We were given the chance to put our questions to debut YA author, Liz Flanagan, and we were all over that like a rash. The nice kind of rash… Uhh…
Basically, we couldn’t wait to hear what she had to say. Here’s how it went down:
Congratulations on your debut YA novel! Was your road to publication short and sweet, or not so fun?
Thank you so much! The road was rather long for me, in that I spent about seven years writing a first (fantasy) novel that wasn’t published, but it did help me sign up with the brilliant literary agent Ben Illis. Then I wrote a second novel, a kind of YA spy thriller, which got some positive feedback and apparently was a ‘close call’ but also didn’t get published. So this felt a bit like third time lucky, and perhaps my last shot, so I gave it everything I could!
Tell us about ‘Eden Summer’. When did the idea first come to you?
I had the idea for the main characters before anything else, and a strong sense of their three-way dynamic, but I didn’t know the story yet. So I left the idea for a few years and worked on different projects. In the meantime, other things happened: I read about the murder of Sophie Lancaster in a hate crime attack, which really shocked me, particularly because it happened near where I grew up and because I’d once been a teen with dyed hair and piercings. I also had a few bereavements, and I was thinking a lot about how people survive difficult things. I think those things helped me shape the plot, although the story is most definitely a work a fiction, so it’s not about those things in a direct way.
What was the most difficult thing about writing it?
The hardest thing was writing the hate-crime attack scene and the aftermath, and trying to really visualise how that might feel for somebody.
Did you have a best friend like Eden growing up?
Jess and Eden’s friendship isn’t perfect but they love each other very much. I’ve been so lucky with my wonderful friends, so that is a very definite yes! Two of my best friends from our teenage years are still my best friends today – one of them even became my brother’s partner – and the three of us live dotted along on the same street and now our children are friends too.
Top tips on making your summer an adventure?
Summer feels like a time for optimism and change. So, I’d say keep an open mind and try new things, whether it’s listening to new music, going to new places, speaking to new people… Have fun and see where it takes you!
What’s next for Liz Flanagan – a sequel, something new, a good cup of tea for a job well done?
Just like my character Jess, I love my tea, so thanks very much for the brew: I’ll take the cuppa and a new project please! Much as I love these characters, I can’t see a sequel with them, for now at least, so I’m writing a very different kind of book.
Because we want to know where the magic happens, send us a pic of where you write!
Here’s a little pic of my writing desk, squeezed under the eaves in my attic bedroom:
Nice! If you want to get your hands on ‘Eden Summer’ then do so, right here.
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