Interview with S.C. Ransom, author of
“Small Blue Thing”
A little while ago I reviewed S.C. Ransom’s debut novel, “Small Blue Thing” and she was kind enough to answer a few questions I had about her writing process, what inspired “Small Blue Thing” and what she is working on next. Read on, and if you have any questions for S.C. Ransom, write them in the comments!
Can you tell us a little about Small Blue Thing?
Small Blue Thing is a romance for teenagers. The story involves Alex, an ordinary girl, a strange bracelet which she finds in the mud at the edge of the River Thames in London, and Callum, a soul caught in a terrible half-life who she can speak to when she’s wearing the bracelet. She soon realises that she loves Callum, but she’s not sure if he truly loves her or wants to use her to escape from his life of misery. Very soon she’s fighting for her life.
Some writers have daily routines they stick to when working on a project. What is a day in your writing life like?
I have another full time job as a headhunter, so my writing is done every day on the train into London and back, and then catching up at weekends.
What was the most difficult part of the writing process for Small Blue Thing? What about the easiest?
Finding the time is always a challenge! What was also difficult at first was accepting the suggested changes to my manuscripts, but I’ve got used to that now. The ideas come quite easily to me, and I find it quite straightforward to weave new threads into the stories and tie them up later. My husband is great at coming up with new twists for me too.
Since this book was written as a birthday present for your daughter, Ellie, did you ever fear that she could either be your harshest critic (as most teenagers are) or greatest supporter when she read Small Blue Thing for the first time?
I knew she would like it, as the original version was so personal to her, but I was nervous when she started lending it to her friends. They have all been brilliant though, and their support helped persuade me to see if I could get it published.
Has your son ever asked you to write a book for his birthday? And if so, what kind of story would you write to appeal to his literary tastes?
No! I think I’ve missed the opportunity to write one for him now. He’s nearly sixteen, and enjoys a lot of crime thrillers, and I’m not sure that’s my thing. I think that the next one I do will be directed at both boys and girls though, so I’m sure he’ll read it.
The Dirges are interesting characters, ones that steal happy memories from mortal humans in order to function “normally.” Was there a particular inspiration that sparked the concept of the Dirges?
I wanted a group which was sinister and dangerous, but I was bored with vampires and werewolves and the like. I couldn’t think of anything I knew which fitted the criteria I needed, so I made them up! That way I didn’t have to follow any expected rules or behaviour, either. I could make them do whatever I wanted, which is great fun.
Why did you choose a silver and blue bracelet as the “conduit” between Alex and Callum?
Ellie loves blue, so it would appeal to her. I have a silver bracelet with a small blue opal, so I had that in my mind but made it much, much bigger and ornate, the sort of thing you would just love to find in the mud.
If Small Blue Thing were made into a feature film, who would you choose to play Callum and Alex? Why?
Lots of people have asked this! Ellie would like to play Alex herself, and her top choice for Callum would be Alex Pettyfer, as she thinks he’s one of the most gorgeous men on the planet. I rather like the idea of Ben Barnes.
What subjects would you like to see more of in today’s Young Adult fiction market?
That’s a very good question, and I’m not sure I can answer! I read very little YA fiction before I started writing Small Blue Thing, and I’ve been working so hard on writing the rest of the trilogy that I haven’t had a lot of time to read. I have a huge pile of books that I’m really looking forward to diving into later this year.
Can you tell us about some of your favorite books and authors?
Before I started writing I used to read a lot on my daily commute, and I read a huge selection of things; thrillers, crime, romance, classics, science fiction – you name it, I read it. One of my recent favourites was The Time Traveller’s Wife, and I read every Harry Potter book as it came out. I do like the Twilight series too.
Do you have any interesting stories about the writing of this book that you would like to share?
When I decided to write Ellie a book, I knew I needed to find a decent amount of time to get it done properly. So instead of reading on the train every day I started to write. Small Blue Thing was mostly written on my BlackBerry, and at the end of every journey I emailed it to myself. At the weekend I took the patchwork of files and tied them all together into a story. So when people tell me that they would love to do something like this but they are too busy, I tell them to look at their day. I found an hour – just 30 minutes each way – and now I have a book on the shelves of lots of the bookshops in the UK.
Did you listen to music a lot while working on this project, and if so, what kind of soundtrack would Small Blue Thing have?
The title of the book is from the Suzanne Vega song of the same name, which is one of my favourites, so that would have to be the title music. Unfortunately I find I can’t concentrate on writing if I have music playing, so I write in silence. I can even get distracted if people on the train are talking, but luckily most British commuter trains are very quiet places.
Do you have plans to write in a genre other than paranormal fantasy/romance in the future?
I’d like to try writing something which was appealing to both boys and girls, but I’m not sure how good I would be at it. I guess I’ll just have to try!
Can you tell us a little about your other writing projects and what you are working on right now?
Right now I’m writing the final book in the Small Blue Thing trilogy, Scattering Like Light. I’m really looking forward to tying up all those loose ends.
Is there anything you would like to say to your fans and potential readers?
Thank you so much for reading my book! I feel immensely privileged that you want to explore the world which I’ve created, and I look forward sharing more secrets with you as the story unfolds.
