Today I am a part of the UKYA Extravaganza tour and I have for you a great interview with the lovely and talented, Sophia Bennett!
1. Do you have a favourite book that you’ve written?
It always changes! Right now it’s the one I’ve just finished writing, called Love Song, about a girl who gets caught up – against her will – with a rock band. The tagline is ‘A girl, a band, a love story. Things will get broken.’ I think that just about covers it. I’m fond of all my books in different ways though, and proud of them too. They address things like the dark side of the modelling industry, child slavery, refugees and cyberbullying, as well as my fun passions, like fashion, art and music. I love it when readers learn things from them, and get engaged, as well as just having a good read.
2. I love how character-driven and how powerful your characters are. Do you always start with a character or do you get plot sorted first?
Thank you, Faye! Usually I get the plot sorted first, because that’s what comes to me, but I’m increasingly convinced that’s the wrong way round. It takes me months if not years to find the characters and make them as strong and powerful as they are. But the best times are when a character takes over and does something that she wasn’t supposed to do in the plot. Such as when Crow, in Beads, storms out of a design meeting because her principles are at stake, or Jenny simply refuses to pose for the cover of Vogue, even though I really need her to! That’s when they really come alive and writing their story is just a question of keeping up with them.
3. What are you currently working on?
I’ve just finished Love Story, the band one, and we’re doing some filming for the launch next spring, which I’m excited about. Now I’m thinking about two detective series that I’d love to do. One is Middle Grade and the other is YA/Adult crossover. Both seem fun and have some great characters (thank goodness!), so it’s a question of which one I get inspired to write first. I’m also going to be teaching a writing children’s fiction course at City University, London, so there’s a lot going on.
4. When it comes to writing, how much research do you do?
A lot, but not too much. I adore research and I found, when I started out, that I’d become a bit of an expert on something and my novel would start to sound like a textbook. I couldn’t bear to leave any details out. So now I try and get the characters and the plots right first, and then I do the research I need to flesh them out. I love interviewing people and finding out extraordinary details – such as that rich people from Middle Eastern cultures tend to line their superyacht bedrooms in leather, rather than wood, because there aren’t a lot of trees in the desert. Some scenes are borne out of interviews I’ve done, such as the endless go-sees Ted Trout goes to in The Look. But I use the internet a lot too, of course. Couldn’t live without it. YouTube is brilliant.
5. Where and when do you get the bulk of your writing completed?
I write more than I care to admit in bed! Especially when it’s freezing outside. But I like local cafes, because of the background noise, and libraries, because I deliberately don’t learn their wifi code, so I can’t be distracted by the internet. However, now that I’ve finally cleaned my shed up and installed a scented candle, I write there most of the time, and love it. You can see pictures of it on my website. It’s quite new, and much-admired. I think it should meet Candy Gourlay’s shed, because they’re quite similar, and I think they’d get on.
ebook or hardcopy?
Paper! I love my Kindle, but I can’t flick back to an earlier bit of the novel as quickly as I can in a book, or lend a book I love, or admire the cover as easily.
YA or Adult?
Depends. For example, I’ve just finished Persuasion for the umpteenth time. I’d say it was both.
Vampires or Werewolves?
Werewolves. Big Maggie Steifvater fan.
Chocolate or Vanilla?
Tricky. Vanilla. I’ve recently started making my own smoothies and it’s a fab addition.
Harry Potter or Twilight?
Harry, no question. Next!
Four or Peeta?
Peeta. Lovely boy. And knows how to bake a decent cake.
Series or Single?
Series all the way – as a writer. Though as a reader, I tend to prefer single books these days. Having said that, my 9 year-old is just finishing the How To Train Your Dragon series and it’s magnificent. In book 8, it goes up to a whole new level. If you started it and left off, go back and finish it. It’s epic, amazing, and I would say essential.
ou can catch the rest of the UKYA Extravaganza Tour! Find out where the next stop is on this handy graphic:
And don’t forget… this is the UKYA Extravaganza event!