The Interview: Bookbag Talks To L A Weatherly

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The Interview: Bookbag Talks To L A Weatherly

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Summary: If you're into that whole paranormal romance thing, you're going to love Angel by L A Weatherly. It's a breathtaking helter-skelter of a story in which two young people learn to trust in and love one another as they battle predatory angels. L A Weatherly is doing the rounds on a blog tour and she kindly called in on Bookbag. We persuaded her to tell us all about Angel and how she came to write it.
Date: 30 September 2010
Interviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy

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If you're into that whole paranormal romance thing, you're going to love Angel by L A Weatherly. It's a breathtaking helter-skelter of a story in which two young people learn to trust in and love one another as they battle predatory angels. L A Weatherly is doing the rounds on a blog tour and she kindly called in on Bookbag. We persuaded her to tell us all about Angel and how she came to write it. Oh, and if you've happened along before the closing date (31 October 2010), hurry over to the review page, because you could win yourself a copy!

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

L A Weatherly: Probably myself when I was younger (or even myself now). I try to write the stories that I myself would love to read, and just hope that other people will enjoy them, too.

  • BB: Why do you think people are so attracted by the paranormal at present? Is this specifically a Young Adult phenomenon?

LW: I don't think it's entirely a new thing - for instance, Anne Rice was huge when I was a teenager. Although a lot of adults are very into it at as well, I do feel this genre speaks easily to teenagers, with its themes of alienation and the 'other' within us which we don't quite understand. And of course there's also the appeal of something a bit forbidden and unknown.

  • BB: That makes complete sense to us. What is the difference between books for adults and for young adults? Is it only the age of the protagonists which separates them?

LW: Sometimes there's no difference; look at crossover fiction. In the fantasy genre at least, I think the difference comes down primarily to pacing. Adult fantasy novels are likely to be much denser and longer, though may still have teenage characters. In writing teenage fantasy, while I hope that the world itself has consistency and depth, I'm not trying to portray it in a 'dense' way, and keep a real eye on moving the story forward. (Which again is me writing something that I personally would love to read!)

  • BB: There's nothing wrong with writing what you'd like to read yourself! We think it's an excellent starting point! There are a large range of social networking possibilities on the Angel website. How involved were you in this?

LW: Not very much; I was busy writing Angel when they put the site together. However, I do blame Usborne for getting me addicted to Twitter. ;-)

  • BB: We suffer from Twitteritis also. It's a sticky site! You have written several books (Child X, Kat Got Your Tongue and now Angel) where girls struggle with their identity because of their parents. Why do you return to this theme?

LW: Ooh, very astute! You've pinpointed THE theme to my work - identity. How much are we the mask we show the world? Missing Abby and Breakfast at Sadie's both focus on this as well. I suppose as writers, we all return to the themes that have personal resonance to us. (In my case, it was so unconscious that I didn't even realise I was doing it until someone pointed it out to me.) I've always been fascinated by the 'mask' that we sometimes show the world, and whether or not it tallies with the inner us. Though in the case of Angel, it's more a literal question than an emotional one!

  • BB: That's fascinating! Do you plan in great detail before you begin to write? Did you know how the third book was going to end before you began to write Angel?

LW:Yes, I do plan a lot, though with longer novels it doesn't always help; they have a way of taking on a life of their own. But yes, I've known from an early stage how the trilogy is going to end, and can hardly wait to write it. It's going to be very sad, but hopefully really lovely, too.

  • BB: Oh, don't make us cry! We cry very easily, you know! Authors usually say they love their current book best. But when you look back after a very long and successful life, which book do you think you will be most proud of having written?

LW: Thanks, I hope you're right that my life will be both long and successful! ;-) I can't really say, though, as there might be books I haven't written yet which would fall into this category. But if I had to choose now, it would definitely be Angel. Writing it was an extremely intense experience, and also represented the fulfillment of having known and loved Alex and Willow as characters for many years now. Alex in particular has been tugging on me for so long that I really don't know what it's going to be like to finally exorcise him from my writing-world.

  • BB: It always fascinates us that writers have such person "relationships" with their characters. Which books would you recommend every girl to read? Which authors have influenced your work?

LW: Some of my favourites are actually the classics - things like A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and The Railway Children (I adore E. Nesbit!). I also loved Noel Streatfeild growing up, and still do. Authors who have influenced me would have to include Stephen King (for a complete change of gears!). His dialogue especially is wonderful; I learned a lot just from reading his work. S.E. Hinton (The Outsiders) was a big influence, too.

  • BB: What do you see as the purpose of your books? Are they solely to entertain, or do you have some message also?

LW: Mostly to entertain. If I can write a book that someone stays up until 3am reading, then I'm very, very happy. Yes, there are issues and ideas there that might make you think as well, but that's not primarily why I write, and I'm never trying to impart a particular 'message'.

  • BB: Successful books are discussed as potential films almost before their publication date. How do you feel about this happening to your own books?

LW: It's a sign of enthusiasm for the story, so I think it's great! It's been a lot of fun, having people discuss this about Angel. Who knows if it will actually happen or not, but fingers crossed.

  • BB: We're crossing fingers and toes for you! You have written a wide variety of books, including paranormal romance (Angel), fairies (Glitterwings Academy), magical animals (Pocket Cats) and thrillers about real-life situations (Missing Abby). How do you manage to move from one style to the other?

LW: I've also written a new series for younger readers, Seahorse Stars, which will be coming out with Usborne in 2011 - and at times, was juggling that with the much darker and older Angel! To shift from one style to another, I often have talismans for each particular project to put me in the mood - for instance, a glass seahorse that I had out when I was writing Seahorse Stars, or even just playing particular music as I write.

  • BB: When you start a new book or series, do you start with characters or situations?

LW: Usually situations. The characters begin falling into place very quickly, though, and start making their demands known!

  • BB: Villains can be fascinating characters. But how difficult is it to create an interesting character that is not evil?

LW: The key is to really get to know them and allow them to be real, flawed individuals with problems. It's the faults that make characters interesting. Working out a character's backstory gives you lots of information about who they are and what makes them tick. Quite often you just find things out as you go along, too. For instance, I didn't know that Alex spoke Spanish until I got to a particular scene in Angel and he suddenly started speaking it! And now that's been a huge influence on the setting for book 2.

  • BB: If only language-learning were that easy in real life! You are not only an author but also a literary consultant. What advice would you give a young person who wants to write?

LW: Note to self - must update my bio; I haven't done that in some time! I still teach writing courses regularly, though. I think the best advice is to read lots, and to write the sort of thing that you love to read. And to keep at it. You get better with practice.

  • BB: If you had the power, what one thing would you change in the world of children's books?

LW: It would be great if books for teenagers were more often displayed in separate sections away from the 'children's' area. Some bookstores do this, but many still don't, and I think it quite rightly puts a lot of teenagers off from seeking these books out.

  • BB: What's next for L A (or Lee) Weatherly?

In the immediate future, Angel 2 and 3 (Angel Fire, which I'm working on currently, and Angel Fever). After that, there's a stand-alone YA dystopian romance that I really want to write - very dark and creepy. The main characters are currently standing impatiently in the wings, waiting for me to get to them!

  • BB: Oh wow! We love dystopian fiction, so we're looking forward to that one! Thanks so much for calling in to see us on your blog tour, Lee, and thanks for Angel too. We think it's absolutely super.


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