Special thanks goes to Sue Ransom and the entire team at Nosy Crow!
“Small Blue Thing” can be purchased via Amazon.co.uk as it is not currently available in the U.S.
Photos Courtesy of Nosy Crow
Interview with Lisa Reece-Lane
Author of “Milk Fever”.
—Tell us a little about Milk Fever…
I must confess that the best descriptions I’ve read for Milk Fever so far have been written by other people. But here goes:
Milk Fever is a story about all of us and how we interact with each other, how we process the wounds of our past through our current relationships. And ultimately, how we are all flawed and precious. It explores the lives of two characters, Julia an accomplished ballet dancer turned house wife attempting to adjust to live in the dismal country town of Lovely, with her infuriatingly optimistic husband who has started up a yoga school. And Tom, a handsome, yet deeply disturbed dairy farmer. When Julia’s husband, Bryant sets out to cure Tom of his migraines and memory lapses, their worlds and lives are changed forever.
—What inspired you to write Milk Fever?
It started life is a short story. The idea for someone burying their mother in the night and her showing up at breakfast the next morning just came to me one day out of the blue. Julia came later and perhaps was a way of working through the challenges I was having in my marriage at the time.
—What was the hardest part of writing this book for you?
Trusting myself. I was lucky enough to work with some amazing people, who gave insights and helpful advice. But with the help came a period of confusion and I lost sight of the overall picture of what I was trying to express. I had to put Milk Fever aside for a couple of months (I wrote a kid’s book in the meantime so I could keep the brain in working order) and rediscover what I wanted the book to be about. More than once, I considered giving up on it. I think writers are sensitive people, so we easily doubt ourselves. What I learned from the whole process was that it’s good to take on advice from others, mull it over, see what fits, but in the end assimilate that knowledge while keeping true to your own inner voice.
—Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
When I was a young girl I used to write horse books; heaps of them. But I put that aside as my passion for music grew. After I quit music, I discovered a creative hole inside me, which writing filled up very nicely.
—What is your typical day of writing like? Do you use the same set of “tools” everyday or does it vary depending on mood? (i.e. computer, listening to music, writing with quill and ink…)
Good question. I think it’s an excellent idea to have rituals for creativity. Coffee is my brain stimulator of choice. I love making the perfect cup with my espresso machine and then I take it into a little shed at the back of my house and stare out of the window until I feel the words begging to be written. I very much like the idea of quill and ink though. I think that poetry begs for ink, rather than a keyboard, but the poets would be a better judge of that.
—Who are your main literary influences? I already know you like Jane Austen… 🙂
I adore Jane Austen, you’re right!! I love her restraint, I love her bantering prose, I love Jane full stop. But there are so many writers. I love Tim Winton, and Sonya Hartnett, I think Markus Zusac is a master. I’m a huge fan of Rose Tremain and Belinda Haynes. The common link? They all are such individuals. Not a cliche in sight. I aspire to be a quarter as good as any of these.
—What do you hope your readers will take away from Milk Fever?
I hope readers will feel uplifted. Especially those that beat up on themselves. I hope readers will realise how precious they are. We are all of us flawed, we’re all making mistakes, we’re stuffing up, and yet we are beautiful beyond measure. If a reader likes themselves a little better after reading my book, I will be content.
—Are any personal experiences hidden in this book?
Ah, yes. Here are the personal experiences: I moved to the country, but unlike Julia I made sure that the town I went to had some decent cafes in it! I love coffee. My marriage went crash. I trained as a yoga teacher (before Pilates) and finally, I can hear that this world is all music
—If you could cast the film version, who would you cast in the lead roles and why?
Oh, what a delicious question. Can I have anyone? Right, male lead would have to be Ioan Gruffudd, simply because I have the most ridiculous crush on that man (it doesn’t really matter that he doesn’t quite fit any of the character roles). Female lead, Cate Blanchet, because she can do ballet and is a stunning actress. And of course, me: I will give myself a walk on part, whenever Ioan is on screen, just so that I can stare at him.
—What do you think is the most important part of the writing process that novice writers don’t know about?
The balancing acts: trusting your own voice and yet be willing to take on advice; having a thick skin to deal with the rejections, and yet retaining enough sensitivity to be open to the world; having confidence, and also humility; being an introvert so you can create in solitude and an the extrovert necessary to promote what you’ve written. And finally, having restraint and also wild abandon and knowing what the writing calls for in each moment.
—Any plans on a sequel to Milk Fever?
Not just yet, but maybe one day…
—What is your next project?
I’ve written my next novel and am in the process – long process, I might add – of editing.
—How can your fans find you on the web? Twitter, Myspace, Facebook, etc.
Ooh, I like the idea of fans. If there are any out there they can drop me a line through my website:
Or leave a comment on the blog at: http://milkfever.wordpress.com
–Anything you’d like to say to your fans?
I loved writing Milk Fever, although there were a few tears of frustration shed, and I enjoy feedback, so let me know what you think. I hope to meet you one day. :-))
Shylock Books wishes to thank Lisa Reece-Lane for her candid interview.
Please visit her on the web at :
Her Publisher: Murdoch Books