Friday, July 5, 2013

Feature Friday: C.J. Flood

C J Flood is the author of Infinite Sky, which releases in paperback today in the UK, and next summer in the U.S.. She lives in Bristol, England, where she is working on her second novel for Simon and Schuster.

Interview:

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

C.J.:
Take a notebook and pen everywhere. Read a lot and write a lot. Watch films and television. Eavesdrop on conversations. Try new things. Live a full life. Don't use reading and writing as an excuse not to get involved with life as much.

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

C.J.:
My favourite books change all the time, but today I'm going to say it's Northern Lights from Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy. I started re-reading it yesterday, and was amazed by the writing and the imaginative power at work in it. It's an unforgettable book, and one that if I had the time, I would return to again and again.

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

C.J.:
I mostly wanted to write about an idyllic part of my childhood, growing up on a farm. I love writing about family so I knew from the start that this would be at the heart of the story. The Travellers turned up quite late, months after I started writing. They were a small thread at first, but I quickly realised that they would bring what the story had so far been lacking: conflict.

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

C.J.:
Yes, lots! I couldn't think how to end the story for a long time. Then, once I knew someone was going to have to die, I couldn't decide who. I fixed it by writing a few different endings, and considering them. Probably quite a long-winded approach to solving the problem.

Something else that always slows me down when writing is thinking about what the story is saying. Not a moral as such, but what the book's message is. I think really carefully about how I portray types. I try not to pander to already prominent, damaging stereotypes if I can help it. Not sure I always succeed with this...

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

C.J.:
All of the characters are very close to my heart. I understand their intentions as well as their actions, and so I love them dearly - they are such well-meaning, messed up people! Hopefully a lot like those you know in real life. Trick, especially, is beloved to me. He has had a hard life, but he has stayed gentle in lots of ways. I love him for trying to look after Iris.

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

C.J.:
I started writing with a view to being published when I was 21, and in the years that followed I had lots of short stories and poems published in literary journals and magazines. When I was 28, I applied for a place on a Creative Writing Masters at the University of East Anglia. It was really lucky that I got a place there, as I didn't apply anywhere else, and I was desperate to go. After this my journey sped up significantly. I signed with an agent who I met on the course a few months after graduating, and got a book deal a year after that.

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

C.J.:
My second novel is another stand alone story, along the same lines as Infinite Sky. It is about a thirteen year old girl called Kit, and her quest to find her missing soldier brother, and bring him home. It is about friendship, bravery and appearances. Simon and Schuster will publish it in 2014.

A.L.:
Did you put a lot of work into studying the gypsy culture for this book?  If so, what was your favorite source of information?

C.J.:
I did a lot of research, yes. One of my favourite sources of information was a memoir called Gypsy Boy by Mikey Walsh. It is about a Romany boy, rather than an Irish Traveller, and the story is about his struggle to face his sexuality and come out in a very traditional family. It was quite different to what I was writing, but the story is so well-written and sad and heartwarming that I can't forget it. I strongly recommend it.

A.L.:
You like fire, the sea, and trees...And your book is titles Infinite Sky...I'm gonna be mean and make you choose:  if you were an elemental faerie, what kind of element would you be and what would your secret power be?

C.J.:
Easy! I would choose water, and my super power would be the ability to turn into water. I would use it to get into off-limits place and eavesdrop. How my writing will improve now I have this gift!

A.L.:
If you were a gypsy, what would your gypsy name be?  Likewise, if you were a pro-boxer, what would it be?

C.J.:
Hmm, I'm not sure what the naming habits are in boxing, don't they just have normal names? So C J Flood, I think. If I was an Irish Traveller, I would be called Nan Delaney, like Trick's mum.

The Giveaway:
C.J. is giving away a hardcover copy of INFINITE SKY.  The contest is open to national entrants only.

Infinite Sky:  Iris Dancy’s free-spirited mum has left for Tunisia, her dad’s rarely sober and her brother’s determined to fight anyone with a pair of fists.

When a family of travellers move into the overgrown paddock overnight, her dad looks set to finally lose it. Gypsies are parasites he says, but Iris is intrigued. As her dad plans to evict the travelling family, Iris makes friends with their teenage son. Trick Deran is a bare knuckle boxer who says he’s done with fighting, but is he telling the truth?

When tools go missing from the shed, the travellers are the first suspects. Iris’s brother, Sam, warns her to stay away from Trick; he’s dangerous, but Iris can no longer blindly follow her brother’s advice. He’s got secrets of his own, and she’s not sure he can be trusted himself.

Infinite Sky is a family story about betrayal and loyalty, and love.


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How to Enter:
Enter the giveaway using Rafflecopter. Hit the arrow buttons, follow the prompts, and hit the enter buttons when you're done. (You may have to log in using Facebook to do this). There will be one winner (selected by Rafflecopter). I will contact the winner via email. This contest is open to national entrants.

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