Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Author Spotlight: Interview with Sophia Bennett

Today I have one of my favourite authors here at To Another World! I've loved Sophia since I got a free copy of Threads in a magazine when I was eight, and the only book I haven't read so far is The Look, but I really want to... Enjoy! 

Hi Sophia, welcome to To Another World! Can you tell us about you and your books?

Hi Charli. I've wanted to be a writer since I was about seven, and after years of trying to get published I finally managed it in 2009, when I won the Times/Chicken House competition with Threads. Since then, I've published two other books in the Threads series, as well as The Look and You Don't Know Me. I write Young Adult books for girls, set in the contemporary world and dealing with contemporary challenges, like media exploitation and cyber-bullying. But there's a lot of glamour and friendship in my books too. I like to think that my girls rock.

In Threads, your trilogy, each character has a different personality. Are any of them based on yourself?

Nonie, the narrator, shares my secret desire to be a fashion designer and Jenny shares my love of the theatre. But the one who's most like me is good-girl Edie. I was always the geeky girl at school, busy doing clubs and trying to get into a good university. I also wanted - and still want - to change the world, like Edie does. Oh, and I often inadvertently say something rude when I'm trying to be kind. Edie does that all the time and she totally gets that from me. Crow, on the other hand, is a child genius and I make no claims in that direction! She's based more on an Olympic gymnast I admired when I was growing up, called Olga Korbett.

Have you always wanted to be an author?

Yep. Pretty much. I've had other ideas, such as air hostess, playwright and, recently, bass player for a funk band - but writing novels was always my first love. I had a whole lot of other jobs before I finally got to do it though.

Do you have any writing habits? Like a place or things you do?

I drink gazoodles of tea and coffee while I write, and probably eat too many biscuits or, if they're available, Twirls. My favourite places to do it are: in my shed (see the pictures on my website), in bed (cosy when it's wet), at the dining table (if my husband isn't practising his guitar) and in local cafes. The best time for me to write is in the middle of the night, when the house is perfectly quiet. This doesn't make for a very bouncy Sophia the next day, though.

Within Threads and it's sequels, you write about some issues, involving Crow and her family. Why did you decide to write about these?

Crow is a refugee from Uganda, and her family is affected by the Lords Resistance Army, who kidnap children and turn them into child soldiers. (They're doing it in the Congo now.) I was inspired to write about them by a poster I saw on the London Underground, talking about the Night Walkers and sponsored by the Invisible Children campaign.

I didn't originally intend to write about these issues. Threads started off as purely a fashion book. But it made me so angry to think that these children were suffering and not enough was being done to help them, so I decided to incorporate their story into mine. I'm usually inspired to write by things I love and, I've discovered, by things that make me furious.

I was very proud when money from the sale of Threads went to Save the Children, to help their work in Africa to support victims of the LRA. It always helps when you feel that you can do something, however small.

If you were on a desert island, what 3 items would you take with you? (And it can't be anything that will help you off, because I know you creative types!)

My younger son's teddy bear, which has a voice recording in its paw of the other three children telling him they love him.

A notebook and pen. Gotta write...

My bass guitar. Gotta practise...

Quickfire Questions!

Favourite animal? Tortoiseshell cat (but it varies)

Favourite colour? Schiaparelli pink

Favourite book? Flowers for Mrs Harris, by Paul Gallico. (Twiggy's about to star in a remake of the film. Woo!) Also, Thank You Jeeves by PG Wodehouse and Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L Sayers.

This or That!

Writing or reading? Hmmmmmmmmm. Writing.
Chocolate or sweets? Chocolate.
Paperback or hardback? Paperback.

Thank you so much for this interview, Sophia!

Thank you, Charli! It was such a pleasure. xxx

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