InterviewsQUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
I often get requests from students for interviews about various subjects, which I don't always have time to do in full. These are some I did earlier ... they may be useful ...
I've arranged them loosely into subjects where possible.
1. Do you believe in 'crossover fiction'?
Sure there is, although not particularly teenage books.
2. Do you think that it is a new phenomenon?
Not at all. Look at Alice in Wonderland. Having said that, these thigns go in and out of fashion, and once publishers put an idea on their radar, of course they play to that market which is bound to increase it.
3. What do you think has caused the recent upsurge in titles that are bought by both adults and children?
Partly the huge popularity of JK Rowling - it became one of those must-read things, in a very big way. Phillip Pullman is another example/ Fantasy has always been cross over, as has sci fi - if you look at those shelves in the book shops, they are browsed by adults nad children alike. Pullman brought some lit cred to the whole thing, so adults could feel safe reading it. But both of those authors benefited from the general increase in quality in children's fiction - there are so many good writers working in that area just now.
4. Do you think that there is a big difference between titles that are considered crossover and those, like Doing It and Junk that are teenage titles but are read by adults?
Sure there is. Reading children's books is much more about nostalgia, feel good reading. Teenage titles tend to be much harder edged. People are most happy to be reminded about being a child than about being a teenagers.
5. Doing It was published by Penguin and not Puffin in the hardback. Did you agree with that decision?
It was the paperback which was published by Penguin. The hardback was published by Andersen Press. I was fine about it. One of the problems with teenage books is marketing them. They are labelled by age in book shops and not by genre, as for instance, film and music is, which means you have to make a statement about yourself just going to the right section. A book like that in the adult section will picked up by just as many young readers.
6. Why do you think that the paperback garnered so much publicity while the hardback did not?
Well, that's wrong. The fuss was about the hardback.
7. Do you like the hardback and paperback jackets of Doing It?
I was fine with the girl with her knickers half way down - or up, if you look closely, but I didn't like the fact that she was so thin. She looked either about twelve or ill. Since the book was about normal shaped people, I didn't like that. They did the same thing in the states, too.
8. Do you write a book with a specific audience in mind?
Well, I set it up with a specific market in mind - my publisher. No, that's not true. I set it up for young readers, but I write them with no audience - just do it was well as I can.
9. Would you agree that the power of narrative is essential to a children's book?
Hmm - not sure about that. It's obviously the main driving force at the moment, and that's a good thing - stories are important and powerful things. I remember Stig of the Dump and such things, and Alice, and I'm not sure that narrative was quite as important in those days. Essential is a strong word.
10. If yes, do you think that this is why adults are turning to children's and teenage titles? It's certainly true that kid's books are all about strong narrative at the moment, and it's one reason why adults read them.
11. What other features, if any do you think that children's and teen books have that adults don't?
I have no thoughts on this one. I'd suspect, nothing.
12. A main difference between children's and adults books is that children's books have to have an element of hope? Do you agree with this?
No, not at all. It's usual, though.
13. Do you think that authors are increasingly aware that there is an adult market that they can tap into? And do they, in your opinion, write with this in mind?
Very much so.