A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

Book Birthday Interview: Lauren James interviews Catherine Doyle about INFERNO

25022128Romeo and Juliet meets The Godfather in the second installment of Catherine Doyle’s Blood for Blood series.

Sophie’s life has been turned upside-down, and she’s determined to set things right. But Nic, the Falcone brother who represents everything she’s trying to forget, won’t give up on their love – and it’s Luca’s knife she clutches for comfort. Soon another mafia clan spoils the fragile peace – and with her heart drawn in one direction and her blood in another, Sophie’s in deeper than ever.



Happy book birthday, Cat! Can you summarise INFERNO in three words?

INFERNO is thrilling, romantic and dangerous!

As VENDETTA is inspired by Romeo & Juliet, is INFERNO inspired by anything in particular?

INFERNO is a departure from the Romeo & Juliet undertone. If anything, it takes the theme, examines it, exposes some fundamental flaws and then turns it on its head.

Do you think the family or friendship relationships in INFERNO are more important?

I always say that INFERNO is as much about friendship as it is about love, and I made sure to write a supportive, empathetic and fun friendship for Sophie and Millie, so that whatever Sophie goes through, she won’t have to do it alone. I think there’s no greater love story than that of a girl and her best friend and I really wanted to portray that in INFERNO. Of course, family also plays an important role. I think it probably comes down to loyalty. Whether we’re talking about family or friendship, the theme of loyalty is a strong one throughout.

Which character do you enjoy writing the most?

I love love love writing Felice. He is so unhinged, and I can make him say and do virtually anything. I love weird people. I also adore Millie for the sheer fact that her rants are so extreme that I don’t have to use any punctuation for at least two paragraphs at a time. I bet my copy-editor loves that.

Are any scenes in INFERNO inspired by real life?

I, too, have had many shady dealings with mobsters in my day… Just kidding. Nervous laughter.

The infamous “Doughnut Scene” was inspired by a particular chain of events in my life. I spend my summers in the U.S., and two years ago when I was there, I discovered my undying love for Dunkin’ Doughnuts, especially the sprinkled, glazed doughnut. But alas, like many delicious things in life, it also made me very ill. So I went through about eight weeks of eating doughnuts-being ill-swearing never to eat another doughnut-lying to myself-caving in-eating doughnuts… and so on. When I was writing INFERNO, I thought it might be fun to base an entire scene around a doughnut, and make the doughnut itself a point of romance. Oddly enough, it worked.

The scene has become a throwback to the real doomed romance in my life – that of a simple girl and her sprinkled doughnut.

INFERNO gets quite gruesome at times . . .  are there anything topics you would feel uncomfortable writing about in a YA book, or do you think teenagers can handle anything?

If it’s dealt with sensitively and realistically, I think teenagers can handle anything.

Is writing a sequel different to writing the first book? After the Blood for Blood series, are you planning to write another series or a standalone – and why?

Writing a sequel is different because you know that someone is going to read it and have expectations about it. After Vendetta came out, I was the lucky recipient of quite a few reader emails threatening me if I didn’t make certain characters hook up or certain events happen. On the whole, I enjoyed them.

So, the pressure is greater, but the writing (I think) is much more fun. You already have introduced most of your characters, so you can take them to greater heights, and concentrate on making the plot bigger and better. After Blood for Blood, I think I’d like to do another trilogy, but in a slightly different genre, where I don’t have to kill anyone! That can be very exhausting.

 As it’s January, what were your favourite YA books of 2015?

Oh LORD. I hate answering this because I always, always forget books but off the top of my head, I’m going to go with: Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (I would read her shopping lists, she’s so good), The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh (this book, seriously, THIS BOOK), The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury, Asking for It by Louise O’Neill, The Next Together by Lauren James (and its sequel which I’ve already read mwahahaha), The One Thing by Marci Curtis (sarcasm is so on-point in this one), and Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stievfater. I could go on, but I assume there’s some word limit on this, so I won’t…

What’s your favourite quote from the book?

