YAShot Author Interview: Rhian Ivory

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I am a firm believer in fate. It’s how some of the best things in my life have come about. A succession of seemingly random events that result in a friendship or a job or whatever- always, at least so far, something good.

Rhian at UKYAX!

Rhian at UKYAX!

That’s kinda how this blog post came about.

I first heard Rhian talk about her latest book at UKYAX and was incredibly intrigued. Then, at YALC, she came and sat next to me during a panel event and we got chatting. So when Lexi contacted me about taking part in the blog tour and floated the idea of me interviewing Rhian, I knew it was meant to be…

And you know, I love YA and I love shots… Shots of coffee of course! But YA Shot is about so much more than that. Not only is it going to be an amazing day in Uxbridge filled with panels and workshops and all kinds of fun and shenanigans with over 70 authors and bloggers/vloggers, it’s also this:

Best of all, YA Shot is to be a flagship event, launching a year-long programme of free author visits to libraries across Hillingdon. Local libraries are best placed to identify which local schools are least able to access author visits. Through the YA Shot year-long programme, the libraries can invite disadvantaged schools to a free event to help fill this gap and also remind teens how brilliant libraries are. Library membership and borrowing drops off sharply in the teen years: the YA Shot programme hopes to help remedy this in addition to encouraging a passion for reading and creative writing.

(pinched from www.yashot.co.uk – why not visit the site and find out more?!)

So without further ado, let’s crack on with the show!

Hi Rhian! Welcome to Parallel Lines and the YA Shot Blog Tour! For those who haven’t met you before, tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve been writing since I was 5, published since I was 25, so a 20 year stretch isn’t too long to wait. My 5th book The Boy who Drew the Future has just come out, my 6th is with my editor and I’ve started my 7th. I was an English and Drama teacher for several years before getting my first book deal but the dream was always to be a writer. For some strange reason lots of people laughed at me when I said that, who’s laughing now careers advisor? I’m a Patron of Reading, a National Trust Writer in residence and a big fan of red fizzy laces. All the important areas covered I feel, let’s move on to Q2.

What made you want to be involved in YA Shot?

Alexia Casale! When Lexi asked me if I’d be one of the authors involved I jumped at the chance. I so enjoyed YALC this year and knew that with Lexi in charge YAShot would be an outstanding event. UKYA has really taken off in the last two years with UKYAExtravaganza organised by Emma Pass and Kerry Drewery and now YAShot, I really hope that there’ll be YAShot2016 too.

How do you feel about libraries and their role in teen reading? What are your memorable library experiences?

My relationship with libraries started very early with a mobile library van in Wales. I grew up in a tiny village in the Brecon Beacons so the library van was so important. I remember the lady letting me borrow far more books that I was allowed. I go to the library every week with my 3 children, we now have to take a bag for life because we also borrow audio books. I would be quite lost without my local library in Towcester which is one of the best libraries I’ve come across. It breaks my heart to think of schools without libraries, which is why I applaud and stand with all the authors and people campaigning to keep libraries open and receive much needed funds. My children’s school has three libraries! 3! How fantastic and rare is that.

Do you think author visits in schools are important? As a teacher? And as an author yourself?

Hugely important and it isn’t just that I think this, it has been proven. It is a fact.

When I was in school we didn’t have author visits and I’m so glad that teachers and librarians now appreciate and understand the value and impact an author visit can have on a school. I’m very proud to be a Patron of Reading and visit Akeley Wood School as much as I can. There’s something very special about building up a relationship with a school. Also as an ex-teacher author visits remind me of how much I like working with a group of students, reading to them and talking about books. I honestly don’t miss the marking though.

What was your favourite subject in school?

Drama. Without a shadow of a doubt, GCSE Drama lessons were the highlight of my week and the place I was most happy in school.

Tell us a little about your journey from the slushpile to here (here being the awesomeness of your FIFTH book hitting the shelves!)

I got incredibly lucky when I sent my book in unsolicited to Bloomsbury. I really was found on the slushpile by Emma Matthewson (J.K.Rowling’s editor) and offered a 2 book deal, followed by another 2 book deal. Looking back I don’t think I fully appreciated how lucky I was, such a fluke that the title stood out and someone took the time to read it and pass it on to Emma. If it weren’t for that lucky moment I wouldn’t be releasing my 5th book now.

Talking of Rhian’s 5th book- here it is:

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Two boys, over a hundred years apart, have the same gift or curse — they draw things that come true.

Blaze (1860s) swaps his pictures for protection, with threats of the workhouse and witch trials hanging over him.

Noah (2010s) tries all he can to stop drawing, but the more he fights, the more it takes over. He just wants to pass for normal in his new school. As he gets closer to Beth, will he give himself away?

One boy hiding in the past, one in the present. Can their futures set them free?

(from Firefly Press)

 

The Boy who drew the Future is now out in the big wide world- how does that feel?

Honestly? Quite surreal. It has taken me seven years to get this book right and many drafts before I was finally happy with it. I can’t wait to see it in a bookshop, out in the real world.

What were your inspirations behind the story?

I dreamt the ending one night and told myself to remember it in my dream. I didn’t until hours later when someone broke my dream and I ran upstairs, grabbed a notebook and wrote it down. Then I had to work out how to get to the beginning of the story and find out who on earth this Noah boy was and how could he draw the future? So many questions!

The Boy who drew the Future tells two stories, intertwined. How did you go about writing this?

Originally the story was Noah’s alone. I wrote the whole book just about him but I kept seeing a ghost walking behind Noah, accompanied by a black dog. Blaze’s voice came to me one morning, so easily and vividly as if he were sitting next to me telling me his story. I went on a writer’s retreat and wrote his first proper chapter and didn’t look back. Once I’d got his story down I then did a lot of research about the 1860s, Sible Hedingham and the real Sible Hedingham Witch Trial, which was fascinating.

Can you tell us anything about book number six?! I think so…well just between us it is a contemporary fairy tale retelling of The Little Matchgirl. I loved writing this book because it is unlike anything I’ve written before, in fact it was my agent’s idea, she’s a clever one that Kirsty McLachlan.

CRAZY FUN-TIME QUICK FIRE ROUND:

Books or e-books? Books of course! You cannot hug a Kindle but I do use my Kindle to edit my own writing.

Notepad or IPad? Notepad every time, clearly I’m an old fashioned girl but there’s nothing lovelier than choosing a new notebook. My editor’s just bought me a beautiful blue one with my name on it, now as a Rhian I can tell you there’s not much out there with my name on it!

Pictures or words? I’d have to say words otherwise I’d be out of a job but I am a huge art fan (as you may have guessed if you’ve read the book) and was thrilled to be able to work with the artist Guy Manning on the book cover for The Boy who Drew the Future.

Past or future? I always used to want to know about the future, what would be around the bends in the road for me but as I get older I’m drawn more to the past.

Blaze or Noah?! No way! I can’t choose between my boys. Can I pick Beth instead? She’s pretty amazing.

Rhian will be appearing at YA Shot on the panel:

Playing with Time: Historical fiction and historical settings

Chaired by Natasha Farrant with Lucy Coats, Rhian Ivory and Alison Rattle

11.30am -12.30pm

The Boy who drew the Future is out now, published by Firefly Press.

Follow Rhian on Twitter: @rhian_ivory

*GIVEAWAY!*

Not got your copy of The Boy who drew the Future yet?! For your chance to win the book, along with a poster and postcard, simply share a link to this blog post on Twitter using the hashtag:

#tbwdfcomp

UK entrants only.  Closing date: 11/10/2015. A winner will be chosen at random. Good luck!

Did you know?!

You can get an awesome mug with a quote from the book over on RedBubble!

It was created by the multi-talented Susie Day (@mssusieday) for her UKYA shop wehavecrisps. Check it out here.

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