I’m delighted to be hosting Sue Bentley in my hot seat today as part of her tour for YA/Fantasy We Other.
Sue Bentley is chatting to us about her ideas/inspiration, how her characters are formed, her favourite activity for inspiration and much more. There’s also a tourwide giveaway of a signed copy of We Other and a personal message from Sue (open Internationally). Don’t miss it!
Publisher: Endeavour Venture (6 Jun. 2018)
Family secrets, changelings, and fairies you never want to meet on a dark night.
Jess Morgan’s life has always been chaotic.
When a startling new reality cannot be denied, it’s clear that everything she believed about herself is a lie. She is linked to a world where humans – ‘hot-bloods’ – are disposable entertainment. Life on a run-down estate – her single mum’s alcoholism and violent boyfriend – become the least of Jess’s worries.
Welcome to Jera’s Jamboree.
Please summarise We Other in 20 words or less.
We Other is a fantasy novel for YA/Adults. It’s part love-story, part thriller, with pitch-dark fairies.
What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?
Sometimes a book I read will give me an idea for a plot twist. Or it could be a film or TV series that switches on ‘the ideas factory’ in my head. My love of folklore and fairy tales was a big factor in planning We Other. I had the main character of Jess Morgan in my mind for some time. I knew she’d have a difficult childhood, which would make her into both a loner and a survivor. She wouldn’t be an easy person to get close too, but if she let you in, you’d find her loyal and protective to a fault. I love Jess – which is good as I’ll be sticking with her for at least another book, and maybe another one after that.
How do your characters come into existence Sue? Do they have a bio?
Sometimes they appear fully formed, like Jess. Other times, I build each one gradually. I see a character in the context of the book’s background and what place they’ll occupy in it. So I think of gender, culture, race, how they look, what job they do, their interests and where they fit – or don’t fit – in the world I’m creating. (As there’s a big fairy element in this book – this can be varied!) I write a bio for each one. I might not use all the info, but it helps me to know it and become familiar with what makes them tick. It will determine how each character reacts in a given situation and how they will interact with other characters on their journey through the book.
Do you have a theme for your book covers? Who designs them?
With my sparkly, magical animals’ series for age 5-9 years, for Puffin Books, the publishers design department came up with all the covers. They needed to be cute and collectable. Which has worked really well for these books.
We Other, is obviously for a different market. Although for older teens, it appeals to many adults. It was first published by a small traditional publisher, who gave me the opportunity to add my input to the cover design, which is very unusual. An image was taken from my own artwork – a multi-media painting entitled ‘Imago’. (I’m a sometime artist, when between books) The image was digitally enhanced and used for the book’s front cover – a negative of the same image is on the reverse. I think it looks striking and different to most other fantasy covers. There may be a different cover for the e-book and subsequent paperback editions. It’ll be exciting to see someone else’s vision for the cover.
Do you have a favourite book?
There are so many of them. I enjoyed Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy. I like anything by Holly Black, Hannah Kent, Frances Hardinge, Laini Taylor and Michel Faber, to name a few. I also have a thing for books with Victorian settings. I loved ‘Jamrach’s Menagerie’ by Carol Birch – it’s a book I wish I’d written, which I think is a great compliment to any fellow author. It’s complex, multi-layered and very dark in places. Just the kind of thing I love to write and read.
And what are you reading now Sue?
‘The Hazel Wood’ by Melissa Albert. I’m really enjoying this book. The main character has a unique voice. It’s really well observed, with great descriptions and is beautifully written. There are lots of plot twists and turns to keep me guessing and sit up reading late into the night. I fell asleep in the middle of a page last night, then had to backtrack the moment I woke up! I want to read it slowly, so I don’t miss a single thing. (I finished reading this last week! Agree 100% Sue).
Do you have a favourite place you go to for inspiration or a favourite activity?
Walking in nature is perfect for me. I get to breathe in the beauty of trees and green things, or the sand of a beach, and the wide sweep of the sea beneath an open sky. It’s exercise without effort and is like a moving meditation. I’ll return from a walk with a head full of ideas and maybe the answer to a problem with plot or character. I also love sitting in cafés, reading or making notes. I prefer to write in a notebook on these occasions, as I spend so much time in front of a computer screen.
Finally, are there any tips you could share with new writers?
The first thing sounds simple, but is fundamental. Writers must write – regularly. Expect to write far more than will ever be published. Expect to re-write, many times, and cut away the unnecessary padding to make your book, or short story, or feature, the very best you can make it. Do not be too self-satisfied or precious about your writing. At some point you’ll want your work read by a beta reader. If you’re lucky and an agent or publishers likes your work, you’ll get to work with an editor. Constructive advice is invaluable. It’s up to you how much criticism you accept. Is it useful? Do you agree with what’s suggested? Do you trust the judgment of the person reading your work? You’ll face rejection before you find a happy home for your work. But if you keep on writing and reading good fiction, you’ll get there in the end. A final word. I’ve made every mistake in the book, but I’m living proof that it’s possible to earn your living from writing. Good Luck!
Thank you for being my guest today.
Thanks so much for hosting me on the We Other blog tour. Great questions.
Sue Bentley discovered a love of books at an early age. She worked for Northamptonshire Libraries for many years, while teaching herself the craft of writing. She is the author of the worldwide bestselling Magic Kitten, Magic Puppy, Magic Ponies, Magic Bunny series for age 5-9 years. She also writes for children and adults under various pen names. A lover of English Folklore, her books often contain elements of the otherworld and the darkness within the everyday. Her books have been translated into around 20 languages. We Other is her first book for Young Adults.
Connect with Sue Bentley
Up for grabs in this International tourwide giveaway is a signed copy of We Other with a personal message from Sue Bentley.
The organisers Terms and Conditions:
Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.