Tell us about the myth On Midnight Beach is based on.
On Midnight Beach is a reimagining of The Táin, which is a blood-soaked battle-filled epic. I wanted to strip the whole story back to its essentials and bring the violence down to more realistic proportions, explore the main characters and concentrate on their relationships. And I really, really wanted to bring Maeve – sexy, amoral, gloriously self-centred Queen Maeve – to life as a teenager.
What do you enjoy about writing for a YA audience?
It’s challenging (and exciting) because it demands that I engage with the interior lives of my characters at a time when they are actively seeking out who they are and who they will ultimately become. The story needs to be urgent and pacy, but I think characters and their personal journeys are really what it’s all about in YA fiction.
What are your three desert island books?
Pride and Prejudice would be a must – it’s my go-to book for when I’m feeling blue. It’s so romantic and, no matter how many times I read it, it never fails to make me laugh. I’m so glad I didn’t read it in school though, as I’m pretty sure I’d have hated it then!
Olive Kitteridge. I love how Elizabeth Strout brings the main character in and out of focus as she moves through other people’s lives. There’s a real sense of being right there, in New England, eavesdropping.
A favourite recent YA read, Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock, caught me in exactly the same way. I’d bring it along for its cast of heart-breaking misfits and the feeling of being on a roadtrip where anything might – and does – happen.
Find out more about On Midnight Beach, here.