Friday, June 14, 2013

Feature Friday: Imogen Howson

When I was little, I loved reading so much that I not only read in bed, at the table and in the bath, but in the shower and – not so successfully – on my bicycle.
I enjoyed books in a slightly unorthodox way, too – many of my childhood books have ragged edges where I tore paper from the margins in order to eat it.
I live with my partner, our two teenage daughters, and three cats, near Sherwood Forest in England. I still read in most places, but I no longer eat paper.

Interview:
A.L.:
What piece of advice would you give to a budding author?

Imogen:
Read a LOT. Read the sort of books you think you’d like to write, and read other types of books too—everything you read can teach you something about how to be a better writer.

A.L.:
What's your favorite book and why?

Imogen:
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.  It’s inventive, funny, and continually surprising—and the heroine is one of the best YA heroines ever written.

A.L.:
Where did you get the idea for Linked?

Imogen:
I read an article in a magazine belonging to my teenage daughters, about a pair of twins who had some kind of telepathic link, and it was so fascinating I knew I had to write about it.

A.L.:
Did you hit any snags while writing Linked?  What were they and how did you fix them?

Imogen:
Looking back, the main snag was that I didn’t get the development of the romantic sub-plot right.  When my now-agent saw an early version of Linked, she pinpointed exactly what needed to happen to make it better, and she was SO right.

A.L.:
Which one of the characters in Linked is your favorite and why?

Imogen:
I kind of love Cadan, who’s the irritating and arrogant best friend of the heroine, Elissa’s, older brother.  He came to life for me after my agent made a ton of suggestions to improve him.

A.L.:
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as an author?

Imogen:
I started off, really, telling my younger sister stories when we got bored on trips out.  I used to tell her about the fairies that lived in the woods (they ate roast acorn for their Sunday lunches, as I remember), and the “people who live inside your body”.  When I got older I knew I wanted to write books and get published, but it didn’t take off for me until I realized I wanted to write a) romance and b) anything that wasn’t set in the real world.  I’ve tried to write realistic-type books, and I just can’t do it!

A.L.:
What are you working on now?  Sequel?  Something new?

Imogen:
I’ve just finished working on the sequel to Linked, which is called Unravel and which will be out in 2014.  I’m now working on something totally new.  It has cheerleaders in an anti-gravity globe, and subterranean mutants, and a life-or-death contest, and whenever I mention it to my daughters they look at me as if I’ve gone crazy.  I’m having a lot of fun writing it, though!

A.L.:
How did you go about writing a book involving twins with a special connection?  Did you do a lot of research involving twin connections?

Imogen:
The nice thing about writing science fiction and fantasy is that you can make it all up, so I did very little research!  When I came to write about the relationship between the twins, though, I realized I drew a lot from my own relationship with my sister, and probably some from watching the relationship between my daughters.

A.L.:
If you still ate books, what do you think your favorite book would taste like?  What about your own books?

Imogen:
Howl’s Moving Castle would taste of bacon and eggs, with a strong hint of woodsmoke, courtesy of Calcifer the fire demon.  It would be delicious.  Linked would taste entirely of strong coffee—and not very nice coffee, I’m afraid.  The characters spend a lot of time on the run, mostly on a spaceship, and they’re tired and sleep-deprived and dependent on the instant coffee in the ship’s drinks machine.

A.L.:
You've written quite a few books so far.  I know it's hard to pick between all your "children," but Which one was your favorite to write and why?

Imogen:
I wrote a YA fantasy novella, Fire and Shadow, a few years ago, although it’s no longer in print.  It’s not my favorite now, because I think other books are better, but I loved writing it.  As you can tell from the title, it has a theme of light and darkness, fire and shadow, and I had a great time writing the descriptions.  It also has a bit of a superhero theme—a reviewer mentioned it was similar to X-Men—and thinking of superhero powers is always fun.

The Giveaway:
Imogen is giving away a copy of LINKED.

Linked: Elissa used to have it all: looks, popularity, and a bright future. But for the last three years, she’s been struggling with terrifying visions, phantom pains, and mysterious bruises that appear out of nowhere.

Finally, she’s promised a cure: minor surgery to burn out the overactive area of her brain. But on the eve of the procedure, she discovers the shocking truth behind her hallucinations: she’s been seeing the world through another girl’s eyes.

Elissa follows her visions, and finds a battered, broken girl on the run. A girl—Lin—who looks exactly like Elissa, down to the matching bruises. The twin sister she never knew existed.

Now, Elissa and Lin are on the run from a government who will stop at nothing to reclaim Lin and protect the dangerous secrets she could expose—secrets that would shake the very foundation of their world.

Riveting, thought-provoking and utterly compelling, Linked will make you question what it really means to be human.


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