1. What was your inspiration to write Lost for Words? Was there a specific message you wanted to get across to readers?
For most writers, I think, the inspiration for a novel comes when you have two or three ideas going round and round in your head for a while. For my first book, Life on the Refrigerator Door, I was thinking about notes and about loss and suddenly it all came together. Same with Lost For Words. I was thinking about panic attacks and about this character, Sophie. Just idly thinking, making notes, imagining scenes and lines of dialogue. Then, one day, I was in the suburbs of London and it was the most ordinary of mornings until the bombings began in the city centre. I realised months later that I needed to write about that feeling of the ordinary being destroyed - how do we live with that afterwards? Lost For Words was born.
I don't have a message I'm trying to convey in the book. I don't like reading 'messagey' books and I don't want to write them either. I hope readers enjoy meeting Sophie as much as I enjoyed writing about her, and I'm sure they'll tell me their own interpretations of the novel. Much more interesting than mine!
2. In what ways do you relate to Sophie?
Sophie has been through something so terrible she can't face it. She can't even think about it. I've never suffered like Sophie has, but I relate to her as a teen who struggles with finding her voice. Sophie is much, much braver than I ever was. In that way, I admire her.
3. What was the hardest part about writing Lost for Words? The easiest?
Lost For Words wasn't an easy book to write. That said, the part when Sophie and Emily sit up on the roof and wait for the sun to come up seemed to just flow onto the page. The scene was vivid and somehow magical too. There were many magical moments in the writing of the novel, but that roof scene stays with me.
I struggled often with knowing just how to tell the story. Structure and format really made this book a different writing experience to my first (which was very easy to structure). Knowing what to reveal and when to reveal it challenged me and was probably the hardest part of writing the story. I had to read it over many times to get that right.
4. If you could travel to any place in the world, where would it be and why?
I'm in Paris right now (yay!), sitting in a hotel overlooking a courtyard which is full of roses. I just ate a pizza - a delicious pizza - and will spend tomorrow wandering around with my baby boy. So, right now, I don't want to be anywhere else but here! I'm lucky that I get to travel loads. I first went on a long trip when I was eighteen and backpacked to lots of different countries on my own - an experience that has left me with a longing to travel all the time.
As a writer, I always have my office with me. That's a blessing most of the time and a curse when I want to put work to one side - I never really stop thinking about writing. Even when I sleep, I seem to dream about story ideas. (Not that I get to sleep so much these days with a wakeful baby around.)
5. If you were able to befriend Sophie with any other YA character who would it be?
I love Daisy in How I Live Now. By the end of her story, Daisy would be a great friend to Sophie. At the beginning of How I Live Now, she's pretty out there. I think Sophie would appreciate that in her. It's a wonderful book, really great.
I have 3 copies of Lost for Words to giveaway.
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