even though I’d really like to be Lizzie, despite all she goes through. If I had the gumption, I’d even like her hair! (I don’t have the gumption...)
What are your plans as a writer in the future?
Well, I’m currently writing a sequel to Bombmaker – though it’s at a very early stage so who knows if it’ll ever see the light of day. I’m also playing with a paranormal thriller that I wrote about a mysterious entity in the south-west of Scotland that seriously messes with your mind. (Cue evil grin!)
I’ve been asked before if I’d ever write an adult novel but I don’t know if I’d enjoy that. I like to write YA. Maybe it’s my Peter Pan complex coming out... or maybe it’s just that people at that point in their lives still have the opportunity to be anyone, do anything. I love that idea, because as you get older (which is rubbish, by the way), doors close. I’ll never now be an astronaut. Or a princess. Or swim for Scotland. Not that any of those were ever likely.... but at least they were possible.
Did you base any of the 'Bombmaker' characters on anyone in real life?
Nope, they are straight out of my head... including Alexander, which is a little scary! I might have pinched the odd personality trait (I had a TERRIFYING teacher once who got really, really quiet when he was angry. It was so scary!) But each individual as a whole is their own person.
What is your favourite novel to read (if you can choose one)?
Oh man. I’ve no idea. Okay, what book couldn’t I live without? It’s probably Noughts and Crosses or theHarry Potter series.
How can fans find out more about your work?
LOADS of ways! I’m on Twitter and Facebook, and I have a website and a blog (that I am a bit rubbish about updating I confess...)
Come find me at: @mcfall_claire