I don't know about you, but it seemed like this week lasted forever. I thought Friday would never arrive. Thankfully, it's here now! Let's celebrate with an interview, shall we? Today we're talking with author Cecily Anne Patterson about her novel INVISIBLE.
Welcome to We Do Write! Tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm an Aussie, but I grew up overseas in Pakistan from the ages of 3 to 16. Everyone thinks I had a really exotic childhood but I just assumed it was all kind of normal. I went to boarding school in the Himalayas and in the holidays went home to my parents living in the desert. These days I'm very, very normal and live in a small Australian town with my husband, four children and a dog. I like craft and chocolate and not cooking.
How long have you been writing?
I won a primary school writing competition at the age of 8, beating 10 and 11 year olds and I knew when they called my name out that this was going to be my destiny. After uni I worked in editing and communications and I wrote my first book – a biography – about eight years ago and started blogging. It's been all go since then.
Tell us about INVISIBLE. What’s the story about?
Jazmine has been hiding from the world since her father died four years ago. She's safer when she feels invisible, but all that has to change when she's forced to help out with the school play. She makes the first friends she's had in years (including Liam, a hand-ball-playing, chocolate loving, drama 'nerd'), gets enthusiastic about growing her own garden and finds out she's actually got some acting talent hiding inside. When the school bully Shalini confronts her, though, Jazmine has to make some choices. Will she back down and quit the play? Can she tell the truth about what she's been hiding from her new friends? And can she face knowing what really happened to her dad?
How did the idea of the story come to you?
I was having coffee with my friend and her 16 year old daughter Mollie, who I've always thought of as a really shy, quiet person. When I found out that Mollie was taking a drama elective at school I was really surprised. "Oh no," said her mum. "She's like a different person on the stage." Immediately I knew that this would have to be the core of the story – that a quiet person would come to life through drama. I just had to work out the rest of the details.
Do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?
I do both. Having worked as an editor gives me a bit of a head start, but it's good to get other people's feedback. About ten different people read INVISIBLE and I was amazed at how different each person's feedback was.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Definitely a plotter. But that's me in life too. I like to have a plan for whatever I'm doing. It makes me feel nervous if I'm not sure where I'm going. Having said that though, it's a rough plan which allows room to wriggle as I go.
What’s the hardest part of writing for you?
Staying off facebook. Seriously. I'm very easily distracted. Apart from that, it's really about self-discipline to just sit down and get those words out. I write a vague plan for each chapter, then a draft and then a real version. (In writing this very paragraph I checked FB at least four times.)
What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?
A cup of tea. Make that four cups of tea. Decaf, lots of milk and one sugar. The thing I don't need to have nearby is my two year old. She goes to preschool for six hours a week so that's the time I have to write.
If you could have any super power, what would it be?
The ability to clean my house and cook all the meals in only ten minutes a day. Failing that, the power to invent and manufacture a machine that will do it all for me. Failing that, the ability to make money easily so I can pay for permanent house help. You get the picture.
What's the weirdest thing you've googled?
'How to make an invisibility potion'. My 9 year old son asked me if I could help him make one. I said, 'sure, as long as you can find a recipe online'. Sadly, no such thing exists.
Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: invisible, umbrella, and launched.
The potion to make me invisible seemed to work okay (even though it was kinda weird that I could actually see through myself) but the rain was still heavy, and as I launched my umbrella above my head I could see passers by doing a double take. Most of them seemed to be able to create some sort of believable explanation for a disembodied umbrella floating along the street and moved on, but then, behind me, came a child's shrill shriek. "Mum! You said there was no such thing. But I told you it was possible!"
Finish this sentence: If I'm not writing, I'm probably ...
If I'm not writing, I'm probably cooking or cleaning (see super power answer above) or answering questions about making invisibility potions and other completely random stuff.
Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.
My husband gives me whatever time I need to write and always encourages me. My eldest daughter 'test reads' for me and tells me when things are lame or daggy. A whole bunch of individuals read and comment and edit – too many to name, and my facebook fans are always kind and encouraging. Of course, the people I really, truly love are the ones who take the time to leave a positive review!
And finally, where can people find you and your books online?
I blog about my young adult writing at www.cecilyannepaterson.weebly.com
I blog for adults at www.cecilypaterson.squarespace.com
You can find Invisible (or my award winning memoir, Love Tears & Autism) on Amazon, itunes, smashwords, barnes & noble and any other e-book sellers.
Invisible is and will always be free as an ebook. Love Tears & Autism costs a little more.
If you want paperback copies of Invisible, try lulu.com or Amazon and you can order Love Tears & Autism through your local bookstore or from my website directly: www.cecilypaterson.squarespace.com
Bio: Cecily Anne Paterson is what they call a TCK, or a third culture kid, which basically means she grew up overseas and has some weird issues. Now she’s a mostly normal Australian living in a small town in New South Wales, although her four children don’t wouldn’t necessarily agree with the mostly normal bit. She’s been an editor, a communications officer, an ESL teacher and now a writer. Her ambition is to write two young adult books a year for the next ten years.
Get the book (ebook is FREE) at:
also at itunes
Social links and websites:
http://cecilypaterson.squarespace.com/ (more for grownups)
Jazmine Crawford doesn’t make decisions. She doesn’t make choices. She doesn’t make friends. Jazmine Crawford only wants one thing: to be invisible.
For Jazmine, it’s a lot easier to take out her hearing aid and drift along in life pretending that nothing’s wrong than it is to admit that she’s heartbroken about her dad dying. She’s been drifting and ignoring her over-worried mum for four years now. But something’s got to give – and soon.
When bad girl Shalini and her mates adopt Jazmine, she follows along without thinking but quickly finds herself part of their plan to vandalise the drama classroom. Jazmine manages to save the key prop, a jewelled headdress, before drama teacher Miss Fraser walks in to find a room full of destruction. Later, sitting in disgrace in the principal’s office, Jazmine is offered a choice: become a ‘runner’ for Miss Fraser in the upcoming production of The Secret Garden or face a three week suspension and a permanent mark on her record.
It’s Miss Fraser who clinches the decision. “I believe in you Jazmine,” she says. “I know you can do this.” And Jazmine, terrified, disbelieving and elated all at the same time, joins the play and leaves her invisible life behind.
For a while it’s all good. Writing in the new journal that Miss Fraser gives her connects her to the memories she has of her father. Drama star and chocolate lover Liam is friendly and Jazmine realises that making friends, talking to her mother and feeling her emotions isn’t as scary as she thought. In the play, Jazmine becomes the prompter and a stand in and discovers to her amazement that she loves the stage and has a natural talent for acting. In a final happy twist of fate, acting diva Angela breaks both her ankles and with only a week before the curtain goes up, Miss Fraser asks Jazmine to take on the main role of Mary.
But it’s not quite as good as it seems. Jazmine is still fearful and doesn’t want to give too much away. She can’t quite believe that Liam likes her, and is worried that if people knew what she was really like, they wouldn’t want to be her friend.
But then Shalini returns from her suspension. In her mind, she has been betrayed. She’s out for payback, and she expects that Jazmine is going to do what she’s told, or else she just might expose her greatest secret...
1 paperbacks of Invisible by Cecily Anne patterson
Ends 22nd June
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