One of the most-praised debut authors of the year has been David Owen, whose book Panther, about a boy living with a sister who has depression and struggling to cope, sounds superb. (It’s been reviewed by several of my favourite reviewers – over at Once Upon A Bookcase, Joanne called it “a really incredible, important and powerful story; moving and very real” while at The Bookbag, Jill said “And, at a time when we are only just beginning to understand the costs of failing mental health, particularly on the young, we need these illuminating stories.”
We are very happy to have David tackling 5-4-3-2-1 today!
FIVE songs that sum up the last novel you wrote perfectly.
(cheating a bit here as the last novel I wrote won’t be out for a while yet!)
1. Type O Negative – I Don’t Wanna Be Me – My protagonist describes this as ‘a little on the nose,’ but the title alone sums up how she feels about herself, and it’s this that drives her whole story.
2. Iron Maiden – Running Free – If there’s a better anthem for teenage rebellion out there, I haven’t heard it. (If you say Smells Like Teen Spirit you are tacky and I hate you).
3. Faith No More – Everything’s Ruined – This is a wonderfully angry song about the expectations placed on young people and how others shape them into what they’re ‘supposed’ to be, an idea my protagonist simultaneously wants to follow and rebel against.
4. Explosions in the Sky – Your Hand In Mine – This book will have the most overt romantic element I’ve ever written, and this song is almost painfully romantic.
5. Nine Inch Nails – We’re In This Together – My characters stick together through everything, and their relationships become the most important thing in the world, over anything else. That’s what this song feels like.
FOUR pieces of advice you’d give yourself if you could travel back in time to before you became a published author
1. Stop moaning so much, you insufferable prick (advice I still fail to adhere to now that I am published).
2. Don’t self-publish anything until you have exhausted all other avenues, or unless that is exactly what you set out to do. It’s not going to make you rich, and it might cause significant problems later.
3. Don’t follow literally thousands of random people on Twitter to build your own follower number in the hope of looking important. It’s pointless, and will just leave your Twitter in a terrible mess. You’ll also inadvertently follow some truly reprehensible people.
4. You’re doing okay. Keep going.
THREE TV shows you can watch all day long (when not busy writing)
1. The Office (US) – This is my favourite show of all time, and I always have it on the go. It takes the cringe-factor of the UK original, adds a lot more laugh-out-loud humour, and a softer side that just makes you fall in love with the characters. This show got me through the worst bout of depression I’ve ever experienced. It means the world to me.
2. Battlestar Galactica – The first two seasons of this are some of the best TV there’s ever been. The writing is tight, great characters, big production values and, as it went on, a really potent streak of melancholy.
3. Football – It’s on TV, so it sort of counts! I could watch football matches every day and feel no shame.
TWO classics you wish more people were reading today
1. Feed by M.T. Anderson – This is a truly brilliant YA dystopia that never seems to get its due. In fact, I don’t think it’s even in print in the UK. Maybe it was just too prescient and dark to benefit from the popularity of YA dystopia. The final third is absolutely devastating.
2. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Okay, so obviously this is still widely hailed as a classic, but as one of my favourite books I’ve tried to get numerous friends to read it, and they always give up under the weight of names it throws at you. It’s such a magical book, and I just wish I could convince them to stick with it!
ONE place you love to read.
Bed. On a rainy day. When you have nothing to do and don’t have to go outside. And the cat is trying to sit on your face. Perfect.