Siobhan Curham is the author of five books. Her fourth novel, Dear Dylan, was published in April by Author House.
1. Is there a specific time or place that you do your best writing in?
I like to write best late at night, when most people are asleep and the world has quietened down. This isn’t always practical though, as I have to get up at six in the morning for my job as a children’s editor. Now I write whenever I get the chance, at any time of day or night – on the tube, in a café, in my head in a supermarket queue!
2. Who were your favourite authors as a teenager? Are they different to your current favourites?
As a young teenager I loved Judy Blume for the issues she covered in her books and her colourful characters. Then I went through a phase of loving really dark, powerful books like ‘1984’ by George Orwell and ‘The Bell Jar’ by Sylvia Plath. Now I like to read a lot of the latest teen fiction by writers like Rachel Ward, Jenny Valentine and Kate le Vann.
3. If you were only allowed to take three books to a desert island, what would they be?
‘Catcher in the Rye’ by JD Salinger, ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert and a collection of poems by Carol Ann Duffy.
4. Is there a novel that you wish you’d written? Why?
‘Catcher in the Rye’ – for the narrator’s voice alone. I’ll never forget first reading the book at the age of 13 and being blown away by the style. The way in which he talks directly to the reader was so exciting to me and it made me want to write.
5. Why did you turn down an offer with a traditional publisher to go down the self-published route?
I wrote ‘Dear Dylan’ to try and help teenagers who might be going through similar problems to Georgie. When a traditional publisher offered me a two book deal for it I was overjoyed. However, when they started to mess me about financially – offering me one thing verbally and quite another in my contract – I decided to bite the bullet and go it alone. It wasn’t a decision I took lightly, but I was so fed-up with being messed about I decided to give the e-version of the book away for free – something I never would have been able to do with a traditional publisher. Giving it away for free was also in keeping with the whole ethos behind the book; to try to help people. Hopefully this way it will reach as many young people as possible. Readers can download it from my website www.siobhancurham.co.uk
6. Dear Dylan encounters some heavy issues but manages to deal with them sensitively and realistically. How did you achieve this?
Thank-you. I am the mother of a teenage son and I do a lot of workshops in high schools. Through coming into close and regular contact with young people it reminds me of what a tough time the teenage years can be. It is very important to me that I keep it real though and don’t over-dramatise things. One key piece of advice I would give any aspiring writers out there is to always remember there are two sides to every story. If a character has a drink problem or is violent you have to ask yourself why that might be and try to show it in your story. Otherwise you risk ending up with characters who are two dimensional and unreal.
7. What made you decide to write Dear Dylan entirely in emails?
I thought it would be an interesting challenge as a writer and I also really like the way people tend to relax and let go in emails. I thought it would be a good opportunity to really get inside the heads of the two main characters and hear their voices. It was a lot of fun to write. Apart from the bit where they decide to meet and I had the challenge of how to let the reader know what happened. It’s not as if you email a friend just after meeting them to give them a blow by blow account of everything you have just done together – so that was a real tricky one for a while!
8. Are you working on anything at the moment? Can you tell us anything about it?
Thank you so much, Siobhan! You can visit Siobhan at her website and read my review of Dear Dylan here.