Keren David Talks To Bookbag About Choosing Archie Stone As The Narrator Of Another Life

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Keren David Talks To Bookbag About Choosing Archie Stone As The Narrator Of Another Life


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Summary: It's always fascinating to find out what makes an author write a book in a particular way. We've loved Keren David's series about Ty Lewis since we first read When I Was Joe so the opportunity to chat to her about the third book in the series was not one we were prepared to miss.
Date: 27 September 2012

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External links: Author's website

He's obnoxious, spoilt, snobbish, naïve, impossibly bouncy and fancies every female he comes across. Why (I asked myself often) did I pick Archie Stone as the main narrator of my latest book, Another Life?

Another Life is the third book in the trilogy which started two years ago with When I Was Joe. It's about Ty Lewis, an ordinary kid from Hackney who witnesses a crime and has to take on a false identity. I introduced Archie in the second book, Almost True when Ty is reunited with grandparents that he'd never met before. I needed a contemporary for Ty to interact with, so I invented an annoying rich cousin, Archie, who did everything possible to tease and torment poor Ty.

That probably would have been that for Archie, except my daughter, reading the book as I wrote it, developed a surprising liking for him. 'Bring back Archie,' she urged me as I wrote, so his role grew and grew, aiding Ty to run away, throwing a party for him, acquiring a girlfriend and visiting Ty in hospital. At first I found Archie just as annoying as Ty did. But later, somewhat to my surprise, Ty and I warmed to him. His stupid banter was more entertaining when it was clear that he was trying to cheer Ty up. Archie had a heart of gold buried under his designer clothes.

I had no plans to write any more about Ty, but when the first two did quite well I began to get letters from readers asking if there would be a third. Boys I met on school visits - quite scary boys - would ask firmly, 'When is the next book coming out?' One enterprising teen wrote to my publishers to demand that they commissioned another episode.

So I agreed to write a third book, and I had the idea that this book would show Ty from the outside, so the reader sees how easily he can be misunderstood and misinterpreted. I also wanted to put his story in a wider context, to show the vast gulfs and hidden connections between rich and poor in London. What better way to do so than to use Ty's wealthy cousin as a narrator?

I admit at first writing in Archie's voice made me grind my teeth. He's just so…so…annoying, especially when he's joking about corpses and fancying his aunt ('You are a pervert' said my daughter when she read that bit. I took it as a compliment.) He takes his many privileges for granted and looks down on people who haven't had his luck.

But as I explored his life a bit more, I began to feel sorry for him. Archie, like many middle class kids, has two busy successful parents who don't have much time for him. They send him to boarding school, which he doesn't like much, and they don't pay much attention to how he's spending his time. He's got a difficult relationship with his stressed and spiky father. Underneath all the bumptiousness, Archie is aimless, lonely and much less confident than he first appears.

Like a lot of teenagers, Archie's in a hurry to grow up, and he sees experimenting with drugs as a way to do that. After all, that's what his slightly older friends do, and their parents don't have much of a clue about what they are up to, or what to do about it.

I had plenty of source materials in creating Archie and his friends, particularly Julie Myerson's books The Lost Child and Living with Teenagers. Archie's friend Oscar and his family are pretty much based on the Myersons. I also read the reports of the death of a teenage girl at a party in West London. The party was hosted by another girl whose parents had gone out for the night to allow them to party in peace. A few teens searched the host's father's cupboard, looking for drugs; they found and took some ecstasy. One girl took two tabs and died, the father whose drugs they were was so consumed with guilt that a few days later tried to commit suicide.

Archie isn't the only narrator of Another Life, Ty has his own chapters. I decided not to mark the chapters in any way, so you have to work out from the voice and content who is speaking. Sometimes it's immediately obvious, sometimes less so. The point is that underneath all their differences, Ty and Archie are both daft but essentially normal teenagers, going through the painful process of growing up.

Despite their many mistakes, despite the things they do wrong, I ended up rooting for them both. I hope that readers will follow their story through all three books and do the same.

This interview was kindly given to us by the ever-generous Ya Yeah Yeah

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