By far the funnest part of the Hollow Pike book tour was the Q&A sessions – some of the questions were ‘out there’. Nothing I can come up with is as fun as reader’s questions, so this week, I’m opening up my blog to you, my lovely book-reading chums!
Mhairi Ledgerwood wants to know: What advice would you give to a writer trying to keep motivated and finish their first novel?
This comes up a lot. Most authors give the same advice – read lots of books in a similar genre, don’t give up etc. I’d like to quote Irish author Colm Toibin who said at the Shoreditch House Salon ‘Go home and write your f*****g book’. Crude, but he has a point. If I had a pound for everyone who said they had a great book idea…well let me get my Pensieve out and have a look! You have to write the bloody thing! Yes, it will take months of your life, but it will be worth it. The trick is in setting small goals and rewarding yourself. Finished a chapter? Woo! Have a Wispa. Finished 20,000 words? Have a cheesecake. In writing, no-one else but you is going to reward you. ‘Getting published’ is one goal of many.
Eden Ottman says Hollow Pike is AMAZING.. my question is … did you have to reasearch a lot for the book and is there a sequel???
To the first part, the answer is yes AND no. The characters and setting are a part of my past, so I knew them instinctively. However, without wanting to give anything way, the witchcraft element did need a lot of research. I read The Crucible, The Malleus Maleficarum and lots and lots about the Pendle witch trials.
I think it’s time to talk about the sequel, because a lot of people have been asking. Before I signed my deal with Orion, I had already written most of a sequel to Hollow Pike. I won’t reveal the title, but I will say it focused on the character of Kitty Monroe. There was a whole new mystery for the gang to solve. But, these are tricky times for bookshops and publishers. A sequel is only going to happen if Hollow Pike is a huge success. The reviews have been AMAZING, which I’m thrilled about, but now I need you all to spread the word like crazy! I really hope I can share Kitty’s story with you one day soon!
For now, all I will say about the second novel from Orion is that it’s a twisty turny thriller! Watch this space!
Michael ‘King Peter’ Andrews asks Was The Crucible inspiration?
Very much so. The Crucible is a metaphor for victimisation and scapegoating. The message of that play is as relevant today as it was then. In fact, with the media becoming more and more powerful, there are all sorts of ‘witch-hunts’ happening in the world today. I think Muslims and gay people get a very tough time in the press.
Laura H wants to know: Have you seen a stranger buying or reading Hollow Pike and did you say/do anything when you noticed?
I’m still waiting for the stranger on the tube moment (although I’m SURE that’s because everyone bought the Kindle version ;)). That said, at a recent signing a reader came in to get her book signed – she’d randomly bought it because of the beautiful cover and then loved it. That was a very special feeling – to know that people are out there choosing to buy Hollow Pike is an honour.
Gavin Gunter asked: James Dawson – in 10 years time… what do you want to have achieved?
My big fat goal is to carry on writing full-time. It’s the best job in the world. I always say my job is ‘writer’ not necessarily ‘author’. Fiction is my true-love, but I would also like to write for newspapers and magazines, non-fiction and perhaps even scripts. It would be UNREAL to see someone adapt one of my novels for the stage or screen. I would also like to have achieved a marriage (yes, a marriage, not a ‘civil partnership’) to a Hemsworth brother. I’m not particularly bothered which, which I think makes me very reasonable.
Ellie Fryer says: How did you decide on a title for your book? How did you come up with such an original idea for Hollow Pike when there are lots of books written about the same thing (for example vampires)? ?
The title was originally ‘Bracken Hill’, but at quite a late stage I discovered that Bracken Hill is a hugely successful jam company in Yorkshire. ‘Bracken Hill – The town where jam never sleeps’ isn’t VERY scary so we changed it! A lovely teacher I used to work with called Sophie helped me choose ‘Hollow Pike’. Pike is old english for hill, plus has an unsettling tone to it, I think.
Trends in YA fiction are silly. Schedules are set years in advance, so you just have to write what you want to write about. I had no idea that witchcraft was going to be trendy this year, but it’s worked out that way. I think with things like vampires, they never ever go out of fashion. The supernatural will always fascinate us, because we can’t fully understand it, and that taps into something scary. Everyone loves a scare!
Emma Davies asks: Any tips for handling bullying in school for my pupils?
The main message of Hollow Pike is, MAKE THE RIGHT FRIENDS. I think so many bullying problems stem from faulty friendships. I’m not happy about it, but I think a bit of bullying is inevitable. Schools are so crowded and competitive that social climbing is bound to happen. As sad as it seems, putting someone down is a way to get ahead. BUT – if you have the right friends, you can feel invincible.
I think teachers should work on empowering young people to be assertive and confident. If someone says ‘ha, you look stupid’, we need to get students in the position where they think ‘I actually don’t care.’ If you feel confident in yourself, your opinions and your lifestyle, it’s so much harder to be a victim.
And finally, pedantic singer/songwriter Stuart Warwick wants to know: How did Mrs Gillespie get Lis’s phone number in Hollow Pike?
With as few spoilers as possible, I think it would be reasonable to say that Mrs Gillespie has her means…she’s no ordinary old lady, is she?
Thank you so much for your questions! I really enjoyed answering them, and they were all very sensible! I’d love to do this again, so ALWAYS feel free to leave questions on Facebook and Twitter! Or even under here in the comments box!
Lots of love, James xxx