Thursday, 5 February 2015

UKYA Extravaganza: Author Spotlight with Bryony Pearce

Blog Tour Button Picture

Hello! Welcome to my stop in the #UKYAExtravaganza blog tour! 

So fantastic author's Emma Pass and Kerry Drewery have combined their talents to curate and bring us a rather exciting event that is to take place on the 28th February 2015 in Birmingham. The event will consist of 35 Authors, you heard me folks, 35 Fabulous Authors will be gathering in Waterstones Birmingham where they will be talking all things bookish. Doesn't that sound incredible?!
The UKYA Extravaganza event is a chance for readers, bloggers and even non-participating authors to round up to talk and share their love for books. Tickets for the event sold out in the first couple hours since going on sale, it was amazing! But until then, there is a blog tour with guest posts from the 35 participating authors hosted by 35 fab bloggers! I was lucky enough to have been invited to take part!
The full list of authors taking part are below.

ukya extravaganza

Find out more about the event via Twitter:

Today, I have the lovely Bryony Pearce on the blog for an interview! So let's kick things off shall we?

Hi Bryony, and welcome to The Dark Dictator! It's great to have you here. Shall we begin with the dreaded cliché opening question? Tell us about yourself!

Hi there. There’s a thing going round Facebook at the moment where you have to write seven things people might not know about yourself, it seems like a fun way to tell you about me, so if you don’t mind, I’ll steal that format:

  1. I have two children - a boy, Riley (6) and a girl, Maisie (9).
  2. I was born with acetabular dysplasia, which meant I had severe arthritis by the time I was 30. I had a total hip replacement in 2007.
  3. I’m a karate blue belt (working towards purple).
  4. I went to a state comprehensive and have an English literature degree from Cambridge university.
  5. I don’t much like the dark – when I’m alone in the evening I can’t go up to bed unless the lights are turned on. Sometimes I carry a torch.
  6. I lived in Gibraltar when I was a little girl and was there to greet Charles and Diana when they got off the plane there for their honeymoon
  7. I once threw up over the feet of the Admiral of the Royal Air Force, after necking my first ever can of Coca Cola in 40 degree heat.

There are many ways in which a writer gains inspiration. What inspired you to write? Have you always known you wanted to be a writer?

I can’t tell you that something specific ‘inspired me to write’ because I’ve always wanted to be a writer and I’ve always written.

The first ever story I remember writing was about a fifty pence piece who wanted to become a pirate (best selling stuff obviously), I think I was six.

Funnily my next novel, Phoenix Rising, which is coming out at the beginning of June, is about pirates - I love the fact that I’ve come full circle and am quite tempted to slip a 50 pence piece in there somewhere.
In terms of story inspiration, I, like anyone, get my ideas from all around me - from news, to conversations, to science, to history, art, the landscape, to things that happen to me personally. I imagine my brain as a bit of a melting pot – ideas for stories simmer away in the background and suddenly I spot the right thing, or the right idea or piece of research falls into place and a full story is born.

Often inspiration for me is about finding something of interest, something that sparks off that moment of fascination, then bolstering the idea with hardcore research!
The inspiration for my first novel, Angel’s Fury, for example, came from events in my own life.
Angel’s Fury was very much inspired by a visit to Gibraltar where I had a strange experience.  Many of my dreams have the same scenery, a town square, white houses and a clock in the middle.  I have no conscious memory of ever having seen such a place. 

I had lived in Gibraltar as a child (we left when I was seven) and I thought it would be nice to revisit when I was grown.  While climbing the Rock I mentioned to the guide that I’d once lived on the RAF base and he pointed behind me and said something like ‘oh, you’ll have lived there then.’  I turned around and there it was – the scenery from my dreams.  It was like being smacked between the eyes!  I had no memory of that white square but I had retained that memory so clearly in my subconscious that it was being recycled nightly. 
That experience stayed with me and I knew I wanted to make a story out of it.  The chapters which describe Cassie’s visit to Germany where she recognises scenes from her dreams, are inspired by that moment. 

When I went on holiday to Bali the in-flight magazine had an article on the local belief in reincarnation.  During the holiday I made a point of visiting a number of temples and religious places including Tanah Lot and Pura Tirta and spoke to locals about their beliefs.  I was fascinated and suddenly I had a reason for Cassie’s experience – she had been reincarnated.

As a UKYA author, what is one thing you love about UKYA?

