Our YA ambassador Catriona Feeney, aka Little Book Owl, spoke to bestselling British author cum screenwriter Patrick Ness about his critically acclaimed novel A Monster Calls and his writing habits. 

Patrick, you have written 15 books over your career, including YA and adult books. Which of your novels has been the most fun to write?

Knife of Never Letting Go flew like a rocket.  Never had a writing experience like that before or since.  It was so much fun.  I just felt like I was racing to keep up. 

 

A Monster Calls was based on an idea from the late Siobhan Dowd. What was your process for developing the original idea into the beautiful A Monster Calls?

I was going to say no until the wonderful thing that you want with any idea happened: it started springing other ideas. I read her materials and got an idea of Conor coming out of a dream or vision to discover he'd destroyed his grandma's sitting room. I thought, 'that's the heart of the book'. The rest was the same as any book, the same as what Siobhan would have done, I believe: following it wherever it needed to lead. 

 

Where do you draw inspiration from for your other novels?

Anywhere and everywhere. I wish it was clear cut. I'd go there all the time! 

 

Do you have any unfinished stories stowed away that you might try to revive one day? 

Everything goes into a stew in my mind, churning and turning. They all end up out there in some form or another. 

 

Is there a story you would NEVER try and revive?

Well, once a book is finished, it's finished and deserves to have its life. For me, it's always best to keep looking forward, trying to get better, trying to find new things to write and say. 

 

What role does music play in your writing process?

I frequently have a theme song for each book. The book isn't about that song, but how the song makes me feel. It reminds me of how I want the book to make a reader feel. 

 

What is the worst writing advice you've received?

Any sentence that begins with: "You can't..." My response is always "Watch me..."

 

And now for a lightning round of THIS OR THAT writing questions... 

Edit as you go or fly through the draft?

Both.

 

Day or night?

Day.

 

Public or private space?

Private.

 

Handwritten or typed?

Both. 

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