Thursday 25 September 2014

Author Interview: Scott Westerfeld

Anna Fischer, 2014
Today I have the absolute pleasure of welcoming Scott Westerfeld, author of the Uglies series, Levithan trilogy and the brand new novel, Afterworlds, to answer a few questions.

1. Darcy’s introduction to the world of publishing seems to be very rosy, and seemingly ideal. How much of it was lifted from your own experiences?
She does get lucky, but in the hottest part of the YA boom a few years ago, it wasn’t uncommon to meet debut novelists in her position. Six-figure advances were flying around then (much more than now). Pretty much all her experiences, from the big money to an editor asking her to deliver a happy ending, are based on something that has happened within earshot of me.

2. Afterworlds combines both a paranormal story and a contemporary one effortlessly. Was it difficult to unite two potentially clashing genres?
I’ve always wanted to write two stories that were in different genres, and yet which were interwoven with each other at the level of plot and theme and language. Everything in Darcy’s real-life world has an effect on her novel, because she’s just left home, and so is growing up and learning an re-writing her novel all at the same time. She bases her novel on her mother’s childhood, on her parents’ religion, and even on her friends’ unpublished works in progress! It’s sort of my 150,000-word answer to the question, “Where do you get your ideas?” From all around. And as Darcy’s experiences make their way into her novel, hopefully that weaves the two strands together.

3. Through Darcy and Lizzie you touch on a lot of big, and often sensitive, issues. Do you think that there’s a limit to the number of subjects like terrorism, death, divorce that you can explore in one novel?
My favourite thing about the novel as a form is that it scales so well. You can flit about the whole world (as in Brooks’ World War Z) or keep yourself contained to a single room (as Donoghue’s Room mostly does). Likewise, you can go big with issues, or very small. This is perfect for teenagers, who spend a lot of time thinking about both big and small stuff. They have a lot of specifics to deal with, as well as the whole world to inherit.

A few quick ones!

4. Favourite world?
The real one. It’s so much gnarlier and more complicated than any fictional world.

5. Fictional universe you’d like to live in?
Anything with personal flight. Hoverboards, dragon mounts, superpowers – I’m there.

6. Current read?
Matt de la Pena’s The Living. A tidal wave in California, from the perspective of a cruise ship cabin boy. All the codes of wealth and power turned upside down, and a great adventure novel to boot.

Thank you so much Scott! Make sure you check out my review of Afterworlds and then race to your nearest bookshop to buy yourself a copy – it’s out today!


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