|Photo sourced from author's website|
Today is the last day of NYWM and to be honest I'm a little sad - but don't become infected by my melancholy thoughts too soon. As a special treat here is an interview I recently conducted with Leanne Hall, author of This is Shyness. She has a website here and is currently working on a sequel (I can't wait to read it!).
Leanne and I originally tried to chat via smoke-signals, but eventually we had to resort to ordinary email. We probably should have stuck with the smoke-signal idea though because email has just as much delay-time.
BC: Hi Leanne. For those who haven't read This is Shyness, could you please describe your book in six words or less? (You get bonus points for transfiguring your novel into a six word story precisely.)
LH: Girl meets boy in dark suburb.
BC: Did you imagine that your debut novel would be anything like This is Shyness? I ask because the book has a very distinct style that disassociates itself with the cliched "werewolf and helpless girl" genre. (It quite literally cuts it up into little pieces and stomps on the remains...going on from that line of thought are you a fan or hater of the recent werewolf/vampire craze?)
LH: Well, I had a lot of trouble for a long time even imagining that I would ever get a novel published! But I guess if I was going to be published then it was always going to be like This Is Shyness. When I look at the way I write, in short stories and poems and journal entries going way back, there's some sort of consistency there. Even if I tried to write a story that was completely `realistic', I'm sure that odd `unreal' elements would always creep in.
When I write I don't think about what anyone else is doing, or what books are already out there, or what's popular at the moment. I just do my thing. But I will say that I wanted to created a main character in Wildgirl that was definitely not the `helpless girl.' I've said a few times that I think Wildgirl is a bit like how I wished I had been at high school (but never was).
I do quite enjoy werewolf and vampire books. Some books in that genre can be a bit predictable, but sometimes it's quite comforting to read something for pure entertainment. And some books in that genre are nothing short of brilliant. I loved Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, and although it's not a young adult book, Let The Right One In (John Ajvide Lindqvist) is a stunning and strange vampire book.
BC: You definitely have a point - Shiver was an outstanding novel. I guess what I was trying to convey was that it's so great to find a book that gives the reader a bit of 'fresh air', which is exactly what I think This is Shyness does. Just out of curiosity, what did you do when you found out that you won the Text Publishing Prize? Hug random strangers? Sing on the bus?
LH: I was at home and in the middle of doing a Friday Dress-Up when I got the call about winning the Text Prize. So I was wearing a silly costume (I believe it was a brown paper dress scribbled with bad poetry) while trying to maintain a serious conversation. I did have a bit of a shriek and a jump up and down with my housemate, and then went on a very long walk to calm down. I was in a state of shock for days.
BC: I can imagine! Lastly, what can we expect from Leanne Hall in the (somewhat near) future?
LH: I'm writing a sequel to This Is Shyness which will be published by Text sometime next year. It's called Queen Of The Night, and starts six months after This Is Shyness finishes. I think that's all I can say about it! Beyond that, I have several novel ideas vying for my attention, so I will have fun seeing which of them have legs.
BC: Thanks Leanne, and good luck with it all!