Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Author Interview: Susie Day

Susie Day, UK author of Big Woo! (Serafina 67 in the US) and Girl Meets Cake, is here to talk about gingerbread men, boarding school and US/UK title changes. If you've ever wondered if there's a recipe for becoming a teen author, read on...


How did you end up as a (very cool) teen author?

In the spirit of Girl Meets Cake, here's my own personal recipe:

Recipe for a (very geeky and a bit ridiculous) Teen Author

compulsive bookishness in childhood
willingness to sit alone in darkened room typing lots

Allow compulsive bookishness to ferment into 'I could do that too' conviction. Ignore for several years. Remember again in time to enter BBC Talent children's writing competition, adding tablespoonsful of luck until your adventure story called Whump! in which Bill falls 632 miles down a manhole wins and gets published. Proceed to muck about on the internet a lot while working with teenagers, until plot thickens. Write book. Repeat final step until Teen Author starts taking up all the space in the kitchen with her laptop and bits of paper. (Note: for a 'very cool' teen author, add vampires.)

I should add that whenever I'm cooking, I always ignore the recipe.

Why did the title of your first book, Big Woo!, get changed to Serafina67 *urgently requires life* in the US?

Actually it was the other way around! Both editions were going to be called Serafina67 *urgently requires life* - but my UK publishers wanted something less cryptic, more 'title-ish', so they plucked out a phrase that Sarah seemed to use a lot. It's quite common to repackage books for different audiences, though. Girl Meets Cake will be My Invisible Boyfriend when it comes out next year in the US – I've just been looking at the new cover images, and they couldn't be more different! I love seeing all these changes, all the alternative ways a story can be interpreted. That's what readers do with books, always, but writers don't usually get to watch it happening.

In Girl Meets Cake, Heidi invents a boyfriend called Gingerbread Ed. Where did the hilarious idea to make him a biscuit come from?

I'd decided to write about a girl who creates an imaginary boyfriend to impress/distract her friends, and I kept picturing this comfy, quirky, friendly cafe where you'd want to spend all your time. The idea of Betsy giving Heidi a literal gingerbread boyfriend was only supposed to be a little scene which showed their dynamic, but it turned out to be quite entertaining to have Heidi actually talking to this gingerbread boy propped up on her desk, slowly getting more crumby and disappointing.

The Goldfinch boarding school sounds very, very fun. Did you base it on personal experience?

I went to a very ordinary comprehensive school myself, and even though I work at an international boarding school right now, it's not at all like the Finch! But I did borrow the idea of a Wassail performance from there, and I'm sure living with 15 teenage boys (with another 15 girls next door) affects what I write. I'd never pinch anything specific from their real lives for a story, but they constantly remind me what a difficult, confusing time it is, and they have so many issues – far from home, roommates, some broken families, cultural and linguistic barriers – that I never had to deal with, and I was already freaking out about exams, jobs, clothes, relationships, parents, best friends, money, all the rest...

One of Heidi's favourite things is fictional show Mycroft Christie Investigates. Do you have a real-life fangirl love for any TV shows?

My earliest fangirl experience was watching Tom Baker regenerate into Peter Davison on Doctor Who, and deciding that the blond crickety chap was much nicer. I think I was 7. Not much has changed since then. I'm an unrepentant geek for all things Whedony, scored by Lalo Schifrin, or involving 1970s cops being very manly at one another – and of course I'm still waiting for my TARDIS invite.

Will we ever see more of Gingerbread Ed, or did he get thrown away for good?

I reckon Heidi might have found herself an adequate replacement... But the Gingerbread Ed who is pictured on the book cover is actually sitting (with Gingerbread Heidi) in my editor's office. A lovely lady named Alice baked them specially for the cover, and we're all wondering what to do with them. They're too cute to just chuck in the bin.

You recently baked a rather brilliant gingerbread Blakes-7 cast. Do you have any other hidden talents we should know about?

I got all the way to Grade 1 on the violin, I make a mean risotto, and I know how to say 'I love ice-cream' in Russian. In other words, nope. Icing Blake's big hair and sticking little silver balls all over Avon is me at my most creative, sorry.

Can you tell us anything about your next book?

Actually I can't! Not because I haven't though of it yet, though. Obviously. It's because it's top secret and if I told you I'd have to kill you. Obviously. *coughs*


Check out Susie's site for more baked goods hilarity, and read my Girl Meets Cake review here. Thank you, Susie!


Kate said...

Great interview :D
Grade 1 on the violin? That's a grade more than me ^_^

Luisa said...

Oh, fantastic interview! Thank you, Susie and Jenny!

I love-love-loved Girl Meets Cake. I love-love-loved Big Woo! *fangirls at Susie Day*

Luisa said...

By the way, I love the thought that there's a real Gingerbread Ed and Gingerbread Heidi!

Jo said...

Awesome interview! Girl Eats Cake sounds pretty damn funny!

You have an award to collect, by the way:

So Many Books, So Little Time said...

She's so funny! If her books are as funny as she is, I won't be reading them on the train to college!

Kate said...

And a little birdie told me, you have an award: