Thanks to debut author Keren David, the fantastic author of When I Was Joe, for stopping by and answering these questions!
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I remember huge satisfaction writing my first 'book' - a re-telling of Jack and the Beanstalk when I was six. And I remember being very impressed when I met a 'proper writer' when I was about 9 and he had to assess me for my Brownie's writer's badge. But for years and years I was a journalist and I thought that was how I was going to be a writer. I've surprised myself by actually writing a book.
How did you go about getting published? Was it an easy process?
It wasn't exactly easy, but it was quite fast. I started querying agents as soon as I had a first draft - just what everyone tells you not to do. I queried multiple agents at a time - again, not necessarily the best thing to do. I got quite a few rejections, and then three agents in one week said they wanted to represent me. I signed with the wonderful Jenny Savill at Andrew Nurnberg Associates, and then felt smugly complacent that I'd get an instant publishing deal - well, it wasn't quite that easy as the recession had kicked in and besides some publishers were wary of a book about crime. Then Frances Lincoln made a two book offer. It took around ten months from starting to write the book to getting the offer.
When I Was Joe deals with the terrible subject of knife crime. Has this ever affected you personally?
Thankfully not. There was a boy who was a former pupil at my son's school who was stabbed to death in 2007, and another boy who was the friend of someone I know from the school was stabbed to death last year. So it feels close to home.
Witness protection is heavily featured in the book. How did you research this?
I knew quite a bit from my background in news journalism and I read about every case I could get information on, as well as the work of Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes who campaigns on behalf of intimidated witnesses and was himself threatened with death when he stood up to organised criminals. I talked to a barrister friend who has worked with protected witnesses as well, and he read the book to check all the legal aspects.
What do you hope your readers will learn from reading When I Was Joe?
I'd like people to think about the issues raised - about truth and justice and the nature of being a witness. I don't want to write books with obvious messages, but I want to explore interesting questions and leave it to readers to think about the answers.
Did you have any input into your lovely cover design/image?
Yes! I knew that some readers, girls especially might be wary of reading a book about crime. If it had a cover with a gory knife or skulking hoodies then they might not realise that there's a romance and humour in the book. So when I met people at the publishers and they asked me if I'd had any thoughts about the cover I said: 'I'd just stick a good-looking boy in a hoodie on the front.' And they did just that!
Can you tell us anything about your next book, Almost True?
Almost True carries on Ty's story from just after the end of When I Was Joe. Things go from bad to worse for Ty,and he's so traumatised that he can't even rely on his own experiences or memories. He's on the run almost completely throughout the book and he meets a lot of people from his past. It's a book about truth, friendship and betrayal.