Thursday, June 3, 2010

Author Chat: Susie Day

We have with us today the author of My Invisible BoyfriendSusie Day! 

I’m Susie Day and I’m a writer.  I’m originally from Wales and currently live in Oxford, England.  My first book, Whump! in which Bill falls 632 miles down a manhole, won the BBC Talent Children’s Fiction Prize and was published in 2004.  I currently write teen and YA fiction, aimed mainly at girls.

-Taken from Susie's website

What first got you started as a young adult writer?

I blame the internet! My first book was for younger readers, but after that was done I was spending a lot of time researching online for a PhD, blogging, using social networks – and the idea of writing something in that world became irresistible.  That book – Serafina67 (or Big Woo in the rest of the world) – was so much fun to write, and since I’m quite useless at being a proper adult, writing about teens just seems natural.  My second job is working in an international boarding school, so I live with 15 teenage boys. They should get credit for providing endless inspiration, too.  In return, my home smells like takeaway pizza and feet. You’ve got to suffer for your art.

What was your inspiration for My Invisible Boyfriend

A pack of tissues. No, really: bear with me.  They had ‘she liked imaginary men best of all’ printed on them, and the idea tickled me – especially having just written a book about online personas.  It got me thinking about all the ways you could use the internet to fake a whole person: how easy it would be to pretend to be someone else, and send yourself little love messages so you wouldn’t feel so left out...

Do you have any interesting writing quirks or habits?

I’d love to tell you that I absolutely must sit in a special hand-carved chair shaped like an ostrich, writing only on yellow paper, using the teardrops of weeping teenagers for ink – because we all (even writers) like to imagine that there’s some magic secret to it. But I just sit in my kitchen with a laptop and a cup of tea. Occasionally I venture as far as my local coffee shop. That’s as gripping as it gets. I love it, though!  But the quirky bits happen inside my head, which is probably for the best.

Which character from My Invisible Boyfriend do you resonate most with and why?

Heidi’s geekery is very like me: I do hold endless conversations with imaginary people - though usually that’s because I’m testing out dialogue, not asking a fictional TV detective for help with my love life - and I think most of us can relate to that desperate desire she has to fit in.  But her gothic friend Fili has touches of what I was like as a teenager: ultra-moody, wore lots of black, didn’t say much in the hope that people would assume I was deeply profound on the inside (when actually I was worrying about exactly the same things as everyone else).

How did the title and cover of My Invisible Boyfriend come to be? 

I’ll just point you to the lovely blog post my editor Rachel made on this one, because it wasn’t anything to do with me! I’m thrilled that people love it so much, though. -

One of the major themes in your novel is the need to belong. What advice would you give to girls in Heidi’s place?

Ahh, that’s so tricky! I think sometimes you need to be given the space to mess up, so you really learn from those mistakes. But I suppose my advice to Heidi would be that real friends like you best when you’re just yourself – even if that self wears a weird coat and has nerdy hair and is *gasp* single. 

If you made up your own fake boyfriend, what would he be like?

He’d be a she, for starters. But I dated guys when I was at school, so back then... hmm, a little bit Han Solo, a little bit Robin Hood, with his own TARDIS. I suspect his fakeyness might have been ever so slightly obvious.

Recipes are found throughout My Invisible Boyfriend. In your opinion, what are the vital ingredients for a great story?

Voice, Character, Plot, Theme: stick ‘em in a bowl and whizz till you’ve got a book. Oh, if only it was that easy.  I think my own approach to the kitchen is a pretty good metaphor for my writing: I’ve got lots of recipe books, but I always end up ignoring them and making it up as I go along, because I’ve been cooking for long enough to know the basics. Sometimes it tastes delicious. Sometimes the pastry is too crumbly, the chicken’s still pink, the wilted spinach is still in the supermarket because I forget to buy it, and my editor gets food poisoning. Um. I think I’ve broken this metaphor.  OK, it’s like this: I think there are certain ingredients you need for a really great story – but if you feel like throwing in a load of Herbes de Provence as well, then go for it.

What is one of your favorite books or authors?

Impossible to choose – so I’ll tell you what I’m reading (and loving) right now. I’ve just started R.J. Anderson’s Knife (it’s called Faery Rebels: Spell Hunterin the US), which is about a tiny but fierce faery girl struggling to survive. I’m not usually a very ‘faery’ kind of girl but the writing is just intoxicating. I’m also halfway through Sophia Bennett’s Threads, a British YA about teens helping a refugee girl with an amazing talent. It’s tackling a challenging, sensitive subject with intelligence and tons of charm and wit: really impressive. And they’re both the beginnings of series, so I have lots more to look forward to!

What’s up next for you book-wise? Any new books I might want to look into? 

I’ve written another YA title, due out in the UK next year: it’s set in a rundown British seaside resort, and is about a girl who wishes she could live a year of her life all over again. Right now I’m working on a possible series for Middle Grade readers. I can’t tell you any more than that yet, sorry!  But if you visit my blog, I’ll announce any exciting news there.

Anything else you'd like too add?

Thanks so much for having me as a guest, and asking such brilliant questions!  Keep up the great blogging, and to all your readers: have an invisible hug and an imaginary cuppa from me. xx

Thank you so much for everything Susie! I had a lot of fun with this interview. 

Be sure to check out her hilarious novel, My Invisible Boyfriend
To read my review of My Invisible Boyfriend and to watch the trailer, click HERE. 


Kelly said...

Great interview, you asked some fantastic questions, and I loved reading her replies! :)

Katie said...

That's hysterical that she was inspired by a tissue box! I love it!

Blueicegal ♥ said...

sounds like such a good read kudos on the interview loved both answers and questions! :)

Darlyn said...

A pack of tissues as inspiration?Wow.that's so cool. I wish I'll get tones of ideas while crying too ;p

Aina Yasmin said...

Cool interview!
Can't wait for your next one!

Unknown said...

"A pack of tissues." That was really funny. She certainly got more out of it that most of us.

Vicky said...

I was really excited for this book before, but I am more now after this interview!!

Misha said...

She seems so funny and nice! Thanks for the interview. I want to read the book.

Dani said...

Dioooooooos! amo este librooo! quiero leerlo ahoraaaaaaa!...

Gooood i love this Boook! i want to read it right now!

Yeah, i´m from Argentina, and i want to have this book on my hands! and read it! Great interview!! awesome!

Enbrethiliel said...


She had me at "endless conversations with imaginary people"!

And now I'm thinking, "So I'm not alone, after all!!!"

If Heidi is anything like her creator, then this book will be a fun read. =)

Shy said...

I love this interview and I think some of the questions asked were very useful =) The author seems like one of those person who is fun to talk to and very comfortable to be with. Excellent!

Ashley said...

I love that not all the questions in this interview were the typical, same old same old. We actually got some new/interesting info! Loved it!
And, I love that a pack of tissues was the inspiration! Brilliant!

S a n d r a said...

I love to know the favorite books of the author that i read!
Great interview!