Five Minutes with A.J. Grainger
Published on: 30 January 2015
A. J. Grainger on her debut novel Captive, what she learned in the process of writing and publishing her first book, and what to read if you enjoyed Captive.
Captive is a really gripping read and a moving exploration of identity, celebrity, loyalty, politics and power. Did you have a reader in mind while you were writing the story?
Me and my friends as teenagers probably, with a little bit of me as an adult. I have always loved books that are both gripping but also ask you questions and make you think, and I tried to do that with Captive.
On your website you mention how much you adore books. How did books and reading come to be so important in your life?
That is a great question, but a hard one to answer because I'm not sure I know! I have just always loved stories - not only those found in books but also in films, plays, ballets. I like the way stories take you out of your own experience and show you someone else's. With books, I just find the whole experience more immersive. Apparently, reading a book is a form of hypnosis - you are so lost in what you are doing that you aren't aware of the world around you. That seems pretty magical to me.
Captive is your debut novel -what have you learned in the process of writing and publishing your first book?
So many things! My top lessons are probably that the right agent and publisher are essential. Mine (Jane Finigan at Lutyens and Rubinstein and Simon & Schuster) are brilliant. You need people who believe in your book and get what you are trying to do with your writing because being an author can be hard. By publishing a book, you are putting a part of yourself out there for the world to criticise and so it is wonderful to have a team of people behind you.
I have also learnt what a supportive community there is within children's and YA publishing - writers, editors, bloggers, publicists etc. have all been great at offering advice and guidance on anything from writing blog posts, to organizing launches and doing school events. I thought I knew this from my day job as a children's books editor, but it's really been brought home to me as I made the shift from editor to author. It has meant a lot how supportive everyone has been.
If teens enjoyed reading your book, what would you recommend for them to read next?
Stolen by Lucy Christopher or anything by Sophie McKenzie and Ally Carter. Malorie Blackman's Noughts and Crosses. Also Maggie Hall's The Conspiracy of Us, it is about a girl who discovers that her family is at the centre of a powerful, secret society. I think the concept would appeal to any fans of my book.
Check out A. J.'s book
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