Author Interview with Nick Green
I’m interviewing Nick Green, author of YA science-fiction “Project Firebird”. Thanks for answering my questions, and welcome to my blog!
1. When did you know you wanted to be an author?
I’m not sure it’s ever a case of wanting. I think it’s something you are or you aren’t, and the key moment is realising that. Recently I was struck by Susan Price’s book ‘Ghost Song’ in which the hero is born to be a shaman (a powerful kind of witch). As a child, he doesn’t know it in the slightest – he’s just drawn to certain activities, he hears voices in his head, he wants a particular kind of drum (shamans use a ‘ghost drum’) but no-one realises why, himself least of all. The question is, will he ever discover why he does these things? The answer being, that he’s a born shaman. It seemed to me a perfect analogy to being a writer. An innate compulsion that may someday find an outlet (or may not).
2. Where did you get the inspiration for Project Firebird?
There’s one scene, early on in the book, which just popped into my head wholesale before anything else. A bunch of teenagers are gathered together in a remote location, on an adventure holiday (so they believe), when their chief supervisor tells them that actually, they’ve been brought here for their own safety, because a cataclysm is about to destroy much of the world as we know it. In my original idea the cataclysm was to be a nuclear war; later on it became an approaching comet – but the kernel of the idea was that moment: you’re here now, you can’t leave, this is it. Oh crap, in other words. After that, the challenge was to answer the question: what next?
3. What is your editing process like?
Writing is editing. I firmly believe that. I don’t see the writing process as doing the first draft and then just neatening it up. I would say 70 per cent of my whole effort goes into rewrites, and another 60 per cent into more rewrites. It’s not that I’m bad at maths, you understand… I just do rewrite a heck of a lot. I find that the best creative ideas often come when you have a reasonable first draft in place. Improving something is easier than creating it from scratch – just as decorating a house is far easier and more fun than building one.
4. What was the most challenging part of writing this book?
The protagonists spend quite a large amount of time in a confined space, a converted nuclear bunker deep underground in former slate mine. How do you make that constantly dramatic? Building a sense of the claustrophobia, paranoia, angst and boredom – without making the boredom boring – proved quite tricky. Fortunately, enough happens to keep the plot nicely racing along, and they also do get out of the place for large stretches of time.
Even more challenging than that was getting the ending right. For obvious reasons I can’t divulge why that was, but I discussed it exhaustively with my agent, sending version after version to and fro until finally we agreed that it worked as well as it could. You’ll have to find out for yourself whether you think it works or not!
5. What are your writing goals for the rest of 2014?
FIREBIRD is a whole trilogy – Project Firebird is just part one, though a complete story in itself – so after completing it I felt I needed a bit of a recharge. I’m trying my hand now at a piece of younger fiction, more like my early CAT KIN trilogy but perhaps even younger in tone. I don’t really want to talk about that yet though, as it’s still very much a work in progress.
6. Are you working on something now? If so, can you tell us a little about it?
Ah! I should have read the questions in advance, shouldn’t I! Maybe instead of talking about my current book, I’ll give a little mention to my previous book, THE STORM BOTTLE, which is also out on Kindle. To date this is my only stand-alone book, i.e. not part of a series, and will probably always remain so, since I can’t see any way I would write a sequel, or want to. It’s the story of a boy who is rescued from drowning by a dolphin – but then finds that, at the moment of near-death, his mind has swapped bodies with the dolphin’s. Michael is stuck in the ocean as a dolphin, while the dolphin faces a bewildering existence trying to fit in as a human boy. Meanwhile the boy’s step-sister, Bibi, faces the daunting task of trying to switch them back. She’s the main protagonist and first-person narrator (though we also see Michael’s perspective), and is my favourite of all the characters I’ve written. She seems to have won a lot of people over.
Thanks for inviting me to chat!
About The Book
Author: Nick Green
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
How do you save the world when it’s already too late?
Don’t ask Leo Lloyd-Jones. Ask him how to steal a car, or why he got excluded from every school in Salford, but don’t come to him for help. This whole thing must be a daft mistake – and if anyone finds out, he’s done for.
Earth is on a deadly collision course that nothing can prevent. The only real hope is Project Firebird, deep inside a blast-proof bunker that shelters the brightest and bravest young people. Leo has got mixed up with the likes of Rhys Carnarvon, the celebrated teenage polar explorer, and other child prodigies chosen to keep the flame of civilisation.
Among them is the streetwise Paige Harris, a girl Leo likes a lot (but not in that way). Paige is desperate to rescue her little sister from London before the catastrophe strikes. But no-one is crazy enough to try that. Almost no-one.
Leo is about to find out why he’s here.
Nick Green lives in the UK. He is the author of seven fiction books to date, including the middle-grade CAT KIN trilogy published by Strident. His other books include THE STORM BOTTLE, a fantasy adventure about the dolphins of Bermuda, and most recently the FIREBIRD trilogy, a YA science fiction epic.
There is a tour-wide giveaway for all three books in the series in Kindle format.