Interview with Karen Wrighton

Why did you choose to write for the Young Adult audience?
When I was young there were children’s books and there were adult’s books. From a very young age I loved reading and I gobbled up Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven like Chinese food, I never seemed to be able to get enough. I read pretty much all of them before I even started high school. Then there was little else to read apart from the traditional oldies like Alice in Wonderland and Black Beauty. Eventually I had no choice but to make the big jump into adult literature and I began reading classics like Little Women, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights as well as popular adult fiction such as John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit (I loved Science fiction and fantasy even then).
In those days there was little if any literature for the ‘gap’ between children’s and adult fiction and although I was able to make the jump quite easily, many of my contemporaries did not. Finding relatively few books that included teenage protagonists with whom they could identify, many of my friends just stopped reading. Some of them never read for pleasure again.
When my own children, both keen readers, approached that age I worried that the same thing would happen to them, but it didn’t, because there was a book out there that changed all that, it was called Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Instead of my children being turned off reading, they were turned on big time, and what’s more the books managed to bridge that ‘gap’ so seamlessly that I could even share the enjoyment of the stories with them. I thought that this was WONDERFUL, which is why it was the natural choice for me to write for this audience and join the ever growing number of YA authors who are successfully continuing what J. K. Rowling started and encouraging young people not to fall through that gap into the abyss of ‘Never to pick up a book again land’. However, this is not the only reason that I chose to write for young adults, perhaps the main reason is that, quite simply, I like young people, and I also happen to love to read the books that they love to read; books that produce a tingle down your spine as you read them, books that make you feel like a child at Disney Land, books that make you really BELIEVE in the magic of make believe. I hope that my books do that, and if they do I will be one very happy storyteller.
How did writing this book affect you?
I LOVED writing this book. I feel as if I have got to know a number of interesting characters so well now that it feels like my family has expanded. I love them all and feel a sense of protection for them similar to that I feel for my children. It is going to be so hard if I ever have to kill anyone off, it will be like losing a limb. I have heard authors talk about their books being their children and I never really got it until I had one of my own…

When my book was published, I constantly worried about it… Would people like it? Would it be as good as the other books out there? Would anyone be mean about it? Would they criticize me for being a bad author? I believed that my book was the best book ever written and that anyone would be a fool not to fall instantly in love with it… Yes it really is just like being a parent!
Q. What is the hardest part of writing for you?
I found dialogue hard at first. I had no problem with the plot, setting the scene or the characters, but thinking about what my characters would say to each other and their individual voices I found really difficult. However when I began to get to know the characters better it became much easier and so on the second and subsequent drafts I revised the dialogue so that it was more in character. The second book is proving much easier in this respect.
Q. Do you plan any subsequent books?
I am at present working on the first draft of second book in the Afterland Chronicles series, which has a working title of Ryte of Passage. I am also writing and illustrating a rhyming picture book, but that is taking a lot of time due to all the drawing that this entails.
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I suppose it is that I plot when I am driving. I have a really long commute to work every day, I teach Psychology at a college which is almost sixty miles from where I live and so I spend around three hours in the car every day. It is during this time that my best plot ideas come to me. I quite often have to pull off the road so that I can jot down ideas before they disappear from my head. The whole of the idea for the book series came to me on one of these commutes and the idea grabbed me so strongly that I knew that I just had to write it.
Please tell us a fun-fact about yourself!
I suppose one fun fact is that I have recently been designing and creating cartoons. I have a psychology blog SleeplessPsyche and I have produced a number of cartoon series based around psychology: Earthbound Humans, The Freudian Slips and Freudian Quips. I love finding humor in the people around me and find that I can say something important about us humans in a concise and humorous way through a cartoon, because a picture really does paint a thousand words.
Is there anything you haven’t written about that you would like to in the future?
I would like to write about so much. I have got at least ten ideas for novels swimming around in my head. I have started over a dozen books and Ascension of the Whyte is the first one that I have managed to get finished. I am planning on writing at least another two books in the series and then I have two more stories that I want to develop into novels, one of them has another strong female character (that may be linked to Rose, I am still thinking about that) and the other book which will be very different and will be more of a scientific, evolutionary and anthropological mystery.

I will definitely have to live to be over a hundred if I am to write all the books that are in my head.
Which of your characters would you want to be and why?
Oh that is a difficult one, Rose obviously has some amazing qualities and is a true leader, but like all leaders she has the weight of the world on her shoulders and leader is a lonely place. I love Ro-eh-na’s character, she has suffered more than most and is terribly disfigured because of it, but she still manages to remain humble and to care about others. She also has such a fiery temperament and is very driven and I really admire her spirit. I wish I could be that single minded sometimes.
How do you like to spend your spare time?
What spare time? I teach full time, write, blog, walk our dog, and look after my home and family, so my spare time is minimal. That said, I read audio books when I walk my dog (Jinks the collie), watch TV (I am a big Game of Thrones fan) and go to the cinema and theatre as often as I can. I love seeing film versions of books I love such as The Hunger Games and The Book Thief and I am a big John Green fan so I am looking forward to seeing the The Fault in Our Stars when I can get around to it, hopefully over the next few days.
When did you know you would be a writer?
Ever since I was a child I have been writing something. I have still got stories that I wrote when I was a child (they are not very good though). When I was a child I wanted to be an artist, a writer, and an archeologist (I made the first two, but got muddled with the third and became a Psychologist instead).

I loved anything about mythology, magic and science fiction from a very early age. I moved straight from Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven to John Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids and The Midwich Cuckoos. I was always writing my own stories and escaping into my own little world. I did not have a very happy childhood, so my writing it really was an escape for me.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Just that I really hope that you enjoy reading my book as much as I enjoyed writing it. I wish I could meet every one of you and discuss what you thought about it. I am very happy to answer any questions posted on Goodreads, my website or my blog. I am also open to all criticism as long as it is constructive because it is through listening to my readers that I will become a better writer. No one’s opinion is worth more to me than yours.
Karen
Published 2014-09-07.
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