This is my interview with Dear Dylan author, the amazing Siobhan Curham! In this interview Siobhan gives loads of great advice for continuing our dreams of becoming authors and never giving up. Along with this a sneak-peak of her next books, Finding Cherokee Brown & Shipwrecked both to be next year too!
What/Who inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always been a real book-lover and when I was a child I used to dream that one day I’d be able to write a book of my own. It was such a thrill when, all those years later, that dream finally came true – and it’s a good example of how you should NEVER give up on your dreams. When I was a teenager I briefly gave up on my writing dreams because lack of confidence made me feel that I wasn’t good enough. But I guess if you want something badly enough it never goes away and in the end I wanted to write so bad I just had to do it!
What was your favourite book as a child?
I had loads, but if I had to pick one then I think it would be The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe because the world of Narnia was so vivid and I felt so emotionally attached to the characters.
Have you ever used your personal experiences while writing? If so why?
I draw upon my personal experiences a lot – I actually find it really therapeutic. Often, if I write about an issue that’s affected me, it helps me to find answers or to feel better about it. Also, if I feel I’ve learnt something valuable from something I’ve been through, I like inventing characters and situations that will help me pass this lesson on to the reader. To give you an example (without giving away the plot) writing Dear Dylan was my way of showing the reader that your dreams are a vital part of your identity and, no matter what obstacles you’re confronted with, you should never give up on them, because that would be giving up on yourself.
Very loosely. It’s usually more a single detail that might inspire me and then I go and build a fictional character around that. In Dear Dylan the main character was loosely inspired by a girl who came to a drama workshop I was running. She’d been through loads in her life and yet she was still so full of fun and positivity. So I took that energy and created Georgie around it.
Dear Dylan was your first book for Young Adults. For people who don't know can you tell us a bit about the story?
Yes, it’s basically the story of a teenage girl who is unhappy in her home life and starts sending fan emails to her favourite TV actor. As things get more stressful at home, she starts pouring her heart out into the emails, and then to her delight, Dylan replies. There is also a massive twist in the tale, but you’ll have to read the book to find out more hahaha. . .
Georgie Harris(the main character) has a lot in common with your everyday teenager: feeling like she has no one to talk to and struggling with a bully of a step-dad. Do you think your readers can connect with Georgie better because of this?
I really hope so. I know not everyone has a bullying stepdad, but I think most teenagers go through periods of frustration, feeling that no-one really listens to them or gets what they’re about or what they’re trying to say. I definitely remember feeling that way!
Dear Dylan was written all in email-format, was it a challenge to do this and how?
In some ways the email format was really good fun. I felt I could just let go and get into the voices of the two characters and that was a really enjoyable experience. But I did get really stuck once the characters decided to meet up. How could I let the readers know what happened when they met, just through their emails? If you think about it, when you meet up with someone, you don’t then rush home and email them every little detail of what just happened – they were there too – they’d think you were nuts! I seriously considered changing the format at that point, but I’m really glad I didn’t. I hope I found a way around it that worked!
If you could choose any book to have been the author of, what would it be?
Well, I’m in awe of Anne Frank and the beauty of her writing, despite everything she was going through. Although I obviously wouldn’t want to have endured what she did, I think that the impact her diary has had on the world is an incredible achievement. And what she wrote about life and hope is so inspirational.
If you could live the life of one of the characters you have created for a day, who would it be?
What a fun question! I think it would be Cherokee, from my next novel, Finding Cherokee Brown, as she ends up going on quite an exciting adventure that involves a road-trip to Paris…
Who is the most famous person you have met?
I used to go out with an actor so I met quite a few famous people through him. I suppose the most famous of those was the actor Ralph Fiennes – who I met for about two seconds when we walked past each other back-stage!
What is your favourite book now?
I recently read the YA novel, The Fault in Our Stars and I LOVED it! The characters are so funny and interesting and it was a real emotional roller coaster – I love a novel that can make you laugh and cry, I really feel like I’ve got my money’s worth ;)
Have you got any advice for young girls who want to become writers?
Yes, LOADS!! I love encouraging young people to write because I know how easy it can be to lose your confidence. So, I would say that you should write about things you feel passionately about. Write from the heart, don’t write what you think you ought to write, write what you truly want to write. The reader will feel the passion in your words. Also, don’t think that you have nothing interesting to say – of course you do – you are unique and you have your own unique take on life, whatever your background. I have a blog called Dear Writer (www.dearwriterblog.blogspot.com) where I have regular writing tips, prompts and competitions, so please pay it a visit…
Have you got any plans for another YA novel? If so are there any secrets you can tell us about it?
I’m actually lucky enough to have two new YA novels coming out next year. The first one, Finding Cherokee Brown, is out in March, and it’s about a teenage girl who (inspired by Anne Frank) decides to start writing a book about her life. She hopes that by doing so it will force her to become the kind of heroine she likes reading about and give her the courage to stand up to the bullies in her school. As I mentioned before, it ends up sending her on an incredible adventure to Paris.
The second one is out in June and it’s called Shipwrecked. It’s about a group of American dance students who get shipwrecked on a spooky island and hopefully it’s being made into a TV series too, which is massively exciting! So, to any aspiring writers reading this – don’t ever give up on your dream, you never know where it might end up taking you…
Pen & Paper or Laptop? Laptop
Fiction or Non Fiction? Fiction
Hardback or Paperback? Paperback
Female or Male lead? Female
Futuristic or Present? Present
A massive thank you to Siobhan Curham for both answering my questions and giving such inspiring advice about never giving up on your dreams! Good luck with Finding Cherokee Brown and Shipwrecked, I know I will be the first in line to buy them.