Friday 15 January 2010

Featured on Friday: Emily Gale

Emily Gale is a picture book writer and Girl, Aloud is her first YA novel, published by Chicken House. Emily lives in Melbourne, but is a Londoner at heart.

1. Is there a specific time or place that you do your best writing in?
I have no routine whatsoever because I'm a full-time mum of two, and they both have an in-built tracker that lets them know if I've tried to sneak off to my room to write. I don't have a study or anywhere special like that, but I have a laptop so I tend to write in cafes at the weekend, or the library, or sometimes the local pub (not during a wild Friday night or anything like that). But from February I will have a whole day to myself. I can't quite believe it. Joy!

2. Who were your favourite authors as a teenager? Are they different to your current favourites?
I really loved Fay Weldon (eg. The Life And Loves of a She-Devil), Martin Amis (eg. The Rachel Papers) and lots of the classics like Pride and Prejudice and Wuthering Heights, though I've changed my mind in later years about the latter. I read a lot of poetry, too, anything from Keats to Sylvia Plath. I fancied myself something of a poet. I was WRONG (*quickly hides teenage poetry book*.) Now I like lots of teen authors like Simmone Howell and Luisa Plaja, and I tend to switch regularly between teen and general fiction. I love Kate Grenville, Kate Long and Ian McEwan. Oh, so many!

3. If you were only allowed to take three books to a desert island, what would they be?
I get really stressed about questions like this, as if I'm actually going to the island and it's all real... OK, I'll choose Pride and Prejudice (can I also take the dvd box-set starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth? and a dvd player? and some kind of power source? no, too much?), An Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville, and Girl, 15, Charming But Insane by Sue Limb. Please don't really send me to the island with only three books.

4. Is there a novel that you wish you’d written? Why?
There are loads. I suffer from extreme novel envy. I know you're supposed to love thyself and thine own work but I could make a long list of books I wish I'd had in me. But this is completely counterbalanced by how happy I am as a reader when I discover a book like that.

5. Why did you decide to write about mental illness?
I'm interested in how mental illness is still perceived in such a different way to other illnesses, which makes sufferers have a much harder time when it comes to admitting to a problem or seeking treatment. I've had a few brushes with mild depression. When I was writing Girl, Aloud there were quite a few celebrities coming out as sufferers of Bi-polar disorder (Stephen Fry made a very interesting documentary about it, for example), so it was being talked about but I wanted to write about an ordinary family and how it might affect them, in particular how it would affect a teenager. But I didn't want to write an 'issues' book as such, and I also knew that I wanted the book to contain plenty of light humour, as I'm interested in how humour can play a part in our lives even when we're under enormous stress. Indeed it's often a coping mechanism.

6. Where did you get the idea of Kass's conversations with Simon Cowell from?
Well we often dream about a situation we're dreading, and the last thing on earth Kass wanted was to meet Simon Cowell, so I thought it would be funny if she not only met him in her dreams but ended up bonding with him. I really enjoyed writing those bits. Simon Cowell is such a strange character - he's kind of awful and smug but I really like him.

7. Have you ever auditioned for The X Factor (or anything like it)?
Never anything on that scale, but I did audition for the musical Grease - my sixth form college production not the West End! I would have liked to play one of the French Ladies but I got the part of Sandy, which was much less fun. I still have anxiety dreams about that performance, like dreaming I'm on stage in five minutes and I can't remember any of my lines or fit into my costume. So Kass's stage fright is something I identify with. I had terrible stage fright aged 11 during a poetry recital and had to be carted off stage. I didn't, however, pee myself, unlike poor Kass.

8. Are you working on anything at the moment? Can you tell us anything about it?
My work-in-progress is about a girl who has absolutely no stage fright whatsoever - in fact she's more confident on stage than off. But her life changes when she dates a minor local celebrity, and being in the spotlight becomes more dangerous than thrilling. I'm weaving a bit of Alice in Wonderland into this story, but it's the same kind of feel as Girl, Aloud and I'm excited about it.

Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Sophie!

Thank you very much, Emily! You can visit Emily at her website here and read my review of Girl, Aloud here.



  1. Oh, wonderful interview - I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Thanks, both of you! I so agree about humour as a coping mechanism, and I love the way that was shown in Girl, Aloud.

  2. Fab interview - I can't wait to read Emily's next book!

  3. Hopefully I'll read Girl, Aloud soon :)

  4. Thanks for the interview! I can't wait to read Girl, Aloud!

  5. Reading the interview and comments unexpectedly transported my thoughts to growing up in Argentina, where both my sisters went to British schools for a major part of their education. Now my older son lives with his family in Oxfordshire, England and I am back in Texas, where I was born but not where I grew up or considered home as a child and teenager. Truth at times seems stranger than fiction.

    For some reason, none of this internationalism is present in my new release, Angela 1: Starting Over, the first of a series of three novels set in a coastal Texas high school. I just want to write an authentically (as opposed to stereotypically) Texan story about kids struggling to make adults live up to their own values. If you want to know more about the book, please click on my name and follow the link to my website. Thanks!

  6. Great book picks - Sue Limb is one of the funniest authors I've ever read. Thanks for the interview!


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