I like a lot of the conversations between Luca and Sophie because they just tease each other mercilessly. Like this one:

‘You should come off that pedestal every now and then.’

Luca grimaced. ‘But I like my pedestal. I can see everything from up here.’

                ‘I bet the view’s even nicer from your ivory tower.’

‘It is,’ he said, solemnly. ‘I’d invite you up some time but it’s only for really intelligent people who have a great sense of humour.’

                ‘Then you must be squatting.’

I also enjoy this one (Sophie’s quote) for which I will provide absolutely no context:

‘I’d rather take a dolphin to the face.’

Was there anything you had to google when researching INFERNO that you would be worried if someone found in your browser history?

I live in constant fear of people discovering my browsing history. CONSTANT FEAR.

So, this time around, just the usual things like: popular American handguns, gas explosions, post-traumatic stress disorder, Graceland cemeteries, fancy mausoleums, Mafia power structures, authentic prison slang, and then of course, all the curse words known to man (in Italian).

How much do you know already about Book 3………and is there anything you can tell us? (PLEASE.)

I can tell you that a lot of people are going to meet their demise in Book 3. A LOT. OF. PEOPLE.



Catherine Doyle is a 24-year-old writer from the West of Ireland. She holds a BA in Psychology and an MA in English. As a child she was an annoying smarty-pants with an overactive imagination. She feels lucky to have now found a healthy outlet for her tendency to make up stories. Her debut YA novel, VENDETTA, is the first in a trilogy. Inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo & Julietand classic mafia culture, the novel takes place in modern-day Chicago, where Catherine’s mother grew up and was published by Chicken House in January 2015.

“This is a perfect read for somebody looking for a great YA contemp with swoony, sexy (dangerous, mysterious) romance and a dark, gritty twist.” — Maggie Hall, author of The Conspiracy of Us for Vendetta


LaurenJames forblog-3

Lauren James is 23, and graduated in 2014 from the University of Nottingham with a Master’s degree in Natural Sciences, where she studied Chemistry and Physics.
Her first novel The Next Together, a YA reincarnation romance, is out now with Walker Books in the UK and Australia, and will also be published in the USA, Germany, Turkey and Brazil. The Last Beginning will be published in Autumn 2016. You can find her on Twitter at @Lauren_E_James or Tumblr at


“Funny, romantic and compulsively readable” – The Bookseller for The Next Together

About Lauren James

Lauren James is the Carnegie-longlisted British author of many Young Adult novels, including Green Rising, The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker and The Loneliest Girl in the Universe. She is a RLF Royal Fellow, freelance editor and screenwriter. Lauren is the founder of the Climate Fiction Writers League, and on the board of the Authors & Illustrators Sustainability Working Group through the Society of Authors. Her books have sold over a hundred thousand copies worldwide and been translated into six languages. The Quiet at the End of the World was shortlisted for the YA Book Prize and STEAM Children’s Book Award. Her other novels include The Next Together series, the dyslexia-friendly novella series The Watchmaker and the Duke and serialised online novel An Unauthorised Fan Treatise. She was born in 1992, and has a Masters degree from the University of Nottingham, where she studied Chemistry and Physics. Lauren is a passionate advocate of STEM further education, and many of her books feature female scientists in prominent roles. She sold the rights to her first novel when she was 21, whilst she was still at university. Her writing has been described as ‘gripping romantic sci-fi’ by the Wall Street Journal and ‘a strange, witty, compulsively unpredictable read which blows most of its new YA-suspense brethren out of the water’ by Entertainment Weekly. Lauren lives in the West Midlands and is an Arts Council grant recipient. She has written articles for numerous publications, including the Guardian, Buzzfeed, Den of Geek, The Toast, and the Children’s Writers and Artist’s Yearbook 2022. She has taught creative writing for Coventry University, WriteMentor, and Writing West Midlands.


This entry was posted on January 7, 2016 by and tagged .

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3,314 other subscribers

Blog Stats

  • 202,704 hits
%d bloggers like this: