Friday, 5 February 2010

Featured on Friday: Kate le Vann

Kate le Vann has written for various newspapers and magazines and has written five fabulous books for teens: Tessa in Love; Two Friends, One Summer; Things I Know About Love, Rain and her newest release, The Worst of Me.

1. Is there a specific time or place that you do your best writing in?
I think I write best in the hours just before falling asleep, because there's a bit of magic that carries you through when you're really tired; it takes you further into a character's mind and you never have quite the same thoughts earlier in the day when you're wide awake. You can always tidy up the mad things you wrote the next day when you're thinking clearly - and there are usually lots. But it's also the time when it's easiest to just shut down the computer and go to sleep.

2. Who were your favourite authors as a teenager? Are they different to your current favourites?
My dad bought me a lot of teen fiction that I wouldn't even have known existed; he loves book shops and always looked for things I might like. American authors like Paul Zindel - he was my absolute favourite, his books always had amazing titles like 'My Darling My Hamburger' - I wanted to call Tessa in Love 'I Love You More Than Bacon' in tribute to this. And The Pigman and The Pigman's Legacy, which I thought were really mega-deep and told me all about myself. Because they were and did. And my guilty pleasure was the Virginia Andrews Flowers in the Attic books, which I loved. All of those, the Zindel and the Andrews, if I pick them up now, I find impossible to put down.

3. If you were only allowed to take three books to a desert island, what would they be?
I'd want to take books I haven't read already, and long ones. So, from my current to-read pile I'm looking forward to PG Wodehouse's autobiography, Wodehouse on Wodehouse, Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton, and the last Dragon Tattoo trilogy book, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest, because I haven't quite managed to get into it yet, but I really want to know what happened.

4. Is there a novel that you wish you’d written? Why?
There's about a thousand! It's easy to be in awe of other writers because they can do things you can't do. One of my favourite books is Maybe the Moon by Armistead Maupin, and I loved it so much that I copied it, without realising, in my first novel, Trailers. There's a slightly similar plot, about someone with a disability getting ready for a big future event. Of course I am insulting the Maupin HORRIBLY by saying that - the similarity only goes as far as me copying.

5. Lots of your novels have very sad elements to them. Why is this such a prevalent theme in your novels?
I would like to blame Cosmogirl, because the first two YA novels I wrote were supposed to be part of a series of weepy books. But my first adult novel was far more miserable than both of them, and when the Cosmogirl series ended I didn't get much happier! I am a bit of a misery! I always worry about the worst thing happening, and I think in a way I like to follow those thoughts through in my books.

6. At the Moth Ball in The Worst of Me, why did you decide to refer to the characters using their costumes?
I wanted to capture a slight wildness in everyone that was a result of them wearing costumes and being able to break free of their usual self-restraint because they weren't quite themselves, they were characters - even if that meant being truer to themselves than normal. So anything could happen that night. It's like the way Cassidy talks at the start of having a certain persona, that may be different with different people, but she's not even sure if it matches up to the real her. At the party, everyone is given a clean sheet to not act the way they're expected to act.

7. Why are the endings to your books never completely happy?
Like I said, I am a bit of a misery! There's a couple which definitely do have very sad endings, but I suppose I think the others are all sort of optimistic!. But because I'm always worrying, I think I assume my characters will never experience that moment of just feeling safely happy, like everything's going to be okay. But maybe I should take account of the fact that other people maybe do feel that way sometimes and it would be nice to feel that way. I mean, do they? Are they crazy?

8. Are you working on anything at the moment? Can you tell us anything about it?
Because I'm spending the year in beautiful California, I want to set a novel in San Francisco, which is completely my new favourite city. I absolutely love it. I've been working for a while on a ghost story, narrated by a boy who is dead, and haunting his girlfriend. It sounds really miserable again! But I think this one definitely has a happy ending, as far as books in which the hero is definitely dead can be happy.

Thank you very much, Kate! You can visit Kate at her page at Piccadilly Press and read my review of The Worst of Me here.



  1. What a cool interview! A year in California sounds fun :)

    I'll have to read one of Kate's books soon.. they're at the top of the list!

  2. I used to read cosmogirl religiously and loved her stuff in it.. she did features and often short stories, so that was how I was directed to her books!
    Lovely interview :)

  3. Fascinating interview - great questions and answers! Thank you very much, both of you! I don't know where to begin commenting... I loved the way the Moth Ball scene was written. Love Armistead Maupin too, and I also grew up reading Paul Zindel books. And, ooh, San Francisco? Perfect for an Armistead Maupin reader! :)
    Thanks for this great interview.

  4. This is a fab interview! I just bought The Worst of Me this week, so it was so nice to learn a bit more about the author! Thanks Sophie :-)

  5. Wow, a year in California? Sounds heavenly. I definitely shared the love for Flowers In The Attic too.

    Great interview!


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