readergirlz is a literacy and social media project for teens, awarded the National Book Foundation's Innovations in Reading Prize. The rgz blog serves as a depot for news and YA reviews from industry professionals and teens. As volunteers return full force to their own YA writing, the organization continues to hold one initiative a year to impact teen literacy. All are welcome to "like" us on Facebook!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Chatting with Patrick Ness!

The amazing Patrick Ness, author of the award-winning The Knife of Never Letting Go couldn't make it to our LIVE! chat last week, but he did agree to answer the questions posed for him during the chat. Promise fulfilled:

1. What were you doing when you found out you were a Teens' Top Ten nominee?

Probably writing. I say "probably" because that's all I've been doing for the last year, pretty much every minute. Every once in awhile, something really nice will happen and I'll lift my head and wave and then feel guilty and get back to work.

2. The Chaos Walking series is highly acclaimed. Is there one award you’ve won that has meant the most to you? Which one and why?

I couldn't possibly choose between them! Awards are really, really nice for so many reasons, not least of which that they get your book into the hands of readers. For that, the Carnegie Medal Shadowing Scheme here in the UK is unbelievably brilliant. Literally thousands of young people read the whole shortlist and then have these big multi-school events where they argue over a winner. I went to a few for Knife, and they were great. In the end, I didn't win, but participating in the Shadowing Scheme was amazing. A roomful of 400 teens arguing over books! Bliss.

3. What's the most memorable experience you've had with one of your readers?

I've had one teenage reader write and record a song based on The Knife of Never Letting Go, which was just really touching. Really good song, too, a very talented girl who's definitely going places.

4. Do your books have different covers in the states and England?

They do! The English covers are more emblematic (above), as English covers tend to be, and the American covers are more narrative, as American covers tend to be (right). No idea why that is, just how they've grown over time, I imagine, but I've had people loudly claim their preference for both sides, so they're obviously both doing something right.

5. What did you just finish reading?

Just today I finished reading the next Peter Carey. A perk of being a book reviewer is occasionally getting proofs months and months in advance. It's called Parrot and Olivier in America, and it's so rich and juicy and churning, like all his stuff. I'm a huge fan.

6. The Knife of Never Letting Go was your first book for young adults. Did you treat the writing process differently in any way?

Not really. You do of course have to take in some concerns about things like depiction of profanity (though I get around that), but mainly no. I think if you start worrying too much about the exact kind of book you're writing, you end up forgetting to pay attention to the story, and who's going to want to read that? I just tried to keep in mind what I'd have wanted to read when I was teenager and what I liked and didn't like and that was it. A teenage audience of one. But that way, I could really, really enjoy telling the story, and I think it's that joy that translates the page and to the reader. That's my hope, anyway.

7. What made you want to write for Young Adults?

The story told me to! Seriously, I wasn't planning on it, I just keep turning over the voice and trying different things and it suddenly revealed itself as a story for young adults. And I thought, great! I found it really liberating, because young adults are a tough audience, if they don't like you, they'll put you right down and tell everyone how bad you are. But if you do respect them, then they're also far less snobbish and more willing to take risks and come to far off places. Exactly the kind of audience I like.

8. What is your writing / revising process?

In a first draft, I write 1000 words a day. Then the next day, I go back to the begining of that, work my through it with a blue pen, the add 1000 words on to the end of it. Repeat the process until I've got a chapter or a section, then begin again with the next one. That way, my first drafts get a fair bit of rewriting in them already and I can always have the story being told in my head from beginning to end.

9. When is the next Chaos Walking book coming out?

It's called Monsters of Men and looks to be coming out in May 2010 in the UK. Not sure yet of the US release date but the last two have been September, so probably then.

10. What are you working on now?

I'm working on the very final revisions to Monsters of Men! It's a big ol' book, bringing this story to a close, so I want to get it exactly right. I'm almost there...

Keep going, Patrick! Thanks so much for your thoughtful answers. Readergirlz, comment on the chat post for a shot at winning a copy of Patrick's books, as well as Cassandra Clare's and Melissa Walker's.


Little Willow said...

Thanks for answering the questions, Patrick, and thanks to Melissa for being the messenger! :)

holly cupala said...

Thank you, Mr. Ness, and Melissa! I thought the voice was brilliant. Just brilliant, from word one.

Anonymous said...

Great post, I enjoyed reading it!

Lorie Ann Grover said...

Thanks for the follow through, Melissa and Patrick! Great dialogue! I loved hearing about the Shadow Scheme, too. *rubs hands together scheming*

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