Today I have a very exciting post for you. A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to go to Hay Festival, which you can read about here.
And at Hay Festival, the wonderful Emily at FMcM gave me the incredible opportunity to interview Sarah Crossan, the winner of the YA Book Prize 2016, with her beautiful YA novel One - a story about conjoined twins, sisterhood and the heart-wrenching loyalties that come with both of these bonds.
I can't wait to read One, especially after I heard Sarah talking about it at the YA Book Prize winner announcement. From what I heard about One, Sarah sounds like a very deserving winner, and I was so happy for her - One sounds like a book that encapsulates everything that is wonderful about YA fiction.
After the event, I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to talk to Sarah (who was lovely) and find out a bit more about One, her process in writing it, and what she adores about YA fiction.
Hi Sarah, Congratulations on your YA Book Prize win!
Could you tell us a bit about One and your inspiration behind the book?
I saw a documentary called 'Joined For Life' by the BBC about Abby and Brittany Hensel who are conjoined twins, living in Minnesota. At the time I was finishing Apple and Rain, but I was so fascinated by this idea of being conjoined. I have a sister, and I couldn't imagine having a twin who is conjoined! At this time my baby was eight months old, and at that point she was attached to me at all times, and people didn't think that was weird. People also don't think it's strange for people who are in love to hold hands and be with each other all day. However, people do think it's weird if you're conjoined, and think it is even weirder if you say that you want to be separated. So that's where the idea came from, and I wanted to write a book about two girls who were conjoined but didn't want to be, because one of them fell in love, and it turned into a completely different book, actually.
So how was the writing process different from when you wrote Apple and Rain to writing One?
The process of writing verse is different because I use a pen and paper, and it's much slower because I have to wait for the poems to come to me. It sounds a bit pretentious and magical but I can't force the words. With prose I can force myself to write 1,000 words a day - with Apple and Rain I was able to do that - and meet a deadline, whereas with One I couldn't do that because I was trying to write the best possible thing I could. With poetry every word counts, every bit of punctuation counts - you just have to wait for it to happen, you can't force it.
And how do you feel about winning the YA Book Prize?
Oh my god! I'm so happy! I really am so utterly delighted. I really didn't think it was going to be me - the shortlist is so incredible and the books are such heavyweights - they are all so exciting, innovative, and so well-written.
What's your favourite on the shortlist?
My favourite on the shortlist is Jenny Downham's Unbecoming - I just think it's a beautiful novel.
What's your favourite YA book at the minute?
At the minute it's Deirdre Sullivan's Needlework by Little Island Press, an Irish press. It's a book about a girl who has been abused, but it's written in such a subtle way that you really wouldn't know that's what it was about unless you understood that issue. So for young people who are not ready for that, they might not work out what's going on, which I think is a real skill and it's very difficult to do.
Could you sum up One in three words?
Poetry, sad, hopeful.
Thank you so much for the interview, Sarah, and thank you Emily at FMcM for organising it all :)
Check out my post about my time at Hay Festival here: http://delightfulbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/delightful-news-hay-festival-2016.html
Check out Sarah Crossan here: http://www.sarahcrossan.com
Buy One here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/One-Sarah-Crossan/dp/1408863111
Until next time :)