Lisa Drakeford, the YA books that inspired her, and her new book, The Baby
Published on: 01 July 2015
We chat to Lisa Drakeford about her new book, The Baby (one of our favourites in July), inspiring YA fiction, what she's reading now and what she's working on.
First of all, can you tell us a little bit about your new book, The Baby?
The Baby is about the birth of a baby girl at a 17th birthday party. Nobody expected this baby - least of all the mother. Nicola's not ready to be a mum and she needs her friends' help. The story is about the impact this baby has on the five friends who witness her arrival. They each have stories of their own and a chapter to themselves. Between them they move the story along.
We hear you were inspired by the books on your library's YA shelves when you worked as a library assistant - which books won you over?
Two books in particular inspired me. Coincidentally they arrived together. I worked in a library. I unpacked them to put on the shelves but very quickly decided I should have a sneak preview first. They were Dan Tunstall's Big & Clever and Lucy Christopher's Stolen. (Even more coincidentally they were both to be shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award for that year.)
They are both realistic, gritty novels which stay with you well after the book is finished. Dan's writing is seedy and real, and Lucy Christopher somehow makes you want things to happen in the book which you know are against your better judgement. Both get under your skin in an awkward manner. I love books like this and they inspired me to write a novel of my own.
What books are you reading right now?
I'm reading The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson, another YA novel from a debut author. I like how Lisa is holding out on me. I know secrets are about to rear up and smack me in the nose - I'm just waiting for them. The suspense is wonderful. And I've just finished We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. Another book with a twist which blew me away. I had to re-read the page four times before I believed what I was seeing.
Are you working on anything new at the moment?
I'm currently lurching between writing a sequel to The Baby and something completely different about a car which crashes into a house and the ensuing relationships which develop between the people in the car and the people in the house. Like The Baby it's from several points of view where each character has their own story to bring to the table.
I seem a bit obsessed with this. I'm fascinated by the idea that what's going on in one life can have an effect on what happens in another. My sequel to The Baby is a joy to write. At the end of the story I deliberately left each character with a lot more to give. There are more stories to tell and a whole academic year to go before Olivia and Ben leave for university. The relationships between each character seem to twist and twirl some more, but isn't that just life?
If people enjoyed reading The Baby what other books would you recommend to them?
If people enjoy issues of teen pregnancy then they can't go wrong with Non Pratt's Trouble. For a twist then have a go at Meg Rosoff's What I Was. For a right good American university page turner of a story with one of my favourite female leads, then Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell has to be an option. And finally, in my opinion anything by Melvin Burgess or Kevin Brooks will be real, contemporary and hugely readable.
Check out Lisa's book
Imagination and Empathy
Read Librarian Sean Edwards' recommended books to open up the world of imagination and empathy for everyone.