Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Interview with YA Author Annie Try

Today on Bookaholic I am delighted to welcome YA writer Annie Try. Thank you for joining us Annie. I know you have a hectic schedule so I am delighted that you have taken time out to spend some time with us today. Now that you are in the hot seat I have some questions to ask.

I am sure the readers would love to hear about you. Could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?

Where do I start? I am married to Ken, have five children and many wonderful grandchildren. I live in a large old house in rural Norfolk, which is rather shabbier than shabby chic. I have a rich spiritual life, being on the leadership team for a community church. I work from home, not only writing but also as a clinical psychologist, my main clients being children and young people. Once we had a wonderful peacock called Tarquin strolling around our untidy garden, but alas he left one spring to find love and did not return. We still have my parents’ geriatric bossy cat and our Old English Sheepdog, Maisie, who thinks she’s still a puppy.

I have been writing psychological articles and books (as Angela Hobday) for many years, but only recently turned to fiction.

Your book is about two young adults and how they cope with tragedy. Is the book simply aimed at the YA market or could it be enjoyed by other age groups?

I was inspired to write Losing Face, after attending a seminar on working with children and young adults of unusual appearance. There was very little YA fiction on display – only Benjamin Zephaniah’s book which is about a boy who is hurt in a fire. By the time I arrived home I had the plot all worked out for a girl who has to cope with life after an accident that changes her appearance. When it came to being published, the novel was accepted as general fiction. I’m delighted that adults seem to enjoy it enough to buy it for teens they know.

Characterisation is a strong part of your novel. How do you go about developing the novels?

With Losing Face, I started with the characters and an outline story. I drew huge mind maps working out each main characters likes, dislikes, attitudes, etc. Much of this I didn’t use, but it built the foundation for creating realistic people who almost took the story along on their own. They became so alive for me, that I would say “I must go to see to my girls,” when writing or editing.

As well as characters, many books also give a sense of place. Is place an important part of your book? If so, could you give us a taste of the place in which you are writing. If not what led you to omit this aspect of the story?

Losing Face is set in Ely, but I have been careful to not to highlight the place and only focus on the parts of the City which are important to the story. This keeps the emphasis on the central issues in the book. I worked out a fictional street plan for the girls to reach each other’s houses and the centre of Ely. When the action moves to Cambridge, real shop names are used along with an imagined dress shop similar to one I once visited.

Your book deals very heavily with emotions and friendship. How difficult was it to write about this?

Therapy is all about emotions, so I felt I had a wealth of information to use from working with this age group. The trickiest part was to keep the feelings of the main two characters separate, so that each girl experienced and responded to what was happening in a unique way.

When you are not writing what types of books do you read? What would you say was the best book you have ever read?

I read anything in my search for beautifully constructed sentences, exceptional description or an extraordinary tale. I have just started The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide, I learned a huge amount from F.Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and enjoy YA fiction writers such as Mark Haddon, Louis Sachar and Stephen May. The ‘best book’ contest has joint winners; The Time Traveler’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger) and The Book Thief (Markus Zusak).

Have you got any more books planned? If so could you give Bookaholic readers a taste of these?

Yes I have three nearing completion:

Dancing in the Dark is the sequel to Losing Face, covering Em’s search to find out about her father. What she discovers has huge implications for her own life.

Out of Silence follows psychologist Mike as he struggles with his own issues whilst working to help an elective mute disclose his traumatic past.

Trying to Fly contains both a mystery and psychology as a recovering agoraphobic endeavours to find the truth about an incident in her childhood, when she witnessed a man die.

I plan a third Cass and Em novel and probably a series of novels about interesting people with extraordinary stories who just happen to see a psychologist named Mike.

Now we are getting personal. What is your favourite food?

That’s easy. My daughter-in-law’s home-made icecream. Rich, creamy and utterly scrummy.

If you ever have a day off from writing books what do you like to do in your spare time?
Dancing, theraping, praying, keeping in touch with family and friends, church activities, playing the cello, encouraging writing groups, planning a holiday (Italy probably). May I have a few more days off than one, please?

I know you are a Christian. What part does this play in your writing? Is your book specifically Christian or aimed at a crossover market?

I would say there is a light Christian thread that runs through the books just because of my faith. I am incredibly aware of the spiritual dimension in people’s lives. That affects my character portrayals although not in an obvious way. I have had Losing Face positively reviewed by non-Christians, so it appears to have met my aim of being accessible to all my readers.

Wow, you really are a busy lady with all those books planned. My mouth is now drooling at the thought of that Ice Cream. I hope you enjoy that holiday to Italy if you ever manage to get some time off. Thank you once again for joining us today and answering the Bookaholic readers questions.

You can buy the book via the following links. Please note Bookaholic will receive a small affiliate payment if you buy the book through these links


You can find out more about Annie and her writing in the following links




That's it for another Bookaholic day. I will see you all back here very soon. Until we meet again, keep reading. 

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