I’m a dual citizen of Australia and Wales and I lecture Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. The Killing Woods is my third book, and it was definitely something of a trial. My first two novels, Stolen and Flyaway, were very thoroughly planned and came along relatively easily, at least as far as these things go. The Killing Woods, on the other hand, is the product of three years intense discovery, both within the story, and, I think, within myself as well. I learned about the events in the novel with the characters, as I was writing them. It was a much more difficult, but I hope, also a rewarding writing journey.
Firstly, I should say – stop reading now if you want to go into the book spoiler free!
In essence, the game is a sort of “capture the flag” type war game. The characters wear buckle-fastening dog collars around their necks and go in to the woods at night, with the goal of forcefully removing the opponents’ collars while keeping their own. The winner is the one with the most collars.
As for the inspiration? To be entirely honest, I don’t know. It just evolved with the book. That sounds like a copout answer, I know, but in truth the story that is now on the pages of The Killing Woods is one of many different versions of this story – this book was originally going to be set in Nigeria, and I’d originally intended for a reality TV element. Those, and many other aspects of the story, have fallen away as I’ve re-written The Killing Woods, and the game is just one of things that evolved out of the process. If I could trace some sort of inspiration to it … well ….umm … I am intrigued by games of war and love playing paintball; I also tend to be interested in any physical activity that tests our abilities against wild nature.
Too long. Far, far too long. It (almost) took me as long to write this book as it did both my previous books combined. My publishers were actually happy to have taken an earlier draft, but I could never get myself to a place where I was happy with it. I still want to tinker with it even now! That said, the audio book has an added bit, and the American edition is changed in a few small ways too. I’ve obsessed over this book for more than three years, and I’m so relieved to be able to finally feel like it’s finished.
This is very difficult for me to answer currently. Right now, I’m actually working on adapting my first novel, Stolen, and my mind is full of casting for that. But, in a general sense, for both book adaptations actually, I like the idea of bringing in an actor who has a few credits to her name and has had a little experience, but isn’t too widely known. Also, because of the age of the characters, anyone I’d have my eye on now would probably be aged out by the time a movie went into production.
But, just to answer in the spirit of the question, I imagined the looks of Team GB high jumper Robbie Grabarz when I wrote the character of Mack, and I did find photos online of young actors who I imagined when I was writing Emily and Damon, though unfortunately I’ve forgotten who they are and where I got the photos. Still, maybe someone like Liam Hemsworth or Alexander Ludwig for Damon. Still not sure about Emily.
Yes. Not to plagiarise Nike, but essentially … Just Do It. Writing is a craft like any other: you need to practice it to get good at it. Write at whatever opportunity you can – whether that be writing stories or novels, or just something like letters and emails. Just engaging with the practise of telling a story to someone – in whatever form – is the best kind of advice I can give.
Of course, no problem. I don’t blame you at all for asking, if you don’t blame me for not answering. ;) My embarrassing things are just for me to know (and laugh about!). Let’s just say one event contained a tepee late at night and a lot of guy ropes...
Does Ice Cream count? If it does, Ice Cream. If not, I’ve got some family in Spain, and when I go there they make me all these incredible, local Spanish dishes. So rustic and powerful and homey. I make them at home sometimes, and it reminds me of summer in the Basque country.
I am just beginning to feel out a new novel for teenagers though I already have a picture book text that is with my agent currently, waiting to be sold. I’m not sure I am ready to tell anyone very much about my new teen novel yet … only that it contains a horse, a boy with eyes like the sea, a kickass dog, and some lizards.
Hopefully you enjoyed my interview with Lucy! You can see my review of The Killing Woods here. Don't forget to check out the next stops on the blog tour!
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*Head shot credit to Rolf Mariot.