The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Hilary Freeman

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The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Hilary Freeman

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Summary: We really loved the way that Hilary Freeman's Don't Ask looks at the way a lie can spiral and deals with some tough questions. We couldn't wait to ask her a few questions.
Date: 11 May 2011
Interviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James

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We really loved the way that Hilary Freeman's Don't Ask looks at the way a lie can spiral and deals with some tough questions. We couldn't wait to ask her a few questions.

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

Hilary Freeman: I see teenage girls with very good taste - although people from 10 - 93 (my gran and her friends in sheltered housing) have said they've enjoyed my books. I hope my readers can't put my books down. I'd like to think they find my books interesting and engaging, and that they make them think and laugh - and possibly even cry - occasionally too. I'd like to see a few more male readers. The covers put them off, but I think there's lots in them that boys would like too, if they'd give them a chance...

  • BB: I love the trailer and the website for the Camden Town tales! How important do you think it is these days for a YA book to have supplementary content on the internet?

HF: Thank you. I've done two trailers now, one for Lifted and one for the Camden Town Tales series. They're a great way of generating anticipation and suspense in the run up to publication. I think ignoring the internet as a marketing tool would be foolish nowadays. My target audience spend their lives on the web, so it's the best way to reach them. It's also a good way of reaching potential readers who might not see reviews. Unless you have a huge marketing spend on your book, publicity is hard to get, so things like trailers help a lot. It would be my dream for one of my books to be made into a film one day... having a trailer makes it feel a little like that.

  • BB: Have you ever thought about collaborating with another author on a novel? If so, who would be your dream writing partner? (Alive or dead, I'm feeling generous!)

HF: There are lots of authors who I rate very highly - Lucy Christopher and Anthony McGowan, to name just two in my market, but if I'm honest, I'm not sure I'd be very good at collaborating with anyone. I'd end up chatting and laughing all day instead of working - I'm easily distracted - and, I'll admit it, I'm also not very good at working with other people. I'm not the most patient person and I work best in total solitude and silence, so I can totally absorb myself in my work. I'm also not very self confident and I'd feel very vulnerable having another author read and criticise my work as I wrote it. I'd be happier contributing alternate chapters to a novel with another author - for instance, if a story was told from two points of view - or just having a story in an anthology with other authors. Of course, if Ian McEwan said he'd like to collaborate, I'd jump at the chance.

  • BB: I first became aware of your books when I read Don't Ask, the story of a girl creating a fake social network profile to find out about her boyfriend, which I loved. Are you a fan of social networking sites?

HF: Yes, I'm a facebookholic. I'm on it all day, chatting to friends, playing Scrabble and generally avoiding doing what I should be doing. I've joined Twitter too, but I don't get on with it - I prefer the interactive nature of Facebook. I've found Facebook a great way of hooking up with other authors. Did you know that Topfriendz, the site in Don't Ask, is a real social networking site, where you can chat to other readers and some of the characters? It's here.

  • BB: I know you're a big karaoke fan - which of your characters would you most like to do a duet with, and what would you sing?

HF: That's easy. Danny from Loving Danny - he definitely has the best voice of all my characters and, if I'm honest, I rather fancy him myself! We'd probably have to sing one of his songs - he's a bit serious about his art to do covers. But if I got him drunk enough, I might persuade him to sing the Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue duet, Where the Wild Roses Grow. It's one of my favourite Karaoke tracks.

  • BB: I'm hoping to get down to London over the summer and, shamefully, have never made it to Camden before! If I can change that, where's the best place to go to see awesome music?

HF: You've got to visit Camden! As far as music goes, it depends what you're into. Practically every pub in the area puts on music most nights, so you're bound to find a gem if you trawl around. The Dublin Castle is a great venue where everyone from Blur to Amy Winehouse, to indie bands you've never heard of, has played. The Roundhouse is a good place to see higher profile acts - the Electric Proms came from there. KoKo is good too. The Jazz Cafe is great for jazz, blues and soul. If you like classical music, check out Bartok on Chalk Farm Road.

  • BB: Do you listen to music when writing? If so what was the soundtrack to The Celeb Next Door?

HF: I don't. As I said earlier, I need silence when I'm writing. If I listened to music I'd just end up singing along! I need to give my poor neighbours a break sometimes. But if The Celeb Next Door had a soundtrack it would be full of the sort of indie anthems I imagine Fieldstar would play - plenty of Muse and Coldplay and Blur, that type of thing.

  • BB: What's your favourite ever purchase from Camden markets?

HF: I bought a fantastic old trunk, which now has pride of place in my living room, and a gorgeous wind up carousel toy, from the 1950s. I always regret not buying a vintage 1970s top for £30. It was by designer Ossie Clarke and it fitted perfectly. Two days after I decided not to buy it (in a moment of concern about my overdraft), Ossie Clarke died. Within weeks his clothes were being sold for thousands at auction!

  • BB: If you could ask any other author any question, what would you ask and who would you ask it to?

HF: Do you want me to be totally honest? Or give you a worthy, more thoughtful answer? OK, I'll be honest: I'd ask JK Rowling for some of her money so I can give up work and concentrate on writing novels instead!

  • BB: What's next for Hilary Freeman?

HF: I'm working on Camden Town Tales 2: Stuck on Me, which follows Sky, who develops an obsession with her nose and tries to track down her absent Dad, with the help of her friends. I'm late with delivering it (something that I hate, as a journalist), so I must motor! In fact, I should be writing it right now! Procrastination is one of my greatest talents.

Thanks so much for asking!

  • BB: We'll look forward to reading it, Hilary. Thank you for talking to us.

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