Sunday, July 26, 2015

Guestopia: Interview with author Fleur Ferris

Today, I am super excited to welcome Australian YA author Fleur Ferris to YAtopia. And very lucky we are to have her, too. Her debut, Risk, was highly anticipated and, since its launch just last week, it's already making waves. So read on to find out a little more about Fleur and Risk! Then, I strongly recommend you go out and buy a copy.

Hi Fleur, thank you so much for joining us today and massive congratulations on the launch of Risk. Let's get to it!

Is this your first published book?
What’s it called?
Which genre?
Contemporary fiction
Which age group?

Young Adult - 13 +
Is it a series or standalone?
Are you an agented author?
Yes. I’m represented by Tara Wynne of Curtis Brown Australia.
Which publisher snapped up your book?
Random House Australia.
How involved have you been in the whole publishing process of your book?
The team at Random House have involved me, and kept me informed, every step of the way.
Do you have another job?
Yes. I am a mum of three kids and I manage our rice farm.
Did you receive many, if any, rejections prior?
I have received rejections for other manuscripts, but not for Risk. Random House Australia was the first (and only) publisher to read it. 
What created/what were you doing or watching when the first idea for this book sneaked up on you?
My inspiration for writing Risk came from a number of incidents. The first occurrence was when a friend contacted me, worried about her fourteen-year-old daughter, who had fallen for a guy she had met online. It became apparent to the mother that her daughter’s new friend was much older than he said he was and she feared that her daughter was being groomed by a predator. When the mother phoned the guy to confront him, he hung up, disconnected his phone and never made contact with the daughter again. Police were unable to identify him.  
How long did you plot/plan until you started writing it?
I thought about it and researched for a couple of months. Once the characters were so vivid they seemed real, and when scenes played out in my head as though I was watching a movie, I began writing.
One you started, did the story flow naturally or did you have to step in and wrestle it into submission?
Once I started writing Risk, I couldn’t stop. I lived and breathed it and worked at ridiculous hours. It poured out of me in an adrenaline-fuelled rush.
How many drafts did you write before you let someone read it? Who was that someone?
One. Richard Duerden was the first person to read it. He is an Englishman teaching English in a Swedish secondary school and we met on a writers’ website called You Write On. Richard critiqued the first 7000 words of my fifth novel, Jolted. He liked it so much that he asked to read the full manuscript. By this stage I had already started writing Risk. He read what I had done and then read the chapters as I wrote them. He thought both books were very relevant to the students he was teaching. Once I finished writing the first draft of Risk, Richard asked permission to read it as a class text with his Year 8 English class. The response and feedback was so positive that the school is going to read Risk as a class text again with more classes later this year, only this time it will be in proper book form.  
Roughly how many drafts did it take before you sent the manuscript off into the real world?
After finishing the first draft I got some feedback from my writing buddies and, as a result, I revised the second half of the book and then sent it to my agent. That was the copy that went to Random House.
How many drafts until it was published?
I did two structural edits and two copy edits with my editor at Random House.  
Has the book changed dramatically since the first draft?
No. The story didn’t change. It’s just much smoother, more consistent, much better.  
What part of writing do you find the easiest?
This is a difficult question to answer because each novel is so different – different plots and different characters. Risk is my 6th novel and I’ve written two more since writing it. I particularly love starting a new novel so I guess that would be what I find the easiest. Energy and enthusiasm is high, words flow, the characters are new and exciting.
What part do you find hardest?
Fixing plot holes has to be one of the most difficult and frustrating things about novel writing. When it happens, I think to myself, “How on Earth did I miss that?”
Do you push through writing barriers or walk away?
It depends. Sometimes thinking about something for a couple of days will bring the answer I need. If I can’t solve a problem in a manuscript, I’ll talk it through with someone.
How many projects do you have on the go at the same time?
So far I’ve only taken on two projects at the same time. When I’m writing a first draft, I put so much into my work that it is all consuming and I couldn’t imagine fitting anything else in (other than family). But while I edited Risk I adapted my middle-grade novel into a screenplay. Doing those two projects at once worked okay because they were so different and both stories were already written.   
Do you think you’re born with the talent to write or do you think it can be learned?
I believe some people are definitely born with the talent. I’ve met people who have had no formal training as a writer, yet they can belt out a gripping story that readers can’t put down. Having said that, I’ve also met plenty of people who have mastered the craft of writing and produce compelling stories – did they learn to write? Or were they born with the talent? I have no idea.     
How many future novels do you have planned?
I have more ideas for novels than the time to ever write them all. I can’t put a figure to this question. 
Do you write other things, such as short stories, articles, blogs, etc?
Not so much.
Give me five writing tips that work for you.
Write regularly.
Read widely.
Critique the work of other writers, have your work critiqued. There are great websites and competitions that involve the exchange of critiques.
Finish what you start.
Don’t stop when you finish. Write more novels.  
And one that doesn't.
Talk about wanting to write a book.
Can you give us a clue or secret about your next book?
I have just signed a contract with Random House for my next YA novel. The title is unconfirmed at this stage, but I can say it is another contemporary stand-alone and sits well alongside Risk. It will be out mid next year.

Thank you, Fleur, we wish you heaps and heaps of luck with Risk and all of your future books. We hope you'll come back when your next book is released. For more information about Fleur and Risk, check out these links!


So there we are, Risk is surely to be a runaway success. I've got my copy! GO AND BUY IT.