Welcome back to another author interview! I can’t continue with this post until I remind everyone how important all our efforts our right now and how they should be directed to the Black Lives Matter movement first and foremost! Please keep educating yourself, signing petitions, sharing links, donating if you can and doing anything at all to help the cause! It’s so important to make noise right now, especially for Black trans lives that have been shockingly ignored by the media. Here is a link to a list of petitions that have not yet reached their goals and need your help!
Today we have the fabulous Sophie Cameron for an interview, author of Out of the Blue and the more recent, Last Bus to Everland—which you can order from Book Depository here!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hi! I’m Sophie, an author of young adult fiction. I’m originally from the Scottish Highlands, spent around 10 years in Edinburgh, and now live in Barcelona with my wife.
Some of my all-time favourite books include Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, Naive. Super by Erlend Loe, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, How to be Both by Ali Smith, The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon, The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber, The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende, and More Than This by Patrick Ness.
When I’m not reading or writing, I’m usually studying foreign languages or watching inordinate amounts of TV. Other stuff I like includes: cats, tea, Duolingo, Eurovision, Céline Dion, taiyaki, postcards, Catalan pop music, sudoku, arepas, cheese.
ABOUT LAST BUS TO EVERLAND
Brody Fair feels like nobody gets him: not his overworked parents, not his genius older brother, and definitely not the girls in the projects set on making his life miserable. Then he meets Nico, an art student who takes Brody to Everland, a “knock-off Narnia” that opens its door at 11:21pm each Thursday for Nico and his band of present-day misfits and miscreants.
Here Brody finds his tribe and a weekly respite from a world where he feels out of place. But when the doors to Everland begin to disappear, Brody is forced to make a decision: He can say goodbye to Everland and to Nico, or stay there and risk never seeing his family again.
Hi Sophie! What was your journey to publication for Out of the Blue like? Was it tougher or easier than you anticipated?
I was actually extremely lucky on my road to publication. I entered a SCBWI competition and was one of twelve authors featured in their Undiscovered Voices anthology, which is sent to agents and editors every two years. My agent contacted me through that, so I’ve never had to query, and Out of the Blue was my first book to go on submission. I’ve had quite a few publishing setbacks since then though, so it hasn’t all been plain sailing!
Wow, that sounds great! Not the setbacks, obviously, haha! As a queer author yourself, what is the importance to you for having queer representation?
I didn’t see many queer people in media when I was younger and I think it negatively affected the way I viewed LGBTQ+ lives and relationships, and also the way I saw myself. My books are my own small contribution to counteracting that and hopefully making things a little better for young readers nowadays. There’s still a long way to go, especially where intersectionality is concerned, but I love that we’re now in a place where we can have characters who are incidentally gay or bi or trans or any other identity without it being the sole focus of the story.
Yes, so true!! And speaking of representation, Last Bus to Everland includes a diverse set of characters of all different ethnicities. Is this important to you? Why?
Definitely – Everland can be accessed from multiple portals all over the planet, so it made sense to include characters from all around the globe. More generally, I think it’s important that literature is inclusive and shows the world as it is, with characters from a variety of backgrounds.
Absolutely! Who are some of your favourite queer characters of all time?
The ones that first come to mind from YA are Teeth from Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz and Michael from The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta – both great books. I also love Lucy Diamond, the lesbian international supervillain from the film D.E.B.S.
Did you always want to be a writer when you were young or could your career have gone a completely different way?
I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was about six, so it’s always been top of my list. I studied French and Comparative Literature and would also have liked to be a literary translator. (I translate sales and business copy in my day job, so I guess that’s sort of close?!)
Nico and Brody are two lovely and complex characters, but ultimately quite different. Do you find capturing a narrative voice in a novel difficult or easy?
I don’t usually have too much problem capturing a narrative voice. That’s probably one of the aspects of writing that comes more easily to me, though recently I’ve been working on a dual-narrative novel and differentiating between the two MCs is definitely quite tricky. It’s given me a lot of admiration for authors who can write from multiple perspectives.
There are many LGBTQ books coming out this year – what ones are you most excited for?
Tough question as there are so many, but I think The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar is top of my list. I’ve also been hearing great things about You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson.
Yes! Two great books! What’s one of the accomplishments of your career that you’re most proud of?
Honestly, I’m probably still most proud of actually finishing my books! I wrote for years and years before actually managing to stick to something and finish it. That’s still the biggest challenge for me now – I have too many ideas and it’s so tempting to let myself get carried away by new, shiny projects.
I’m sure there are many aspiring authors reading this – what’s your best piece of advice you can give them?
I went to a writing workshop with Juno Dawson around 5 years ago, before I was published, and she advised us to think of ourselves as writers: not “aspiring writers” or anything like that, but writers. That really stuck with me, as it’s what made me take my writing much more seriously and helped me finally complete my first manuscript.
That’s great advice! And finally, what do you have planned next? Are you working on anything for the future?
I had twins a couple of months ago so right now I’m mostly juggling two newborns and trying to find time to sleep! But I’m also working on a couple of new YA novels that I’m very excited about. I really hope I’ll be able to share them with readers sometime soon!
Thank you so much for being part of #LGBTQMonth, Sophie! We were delighted to have you and look forward to what you release next!
Last Bus to Everland was published last year and I urge you all to go order it—from your local indie bookstore if they have it, or anywhere else you can!