A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
I’m so excited to welcome Bryony over to the blog to talk about her new book – Savage Island. Here’s the blurb –
When reclusive millionaire Marcus Gold announces that he’s going to be staging an “Iron Teen” competition on his private island in the Outer Hebrides, teenagers Ben, Lizzie, Will, Grady and Carmen sign up – the prize is one million pounds … each. But when the competition begins, the group begin to regret their decision. Other teams are hunting their competitors and attacking them for body parts. Can the friends stick together under such extreme pressure to survive? When lives are at stake, you find out who you can really trust…
Hi Bryony and thanks very much for talking to me about your new book ‘Savage Island’. It was a real edge of your seat, thriller of a read and although it comes in at just over 400 pages, it absolutely flew by!
There are so many questions I could ask you, but I’m going to be very careful so as not to give away any spoilers!
First up, can you give us your elevator pitch for it?
This is Lord of the Flies meets The Apprentice, mixed in with a bit of Love Island (not that I’ve seen Love Island, but I imagine it to be pretty dog-eat-dog, but with kissing)!
It really is a fantastic idea. Where did the idea come from? Did it just walk into your head fully formed or did it take a bit more developing?
It actually emerged from a conversation I had with my father in law. He was telling me all about geocaching, and as he was talking I thought ‘what if you opened a geocaching box and in it you found a finger’. The whole thing built from there.
You know yourself what it’s like to live with a writer’s brain – talk about thoughts that come from left field!
But it’s a good example of building a story using ‘what if’ and ‘why’?
Why would anyone continue with the course?
What was in the other boxes?
What if it was something worse?
What if there are other people competing with them?
Soon a whole novel built up.
The main setting is a fictional island in the Outer Hebrides, and a map is printed within the novel. How did you go about creating this island?
I did a lot of research into existing Shetland islands, the weather, landscape and wildlife, and I knew what kind of physical features I needed – the peaks, beaches, caves and so on. The island itself was something that grew as the story did.
The book has a host of well-drawn, interesting characters – all very unique in their own ways. As a writer, did you have a favourite?
It’s hard to pick one. Obviously, I loved the main point-of-view character, Ben. You have to love your POV character, as you are writing in their voice. Ben is a good person, with needs and flaws raised and twisted by his family obligations. Also, he is in love with Lizzie for excellent reasons that have nothing to do with how she looks and everything to do with who she is. Lizzie is kick ass and Carmen is so filled with joy. Will was wonderfully fun to write – so twisted – and Grady emerged from a real person who I met on holiday; he kept telling me all these crazy conspiracy theories and trying to persuade me to read books by David Icke and I was like – this person HAS to go into my book, he’s so insane and just doesn’t know it!
Andy kept asking me why I kept talking to him and I replied, are you kidding, this guy is a book all to himself!
There are some intense scenes in the flashbacks – very touching and often sad – and they bring a real understanding into the characters Will, Ben and their mum. Did you find any of these scenes particularly difficult or challenging to write and if so, how did you overcome this?
So much of these appeared in my head fully formed. They were sad, but these characters were alive because of them. They were the insight I needed into who they were and so were almost too easy to write.
The hardest part was the realism – would a school allow a Reception age child to go up two whole year groups? What advice would a real doctor give to a father wondering about his son’s mental health? I had to make some adjustments as I went through, for veracity.
And a quick fire round –
Three books you’d take to a desert island.
Books I could read over and over again – Jingo by Terry Pratchett, Bet Me by Jennie Crusie and (as I’m sneaky) the Complete Works of Shakespeare, which would keep me going for years.
Three writers (dead or alive) who you’d invite for dinner.
Terry Pratchett as I love his writing and I’ve heard he was absolutely delightful, Anne Macaffrey, who was a huge inspiration to me and Lord Byron, to get the party started!
Three films you could watch over again.
There are a number of films that I have as my go-to films, that I watch over and over again and every time they are on television have to watch them, even though they are on DVD on my shelf: The Matrix, Princess Bride and Serenity.
(I would also include Pitch Black, Pitch Perfect, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers 1 and having now just seen The Greatest Showman – that’s going on the list too, but I could only have three)
Three pieces of advice for an aspiring writer.
Read within your genre, read outside your genre.
Use every spare minute to write.
Find a way to get your work critiqued (by someone who you are not related to)
Three places in the world you’d like to visit.
The Maldives – because SO relaxing
The Arctic circle – Northern Lights and whales!
China – in fact I’d like to ride the Orient Express, I have ever since I was a child, it would AMAZING
Thanks so much, Bryony, and huge congratulations for Savage Island!