Trina Warren didn’t plan on being anyone’s hero.
She planned on going to fourth period as normal. But then there was a bang, and an overturned chair and everything was different.
Now Trina finds herself in a fantasy world, pursued by a faceless, nameless monster that only she can stop.
Just one second is all it takes for Trina to turn from a regular clumsy high school girl, to a monster-fighting warrior. Just one second is all it takes for everything to change …
1. Do you always take a book/e-reader wherever you go?
Not absolutely everywhere, but if I’m going to have any down time at all, then yes. I also carry audiobooks on an old fashioned ipod, the little square ones that fit in that otherwise useless tiny pocket-in-a-pocket you get on the right front of your jeans. That way I have words to listen to wherever I am. I only use e-readers if I have the time to consume an entire book in a sitting or two, otherwise I prefer paper.
2. Say someone asks if they can use your name in a book. Would you rather be the ‘good one’ or the ‘bad one’?
I think it might depend in who the writer was J
3. Where can I find you when you are reading?
Sprawled on the living room couch in silence.
4. Where can I find you when you are not writing/reading?
Walking, preferably on hills or in forest, or at home, especially in these pandemic days. Not a big socializer.
5. Can you walk past a bookstore without going inside?
Ha. I can, though I’d prefer not to. In truth though, in the US, that situation comes up far less than you might think. Not many physical books stores have survived the decline of malls and the rise of the internet. It’s one of the things I like about the UK, the persistence of high street bookstores. Sometimes I go into bookstores to browse and sign any of my books they happen to have. I always ask first. Once, a shop assistant said “Sure. Go ahead. Only, usually, we only let the authors sign them.” I’m not sure what she thought was happening.
6. What are you most proud of?
My son. No contest, though that’s on him, not me. As far as my writing is concerned, I’m far less sure. The odd idea or phrase, the echo of a theme established earlier in the book as it chimes distantly near the end. But in truth it’s always fragments, momentary flashes where I see what I might be able to do better next time. A writing career is a quest, or at least it is for me, a constant slog up the mountain in the hope I’ll find something, do something, worth the effort. The goal posts are always moving, the target always receding. I aspire to be proud of my work. I suspect I always will.
7. What goes through your mind when you hold your new book in your hands for the first time?
A sense of wild joy and delight, a thrill of achievement, like stooping to have someone hang a medal round your neck. This lasts about a second and a half, a bit longer if I like the cover, or if there’s a cool blurb on the back. Then I start thinking about what my next book will look like. I know this is not especially healthy, may even be a pathology, but it pushes me to write more, to improve.
8. What piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Read constantly and critically. Force yourself to identify what works and what doesn’t in other people’s work so you can learn from them, then—when you feel good about what you’ve written—share it with people and pay attention to what they say. You won’t please everyone, but look for patterns of agreement in what they say. You have to write what you want to write, what you need to write, the kinds of stories you want to read, but unless you are going to be a diarist whose work never goes out into the world, you have to pay attention to what other people think.
9. Who would you like/have liked to interview?
So many authors, though I’m also afraid of learning things about writers that make me like their work less. Sometimes it’s best to let their books speak. I’m a Shakespearean, so that’s an obvious choice, though I wouldn’t know what to ask him. Maybe I’d rather just follow him around for a while, listen to him chat to his friends, watch his eyes, especially during a rehearsal of one of his plays. That’s less about looking for insight into his work than it his curiosity about the man himself. I’d love to have chatted to the late Terry Pratchett for similar reasons, but even there I don’t think I’d want to do a formal interview. Sometimes I think that the best things authors produce operate below or beyond their conscious intents, and they couldn’t explain them to you. What they can talk about is mostly mechanics, the nuts and bolts of how they work. I’m a great believer in and fan of those writerly mechanics, but the lightning that powers the machine, the flashes of brilliance? I’m not sure we know where they come from.
10. When and where do you prefer to write?
Mornings, usually early. At home and in silence with the door closed. No music on, no background news. Just me and the words. Afternoons are for rereading and editing of stuff I wrote weeks or months earlier. But the real work, the labour, and—if you are very, very lucky—the magic, that comes first thing, when you are fresh, when your dreams have reminded you that you can make things up.
Thank you, A J Hatley and Love Books Group
About the author
Though I live in the USA now (where all my books were first published), I was born and grew up in Lancashire. After attending Manchester University I left the UK to work in Japan, and eventually wound up in graduate school in Boston. I now live in Charlotte, North Carolina, where I teach Shakespeare at university there.
I’ve written long fiction all my life, and started publishing novels (mainly with Penguin) in 2005. I write for kids and adults, and (as you’ll see if you poke around) in various genres. Can’t seem to limit myself to one kind of story 🙂
I’m married with a son, and various animals, one of which–the dog–promises to be the size of a horse soon. I make beer and, occasionally furniture. I used to paint (not especially well) and play guitar and piano (likewise) but I struggle to find the time these days.