Much like Batman, Bruce Wayne and, controversially, Ben Affleck, Lucy Christopher lives an exciting double life. By day she teaches creative writing and by night she
fights crime is the author of the amazing young adult novel The Killing Woods.
We spoke to Lucy about her double life, her inspirations and favourite books, and she also gave us plenty of interesting writing tips!
What does a day in the life of a creative writing teacher look like?
I don't think any one day ever looks the same. The fact that I am a creative writing academic means that I have two halves to my job - I have the side that produces creative pieces of fiction (such as my novels), and I have the side that teaches creative writing and thinks critically about writing. I think that these 'sides' fit wonderfully well together to create a balanced job: the creative side to let me dance in the clouds of imagination; the critical side to keep me balanced in the real world of what I do.
To give you an idea of a typical week for me: I would probably teach a class or two on the Bath Spa MA in Writing for Young People, then, as part of this job, I would also meet with a student or two to give feedback and individual tutorial on their creative writing manuscripts, I would also spend a day or two on my own creative work and publicity.
What first inspired you to write?
The very first thing I can remember writing was a poem when I was 6 or 7 years old. It went like this:
You feel a tingle in your arm.
Your leg hurts.
And when your people come back
you are gone.
It was inspired by the death of my Great Aunt: my first experience of dying, something that touched me emotionally.
That aside, I think it was a wonderful English teacher I had in High School who really made me believe that I could write creatively. It was under her encouragement that I became the editor of my school magazine and entered my first creative writing competitions.
What's the single best piece of creative writing advice you've ever received?
It was something I heard David Almond say once: "Be Brave". Apparently, he has these words written on a post-it note that he has taped to the side of his computer screen: to remind him that writing is an act of faith, and to encourage him to get to the other side.
After you'd had the initial idea for Stolen, what were your next steps and how did you go about plotting the book's structure?
My next step was to think of the ending - where was this book going to end up, what was the main character going to learn? Once I knew this, then I had to work out the various plot points / learning points, or 'building blocks', that my character needed to jump on to get her to that end point.
What was your favourite book as a teenager?
It was, undoubtedly, the brilliant Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden. I fell in love with this book's gutsy heroine, Ellie, and the emotional and real relationships she formed with the teenagers around her. Most of all, it was this book that inspired me to love the Australian land that I had moved to as a child.
Read a book by Lucy Christopher: The Killing Woods is published on 3 October by Chicken House, priced £7.99. For updates and special competitions visit: www.thekillingwoods.tumblr.com
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