There are so many things - can I mention two? First of all, for me, there is the sense of community. UKYA writers and bloggers are supportive, fun and there is a real sense that we’re all ‘in it’ together. When the publisher of The Weight of Souls, Strange Chemistry, folded last year, my inbox was inundated with messages of support from other UK YA authors and bloggers.  I always imagined that being a writer would be quite a lonely existence, but there are so many networks and groups of other UKYA writers out there, from The Edge to Author Allsorts we work together to bring our books to our readers, we celebrate one another’s successes, commiserate when things go wrong – and yes, we do talk about our publishers!

The other amazing thing about UKYA is the range of wonderful books out there. I picture UKYA a bit like the indie movie scene – publishers over here have been brave enough to take risks and publish books that are different, exciting and inspirational.

In UKYA you can find stories about anything you can dream of, from contemporary thrillers, to historical to supernatural, to sci fi to dystopia, to romance and everything in between and often blending more than one.
Writers of YA can take risks, genre-bending, because our editors don’t have to worry about where the book will sit on the shelves: is it a romance or a sci fi? Well, it’s both and that’s okay because it’ll sit happily on the YA shelf right next to the historical supernatural and the dystopian murder mystery.

Out of all the characters you have created, which one of them can you most relate to and why?

That’s tough. All of my main characters come from deep inside me and reflect different parts of my personality.
Cassie, my first leading lady, suffers from nightmares - so do I.
Taylor, from The Weight of Souls, is bullied at school - so was I.
Web, from Windrunner (out in November) fights discrimination - so have I.
Toby, from Phoenix Rising (out in June) is working out how to move from being a child to being an adult and struggling with how people perceive him - This is something I’m sure we can all identify with.

Now we know how important it is to promote UKYA but what would be the first UKYA book you would recommend to someone who has just been introduced to UKYA?

Apart from mine, you mean?

I can wholeheartedly recommend Tom Pollock’s City’s Son, not only because it is a wonderful supernatural story with stunning lyrical language and relatable characters, but because it is set in London - an alternative version of London, but still recognisable and in many ways distilled so that is almost a more accurate reflection of London than London itself. Those unfamiliar with UKYA and who read City’s Son will not only get a sense of the strange and wonderful books that are written with such skill  (and the British black humour) over here, but will also get a clear view of our country and what it feels like to live in the UK.

There are so many wonderful UKYA books out there! But tell us about your Top 3. (I'll allow you to count a series as one!)


- It would be remiss of me not to mention the Harry Potter series, without which I don’t believe we would have such a thriving UKYA industry

- Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking Trilogy, is wonderful, different and a masterclass in conveying a message about war that will generate thought and discussion among readers

- Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines series introduces characters and situations that remain with the reader long after the book has been closed down

All of my favourite books are similar in that the world building is intricate and detailed, the characters seem real, remaining with the reader long after the books have closed, the female characters are strong and relevant (who can forget Hermione, Hester or Viola?) And they deal with themes and issues that are important to me.

I'm always intrigued to what people would answer to this. What animal would you describe yourself as and why? (Personally, I see myself as an Eagle!)

I’d like to be a cat – minimum responsibility, maximum pampering, totally gorgeous. Sadly that’s not what I am at all. Cats are the supermodels of the animal world. I’m more of the supermodel’s PA.
I think I’m more like a squirrel – burying my nuts for winter, constantly worrying about the future, constantly on the move and raising my babies as best I can in a changing ecosystem!

What was your favourite book as a child?

YIKES – another really, really hard question, which also raises the question what age specifically do you mean? Because my favourite book was different depending on how old I was.
When I was very little I loved Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland. I had an Enid Blyton phase (my daughter is currently just finishing her Blyton phase too). I loved Roald Dahl The Twits, and I adored Ursula Le Guin Tales of Earthsea. I had a Piers Anthony phase and then and then as I moved into the teenage years I fell hard for David Gemmell and Anne Macaffrey’s PERN and Brain and Brawn Ship series.
Basically I loved fantasy, humour and strong female characters. Still do.

We know the process of becoming a published writer is a tough journey. What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

The best way to become a writer is to write, so don’t stop trying. You can’t fail if you never give up!
Join the SCBWI if you want to write children’s or YA, they are an incredibly supportive network with loads of amazing, useful events and competitions, well respected in the indsutry.

Tell us about one author you'd love to meet that you haven't met. (They don't have to be alive!)

Anne Macaffrey. She inspired me to write the way that I do and I loved her work so much as a young teen. She was an inspirational woman as well as an inspirational writer: she was the first woman to win a Hugo and the first to win a Nebula Award and she was one of the earliest YA trailblazers (her PERN story’s of Menolly, inclding Dragonsong, Dragonsinger and Dragondrums were YA).

Do you have any pet peeves? If so, what are they?

