Blog Tour: The Night of the Party by Tracey Mathias
Today is my stop on the Night of the Party blog tour and I have for you all a quick interview with Tracey Mathias!
What is your favourite thing about writing books?
There are solitary pleasures: the moments when ideas and words flow and the story takes you where you hadn’t quite expected but you know it’s good; and the detailed, minute polishing and repolishing of editing. But it’s also lovely to make contact with readers who’ve found pleasure or meaning in what you’ve written: that feeling of connection is very special.
Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
Sophie: I love her for her courage and for her gift for friendship – and also because she reminds me of my oldest friend whom I’ve known since our first day at primary school.
What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
This is where I wish I could say something exotic like fermented yak’s milk or neat whisky, but actually the answer is tea. In large quantities.
Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
Apart from drinking too much tea… The internet. It’s so easy to develop the reflex action of flipping onto facebook or emails, and I do it a lot when I’ve got stuck, when I really should just push through the problem, or go for a long walk.
How do you research your books?
It depends on the book. I started by writing fantasy and the main back room work there wasn’t so much research as creating a world that was coherent with itself in terms of things like geography, climate, belief systems and so on – though I did spend ages reading the dictionary to find meaningful names for some of the characters (a fair number of my villains are named after parasitic worms and diseases of horses).
For Night of the Party, there was much more real-world research involved: although the book is in a sense fantasy, in that it’s set in a near future or parallel present that doesn’t quite exist, it is grounded in real life.
I visited places as much as I could. A lot of the book is based in London and mostly the London in the book is true to life (though there are some differences; there are more skyscrapers along the river in Ash and Zara’s London than there really are). Outside London, I went to Little Gidding, the Fens, Edinburgh, and went to look (from outside the fence) at Yarls Wood immigration detention centre. I also did a lot of virtual travelling on Street View!
I talked to a lot of people about various random things: maths, running, bereavement and grief, being a child protection lawyer, the immigration detention system, growing up in rural Romania, being from a Romanian family and living in London. My own children were a constant source of information about teenage life (they were going through exams, sixth form and university applications while I was writing).
Otherwise I hoovered up information from wherever I could: I did a lot of internet trawling, following the news, reading, and watching TV for anything of relevance.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Neither! I don’t outline in detail, but nor do I start writing without any sense of where the story will go. Before I begin to write, I will know who my main characters are and I’ll have a clear idea of half a dozen or so episodes in the story, including more or less how it’s going to end. I think of these as stopping points on a journey: I know that I have to get from one to the next and what to expect at each one, but I don’t know what’s going to happen between them. So there’s always space for unexpected characters and events to turn up, and sometimes writing feels like reading: a process of discovery.
If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
There are so many choices and this has been a really difficult question to answer. I will probably change my mind tomorrow, but for now it’s the Secret Garden – not only the garden itself which is gloriously described, but that amazing rambling house with all its deserted rooms and corridors, and the wild beauty of the moorland. I’m probably drawn to it because it’s a book that I read early and often, and the emotional landscape – melancholy, loneliness, friendship, joy – is so richly drawn.
If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
Again, this is so hard to answer, but I think Lyra, from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials – for her loyalty, courage and spirit of adventure. And also because I’ve just changed my mind about the last question! I’d like to live in Lyra’s world, because who doesn’t want a daemon??
About the Book
Zara is the only one who knows her friend Sophie died. But Zara’s an illegal.
She can’t tell anyone her secrets. Not even Ash, the boy she loves. The boy who needs to know the truth.
As the country prepares for an election, Zara must make an impossible choice.