The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Cath Crowley

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The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Cath Crowley

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Summary: This has been an incredible year for YA contemporary books, and James would be hard-pressed to choose his favourite. A strong contender, though, would be the long-awaited UK release of Cath Crowley's Graffiti Moon, an enchanting story of one incredible night. It's lyrical, romantic, and full of wonderful characters. He was absolutely thrilled to be able to talk to Cath Crowley about it!
Date: 30 October 2012
Interviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James

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This has been an incredible year for YA contemporary books, and James would be hard-pressed to choose his favourite. A strong contender, though, would be the long-awaited UK release of Cath Crowley's Graffiti Moon, an enchanting story of one incredible night. It's lyrical, romantic, and full of wonderful characters. He was absolutely thrilled to be able to talk to Cath Crowley about it!

  • Bookbag: When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?

Cath Crowley: If I think about my readers too much, I don’t write. I worry about what they’ll think and then the whole process shuts down for me.

But based on the emails I get from people, my readers seem like a lovely bunch. They’re interested in art and language and music and ideas. They’re funny and they’re a little unsure of who they are sometimes. If I have to picture anyone, I picture that type of crowd.

  • BB: I'm a big fan of dual narratives and the main part of Graffiti Moon is, of course, Ed and Lucy's narration - along with some fabulous poems from Poet as well. Did you always know you were going to write it in this way?

CC: I always (with the exception of one book) write dual narratives. I like the play that it allows – play in dialogue and perspective. I like drilling into characters and I find this easier to do when I’m writing in the first person. The Howling Boy is another dual narrative and after that, I might spend some time experimenting with narration styles to test myself a bit.

  • BB: I absolutely loved the chemistry between your two main characters in Graffiti Moon! What's your own favourite example of fictional chemistry?

CC: Thank you.

It’s hard to pick a single favourite. I loved Westley and Buttercup in The Princess Bride (William Goldman), Lana and Chet in The Decoding of Lana Morris (Laura and Tom McNeal), Anne and Gilbert in Anne of Green Gables, Tristran Thorn and Yvaine in Stardust (Neil Gaimon), Dan and Estelle in Six Impossible Things (Fiona Wood), Dylan and Riley in Everything Beautiful (Simmone Howell).

For family/friendship chemistry I read The Penderwicks (Jeanne Birdsall).

  • BB: Out of those, I've only read The Princess Bride and Stardust - sounds like I've got a few to check out when I get the chance!

Another thing I really enjoyed about the book was that it all took place in one hugely memorable night. Is there one night of your own teenage years which stands out as particularly memorable?

CC: I remember the first time my two best friends and I went to the city to stay with my older brother. I don’t remember the specific details. I know it was the first time we weren’t staying with grandparents or aunties. I remember freedom. I had a haircut and I felt not entirely uncool, like I usually did. I know I wore a dusky coloured 1950s dress from a secondhand shop and big black boots. I remember going to a club full of punks and Goths. I felt scared and excited and in the wrong place and in exactly right place all at the one time. I remember a fat silver moon, but I might have added that detail with time. I remember running along a road, but I’m not sure where to or what from.

  • BB: mentioned in my review that I wanted to quote a couple of particularly good lines, but couldn't narrow it down past a few dozen. If you had to pick, what would be your own favourite line?

CC: I like a light-scattered dream, mainly because that’s what the book is meant to feel like…

And maybe Lucy’s description of the heart as a fist-sized forest in our chest – the it makes me think about the strangeness of love…

  • BB: Art, of course, plays a massive part in Graffiti Moon. What's your all-time favourite piece of art?

CC: That’s another hard one – too hard to pick my all-time favourite. But the pieces I go back to…

Till the heart caves in by Michael Zavros. I’m lucky enough to have a print of this, sent to me by the artist sent me the piece after I won the PM’s Award. I look at it every day.

I love Claire Morgan’s Here is the end of All Things.

I’m loving The Little People Project at the moment.

  • BB: You've mentioned on your website and on Twitter that you do writing workshops in schools sometimes. What's the best part about working with young people?

CC: I learn a lot – about writing, about the world. Young people have been generous over the years – they’ve answered my questions about music, art, sport and school. I’m able to test my writing out too, which is always helpful.

  • BB: Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what was the soundtrack to Graffiti Moon?

CC: I do listen to music sometimes. A Little Wanting Song had a definite soundtrack (Natalie Merchant, Clare Bowditch and Fiona Apple were on high rotation.)

I didn’t have a set soundtrack for Graffiti Moon – I made one for Random Buzzers that you can read here. I listened to Something for Kate quite a bit – the song Say Something in particular.

I tend to pick something that’s fast, that I can play loud because it drowns the doubts out a bit, and I can slip into writing without worrying about whether it’s good or not.

  • BB: Soundtrack looks really interesting - although I think the only ones I know are I'm Your Man and A Girl Like You. Will definitely check out the rest!


If you could collaborate with another author on a novel, who would you choose and why?

CC: I’m collaborating with Fiona Wood (Six Impossible Things) and Simmone Howell (Notes from the Teenage Underground, Everything Beautiful) at the moment. So they were my first choice. I’d like to write more books with them. They capture small moments beautifully, they write smart, complex characters. I feel like I have to strive to be as good as they are…

  • BB: Wow - sounds fab! Can't wait. What's next for Cath Crowley?

CC: I’m working on The Howling Boy, out next year (hopefully), and then the book with Simmone and Fiona. And then after that I’m going to take a breath. And see.

  • BB: Best of luck with both of them, and for the future, Cath. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me!

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