Monday, 15 February 2016

Marta's Bookshelf interviews Jenny Alexander!

Readers! I am so happy to announce that today I am bringing you a little bit closer to Jenny Alexander! As you all may already know, I am a huge fan of her first YA novel, Drift, so when she agreed to answer some of my questions, I was in heaven! She is a wonderful woman with a very interesting and deep backstory... Let me introduce her and her novel!

ABOUT DRIFT.


"Jess doesn't talk ever since her brother committed suicide. She is drifting away from people. Her best friend is already looking for someone else to spend time with. Her mum isn't the same and her dad only drinks and complains.
Jess is stuck in her silent world and doesn't know how to move on from Sebastian's death. 
She doesn't talk, so she writes."

194 pages.

Published September 10th, 2015 by Five Lanes Press.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR.

Jenny Alexander has written fiction and non-fiction for readers of all ages in the course of a career spanning more that 20 years. You can find out lots more about her life and work on her website www.jennyalexander.co.uk



MY INTERVIEW WITH JENNY:

Hello, Jenny! Thank you so much for stopping over at Marta's Bookshelf! It's such an honor to have you here today!

I hope you have as much fun answering these questions as I had creating them.

1. When did you decide you wanted to write Drift?

I think I always knew I would want to write about losing someone to suicide because it was such a life-changing experience for me. My first instinct was to do it as a self-help book for young people but when I couldn’t get a publisher on board with that idea, I started thinking about writing it as a YA novel.

2. How long did it take you to write the book?

I wrote the first version more than 10 years ago. My agent loved it, and we had great feedback from the publishers she sent it to, but they decided it was ‘too quiet for the market.’ I set it aside and tried to forget about it, but it wouldn’t go away, and when I got a new agent she helped me to update and redraft it last year.

3. As you once said on your blog, "It’s her story, not mine, but because of my story, I knew how to write it."... Was it hard for you to write about such a sensitive topic that had actually affected you?

This is a great question, Marta. I wrote about my own experience in the memoir section of my adult book, Writing in the House of Dreams, and didn’t find that difficult at all, so I thought writing someone else’s story would be just as easy. But actually when you write fiction, you have to inhabit your character completely, to be in their life and feel what they’re feeling, whereas when you’re remembering your own story in memoir you’re talking about things in the past that you’ve come to terms with and feel OK about now. I had to rewrite the more emotional passages in Drift several times, and every time, it broke my heart for Jess.

4. Define Drift with three words.

The first would be ‘real.’ I think that’s what publishers mean when they say something’s ‘too quiet’, but I personally find real life very interesting.
The second would be ‘life-affirming.’ Every time we overcome feelings of loss and despair, as Jess does in the story, we are making a decision to love life.
The third… hmm. Maybe thoughtful? Poetic? What would you say?

Beautiful. Deep. I have a ton of possible answers for this one. 

5. Is there any funny, weird or special thing that took place while you were writing the novel that you want to share with us?

Something special did happen to me as a writer – I found I could write about difficult things without using humour. Before I wrote Drift all my fiction had been funny, even when it was about characters who were going through difficult experiences such as bullying. It felt brave to go there without the protective armour of jokes.

6. Let's talk about the future... What are you working on at the moment? Can we expect another YA novel in the near future?

Right now, I’m finishing a fantasy novel I started writing last year – my first shot at fantasy – for readers age about 9-12. After that, I’m thinking about an idea that will probably end up being an adult/YA crossover novel.

7. If Drift was being turned into a movie and you could choose the cast, who would you like to play your characters?

I think I’d have to let the Director decide that!

8. Which country do you want the movie to be shot in?

When I wrote the book, I was thinking about the London suburbs, where I grew up, but I guess any suburban environment would do. Sadly, suicide and the trail of grief it leaves behind is no respecter of national boundaries.

9 After choosing the actors and the setting, it's time for the music... Which song must be on the soundtrack?

How about Katie Melua ‘I cried for you’? Such beautiful lyrics.

10. The trailer is about to be released... Which epic quote from the book do you want to be said in it?

‘You were my big brother, Seb; you had always been there and I assumed you always would be there, forever. I could never have imagined, back then, that I would ever have to live without you.’
Jenny on the right, Su in the middle.

11. Finally, your book adaptation won an Oscar and it's time for your speech! Who do thank and why?

I would have to thank my sister, Su, for being a brilliant big sister. When she killed herself, I was 23 and going through a tough time too. I had the tablets and the plan, but she got there first. Losing her made me understand that I had to stop even thinking that way, and learn to love my life.
I would also thank my ex-husband, who loved and supported me through those tough years, and is still a really important presence in my life.
Then I’d probably blub like Gwynneth Paltrow and embarrass everyone!Mostrando IMG_1981.jpeg

It's been a pleasure to have you on my blog, Jenny! Make sure you keep writing as beautifully as you do... And hopefully, I'll be having another interview soon!

Thank-you for having me, Marta.

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