Monday, June 21, 2010

Interview: Cath Crowley, author of A Little Wanting Song

Please welcome Cath Crowley, author of A Little Wanting Song. You can read my review here. Cath spends her time young adult fiction and fiction for younger children. She likes reading, TV marathons, the planetarium, politics and hanging out with her friends.

1. Please describe your novel in 50 words or less.
A Little Wanting Song is about longing. Charlie is desperate to belong, to be noticed by a boy, to have her mother alive again. Rosie is desperate to be different, to get away from her boyfriend and from her mother. It’s about what happens when their different wanting songs collide.

2. Where did you draw inspiration for A Little Wanting Song? Was it challenging to write Charlie's songs?
I was on a train once and I saw a girl carrying a guitar. She had long hair and the saddest eyes and she gave me the initial idea for the character, Charlie Duskin.

Charlie is an outsider, so I wanted her to have another language, another way to enter the world. To get her voice I spent ages listening to bands and singers that I thought she might like – Fiona Apple, Natalie Merchant, Spiderbait, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix. Eventually a sort of rolling, lyrical voice emerged.

I found it really difficult to translate her prose voice into poetry. I kept sitting in front of a blank screen waiting for something to happen but nothing did.

In the end I played the music I thought she’d like – played it really loud so I could barely think - and I wrote at the same time. I put down whatever came into my head. Usually I can’t write unless it’s quiet but somehow that time the noise worked for me.

I took the interesting lines or words from that writing session and worked them into a song/poem. My American editor, Allison Wortche, did a beautiful job of editing them for me. It’s amazing how one word can change a sentence.

Rose’s voice is much harsher. She’s desperate to get away. I grew up in a small country town so I know what it’s like to be restless. Rose was much easier to write than Charlie.

3. Everyone reads classics in high school English. Which ones did you love? Which ones should students never be forced to read?
I loved classics like Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, To Kill a Mockingbird and Ivanhoe but we didn’t study those at school.

I remember reading Beowulf in Year 12 Literature and loving it. Other ones that stand out are George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion and all the Shakespeare we studied, especially Othello.

As for which ones students should never be forced to read, that’s difficult.
Even books that I haven’t loved have given me something to think about. A mix of literature is important though - classic, contemporary, prose, poetry, lyrics. Maybe for every classic there should be one text that students choose.

4. One book you recommend to everyone?
Definitely The Princess Bride by William Goldman. True love and high adventure.

5. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
If I had to choose this second it would be the Amalfi Coast. It looks so incredibly beautiful. But maybe from there I could head across to Paris. And on the way home I could stop off in New York. I’d love to visit The Museum of Modern Art.

6. Are you working on anything at the moment? If so, please tell us a bit about it.
I’m finishing off Graffiti Moon, to be published by Pan Macmillan in August this year.

Lucy Dervish is the main character and she’s on this all-night adventure to find Shadow, a graffiti artist everyone talks about. Lucy’s sure that if they could actually meet, the two of them would really hit it off.

Shadow paints these amazing pictures all over the city - birds trapped on brick walls and people lost in ghost forests. He paints guys with grass growing from their hearts and girls with buzzing lawn mowers. That’s all Lucy knows of him, and from this she’s decided what he must be like.

During the night Lucy runs into Ed, who’s pretty much the last guy she wants to have anything to do with. He knows where to find Shadow, though; so the two of them start searching for him together.

It’s about art - how it gives people another language, another way to enter the world. It’s about love too. I like the line on the cover: an artist, a dreamer, a long mean night.

7. Any last words?
If anyone has any other questions they can find me at or on the Cath Crowley Author facebook page.

And thanks to everyone who has read A Little Wanting Song. It’s exciting to have the book out in another country.

Thanks so much for joining us Cath!

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