By Marty Mulrooney
I recently read a wonderful novel entitled White Crow, describing it as “a scary, heart-warming, intelligent book” in my AMO review and awarding it a perfect 10 OUT OF 10. Quotes from my review have even appeared on the book’s Amazon.co.uk product page! I was therefore understandably delighted when award winning British author Marcus Sedgwich agreed to let me interview him about White Crow and his other novels in an exclusive online interview.
Welcome to AMO Mr Sedgwick, thank you for your time! Can you tell our readers about yourself please?
Erm, what shall I tell you? I’ve been writing for over ten years now, and have published around 15 books, mostly aimed at teens and younger readers. I’m drawn to write about unusual things, strange ideas have almost always been the starting point for my stories, and I have a fondness for the darker side of literature.
Congratulations on the publication of White Crow, I absolutely loved it as I am sure you could tell from my review! Where did the inspiration come from for this latest novel?
It was two things – first of all the desire to write a modern gothic novel (I had an idea to write about an intense friendship between two teenage girls) and a true story I found about a French scientist who tried to conduct some experiments into the afterlife…
In my review for White Crow I mentioned my surprise at how much I connected with the female characters. How do you approach writing the opposite sex so authentically?
That’s kind of you – I’m very glad you felt they were realistically portrayed. All I can say is that it is, after all, the job of an author to imagine people that they are not, and sometimes that includes people of the opposite gender. Listening to language is very important, however, to get it right.
How much research goes into your work? White Crow has a wonderful sense of time and place.
Usually a lot, a bit less so with White Crow, though since the setting for the novel is based on a real place, I spent a lot of time there, getting the atmosphere right. There was also some research to do with the scientist, and I spent a long time reading some old diaries to get the voice of the rector right…
Am I correct in saying that White Crow is intended as a love story as well as a horror story?
Yes, absolutely. Though it is a strange kind of love story.
Perhaps horror is too strong a word actually, but I certainly read some truly scary passages within the book! Do you enjoy writing such moments?
Sometimes it would be fair to say I enjoy them, sometimes enjoy would the wrong word. Endure, perhaps, might be better!
Your previous novel Revolver was set in a cabin north of the Artic Circle. Is it harder to write books set in these somewhat unfamiliar environments?
I don’t know if it’s hard, all I can say is that I enjoy it. Learning about somewhere, thinking how best to bring it to life, getting it all down on paper, is all great fun. And it can mean some enjoyable trips sometimes, too.
You have won many awards over the years for your writing. Which are you most proud of?
I think that would have to be The Booktrust Teenage Prize, for My Swordhand is Singing. It was a vindication. I shall say no more.
Would you consider yourself as a genre writer?
I’m not sure. I don’t think so. I think my publishing house would like to know what it was, if so!
What is your favourite novel by another author and why?
That’s really hard, and I think I could pick a thousand, but probably if I had to pick one book that’s had the greatest influence on me, it would be Gormenghast Trilogy, by Mervyn Peake.
What is your favourite novel of your own? Why?
That’s an even harder question, which I am going to answer in this slightly devious way – the next one. I’ve nearly finished writing it and its called Midwinterblood.
Where do you write? Is it always the same place?
Mostly I work in a writing shed, in the garden. But sometimes I go away, especially if I have a lot of catching up to do!
Do you ever get frustrated when writing? Do you always work one book at a time?
I get frustrated more when I’m not writing, when it’s just not happening. I usually work one book at a time, but at the moment I’m writing a short story, a novel, a screenplay, and a graphic novel.
Is it true that you are also a musician and an illustrator?
Yep, I play the drums, and I used to play bass, too. I have illustrated some of my books, but I wouldn’t call myself an illustrator.
What other creative areas do you like to dabble in?
I used to make wood engravings and etchings, and carve in stone, but I haven’t had time of late. It’s something I hope to return to.
Who inspires you creatively?
Like most creative people, that inspiration or desire seems to come from inside, though of course there are people I admire – musicians mostly.
Can you tell us about any of your upcoming projects?
Well, I’ve already mentioned my next novel – Midwinterblood. It’s the story of how the lives we lead may not be the only ones we could have led, and is written in quite an adventurous structure…
Thank you once again for your time!
You are very welcome – thanks for your support!