I wanted people to look at the slave trade differently and the reversal was the vehicle for me to do that ... I wondered whether if I turned the slave/master roles around, people would have a different response to the issues ... Read the interview hereThe white heroine is a farm girl taken away to be a slave in 'Aphrika'. The cover is very striking and it would be interesting to see how Evaristo builds her world. The Noughts and Crosses franchise is on its fourth book - Double Cross is out in November.
My fascination is partly out of self-interest - last year I started a novel based around some reporting I'd done on children left behind by the migration phenomenon in the Philippines.
The writing was bogged down by the weight and complexity of the reality I was trying to paint and I found myself turning to fantasy. The result was Ugly City, a 9+ novel about a city where parents have to leave and children stay behind.
If you had asked me a year ago if I would ever write a fantasy, I would have said of course not (I haven't even read Lord of the Rings, shock, horror!). But fantasy lends itself to turning unpalatable truths into roaring drama and with the layers pared away, I gained a lot of insight into the immigration situation I was trying to reflect on.
• They're not doing it for the love of books. Publishers want something that sells. Similarly, bookstores want something that sells. Publishers and bookstores want a book that sells early, sells often, and sells for a long, long time. If they don't think your book will sell, they won't pay much attention.
• Conversely, if your book will sell, it doesn't matter what you're writing about. You could write something boring, or irrelevant, or nothing at all - just a blank set of pages with a coffee stain on them will work fine, if the book sells. Do you get the picture? It's not about any high-minded ideals of literature, or craft, or changing the world - publishers and bookstores want something that sells. Drop any illusions about spending time with book lovers; this is business.
I met Mark Robson, uber prolific author of YA fantasy series like Imperial Spy and Dragon Orb, when I appeared before the Scattered Authors Society to tell them the Internet doesn't bite.
Mark was one of the authors who didn't really need my advice, since he already had an excellent website, blogged regularly and spent a lot of time meeting readers at bookstore events. He emailed me today to let me know he'd invested in a game on his website and do I know any youngsters who would like to check it out.
Youngsters (and Oldsters if you so feel the need)! Go slay some dragons! Here's the link to Mark's game page, see how you do.