Opening lines, writing YA and our judgemental society: A Q&A with Cecelia Ahern

Cecelia Ahern’s debut YA novel ‘Flawed’ hits the shelves yesterday – so go get ’em! Its heroine Celestine North lives a perfect life, but when she makes an intuitive decision that makes a rule and faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned, or branded or found FLAWED. To celebrate the release of this brilliant dystopian novel, we’ve asked Cecelia a few questions!

We know all authors have to be at least a tiny bit fond of their writing. Can you quote your favourite line from your own work? In ‘Flawed’ my favourite line is the opening sentence in chapter one: ‘I am a girl of definitions, of logic, of black and white. Remember this.’ This really sets up Celestine’s character and creates the atmosphere for her impending journey. She is such a logical person, she is a mathematical whizz kid so whenever confronted with a problem, she always finds a way to the solution. However for the first time she is thrown into a grey area, and she must rely on her logic and her instinct to find her answers.

thetimetravellerswifeAnd obviously, authors not only love writing, but are big book nerds too. What’s your fave book EVER? ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife’ by Audrey Niffenegger. I only read it once ten years ago but it’s a stand out story in my head. It’s a beautiful dark love story with a very clever and unique premise. I wish I’d written.

What made you want to write a YA book? Do you think you’ll write more? I never planned to write a YA book, I just came up with the idea for ‘Flawed’ and ‘Perfect’ and knew that the stories had to be written. There was no great career move decision on my part, I just had a story that was bursting to be told and I obeyed my characters! I have written the sequel to ‘Flawed’, which is called ‘Perfect’. I do have another YA idea, yes…

Can you describe the plot of ‘Flawed’ in the length of a tweet? 17 yr old Celestine lives in a society where imperfection is not tolerated. She makes a moral mistake & is brought to ‘Flawed’ court & branded with an F.

FlawedTell us about the main character in ‘Flawed’. Was she inspired by
anyone you know?
 Celestine North is 17 years old. She is very clever, gets excellent results at school, is pretty and confident. She has a boyfriend Art and a great circle of friends. She doesn’t like to break the rules, she doesn’t want to stand out, she wants to fit in and be like everybody else. Suddenly she makes one decision, which changes the course of her life forever. She is branded Flawed and must live as a second class citizen under different rules and for the first time finds herself as different and cast out from her friends and society. Though there are parts of me in her, because she comes from my imagination, she is ultimately a work of fiction but I hope that my readers can identify with her. What makes her unusual to the rest of society is that they have lost their compassion, and she hasn’t.

‘Flawed’ deals heavily with morality and obedience, to the point of lacking compassion for others. Do you think that that is an issue in our own world? ‘Flawed’ was inspired by my feelings on our society. I feel that we are quick to blame, point the finger at people who have made alternative decisions, or mistakes. We hold people up as examples of what not to do, often what has gone wrong in our society, as if holding them alone responsible and take no responsibility for our own behaviour. I feel we are very judgemental and often have no compassion. There is little opportunity for people to get a second chance, or view things from another perspective. I despair of our treatment of women in the media, and I also despair of how teenagers are so obsessed by the exterior. I just pushed this further and created a morality court, a world where people really are always looking at the exterior and for everybody to be flawless.

Buy your copy of ‘Flawed’ here!

Are you excited for ‘Flawed’? Tell us @maximumpopbooks!

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Written by Sophie Waters

Sophie is the Head of Commercial at Maximum Pop! Having studied English Lit and Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, she came to MP! to satisfy her passion for books. Sophie is a diehard Hufflepuff and feminist. She's also a huge cat lover, and can often be found rocking her socks off at a gig.

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