There’s the big stuff, like sexism and racism, which make me crazy. I recently wrote a blog post about misogynistic humour, which gets my back right up.
But ‘peeves’ sounds like I should be talking about the smaller things - so I hate it when people eat with their mouth open, park their cars inconsiderately and are not punctual. Punctuality is a bug bear of mine, probably because in the days before mobile phones I lived on an RAF base and, when meeting friends, I had to do so outside the base – a mile away from my house - because they couldn’t come through the gate to get to me. The hours and hours I spent sat outside the NAAFI waiting for friends who were late!
Once I spend an hour and half shivering in the snow waiting for a friend who finally rocked up and never even apologised. I hate lateness.

Where is your favourite place to read?

On a sun lounger next to a swimming pool!

Can you give us a sneak peek on what you're currently working on?

Absolutely. My next book, Phoenix Rising is due out at the beginning of June. Here is an (unedited) extract – this the moment Toby first meets Ayla:

Toby held Nix ahead of him and edged forwards. Standing water sloshed up his ankles as he walked. He still hadn’t met a crew member, but the longer he went without being seen, the sweatier his palms became and the harder his heart thumped in his chest. Slowly his shuffling walk became a hunched scuttle.
“You, there. Stop. All hands below deck.”
It was with a kind of awful relief that Toby realised he had been spotted. Even as his heart sunk, he straightened, tightened his hand around Nix and turned.
A single member of the Banshee’s crew stood silhouetted above him.
 “You’re not crew. Who are you?” The voice was high, undoubtedly female.  Toby’s hand tightened on Nix and he sidestepped as the figure cart-wheeled from the deck to land in front of Toby.
As she flew, a long coat like Nell’s, flapped behind her. Her booted feet landed with a bone-jarring thud and splashed inches from Toby’s bare toes. Next to her the scrawny cat landed on silent paws. Toby watched, incredulous, as it wound itself around his legs, claws ticking through the puddles on the walkway.
Then it went to sit beside its mistress, growling low in its throat, as if daring Toby to move.
As the figure straightened, Toby stared. He was facing a girl who had to be about the same age as Toby himself. His hand loosened on Nix, matching the slackness of his jaw.
All the crewmen of the Banshee that Toby had seen so far were shaven and tattooed; men or women, it didn’t seem to matter. This girl wore her long hair loose. Tiny braids decorated with beads and feathers kept it from falling into her eyes. Beneath the decoration the silky strands were the colour of oil; a shiny black, which hinted of prisms of colour beneath, darker even than Dee’s.
Drawn despite his better judgement, Toby was unable to retreat. Instead he balanced against the rise and fall of the ship and stared. The girl’s eyes were shockingly green; algae on seawater. Her face was as tanned as Toby’s own, but her skin was not as salt-burned or work-rough. She hadn’t the perfect face that Toby had pictured for the girl of his dreams. Her cheeks were hollow, speaking of hunger, her nose had clearly been broken at least once and she had a thin scar bisecting her lower lip.
As he exhaled, his breath shivered in the air between them and the girl put her hands on her hips to reveal black leather trousers and a tight waxed jerkin beneath her coat.
“Polly want a cracker,” Polly muttered, her warning obvious.
 The cat hissed and Polly squawked angrily.
“I told them that boy was too young to be Ford’s son. You’re Toby, aren’t you?” The girl frowned. “Then who do we have in the cage?”
Toby growled, reminded of his mission. “That’s Hiko. I’ve come to take him home.”
Finally he stepped backwards and the girl’s full lips split into a grin. “I don’t think so, boy.” Before Toby could react, she had grabbed his shoulders, slammed her forehead between his eyes, released him and leaped back.

And finally, what was the most valuable thing you have learnt during your journey in becoming a published author?

I’ve learned that it’s very easy, in the rush to make the next milestone, deadline or book deal, to lose sight of what’s important – that I love to write. That I would be writing whether or not I had that deal and that actually being published the first time was the fulfilment of a dream. I must keep hold of that and I must not lose sight of the joy inherent in what I do.

Thanks so much for a great interview Bryony! And we were lucky enough to have had a sneak peek of her next book Phoenix Rising.

If you would like to know more about Bryony and her present and upcoming releases, you can Follow her on Twitter at @BryonyPearce. You can also find her on Facebook at BryonyPearceAuthorCheck out her website


Bryony Pearce (formerly McCarthy) lives with her husband and two children in a village on the edge of the Peak District. She completed an English Literature degree at Corpus Christi College Cambridge in 1998 and afterward worked in the business-to-business market research sector. She went freelance in 2004 so she could devote more time to writing. Bryony was a winner of the 2008 Undiscovered Voices competition with her MG novel Windrunner's Daughter. Her first YA novel, Angel's Fury, will be published on 4th July 2011 by Egmont.

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