So lucky to get Sue to chat to me again as she is an extremely busy author, she will be appearing at The Booksmith in Weedon Bec on May 12th and a blog tour for We Other e-book – which runs from 24th May – 6th June. I recently read Sue Bentley’s book We Other and was totally entranced with the concept of mixing reality with fantasy. Her descriptive words pulled me in from the first page, I loved it and wanted to know more about the inspiration behind the book so asked Sue a few questions.
We Other starts off with a great poem, do you often write poetry? I don’t write it very often. Most of my writing energy goes into books – my YA/Adult titles are quite intense and detailed. I write short stories, if I need a change of direction to stimulate my ‘writing muscle’ or to submit to the writing group which meets once a month.
I was asked for an original poem that would be suitable for the beginning of We Other and came up with Their Royal Host – which seemed to fit. I’m glad you liked it. I also wrote some short verses for a children’s series ‘The Fairies of Starshine Meadow’ under the name Kate Bloom. They were very sweet books, which did better abroad than in the UK. Maybe I should write more poetry – I enjoy the Victorian romantics like Christina Rossetti
What inspired you to write We Other? I’ve always been interested in fairy tales – the traditional ones with claws and teeth – not the sanitised Disney versions. As a child I was quite intense and lived a lot in my imagination – although outwardly I may have appeared confident and self-assured. (I’m still like that) I would sink into books and inhabit their worlds. A good book stays with me and becomes part of my DNA. I can still conjure up feelings, characters and images from favourite books. The fact that this inner world of books is alive and well within me – gives me a sense of two levels of being – if that makes sense. So it felt natural to one day write the kind of books I enjoyed reading, with other levels of reality that are just as real, maybe darker and more dangerous than the here and now, but with a kind of haunting beauty.
Did you base the characters on people you know or are they little bits of people you have come across? My characters are built up bit by bit from my imagination. They can be a mixture of people I’ve met, characters I’ve seen in films or read about, friends and relatives. And there’s inevitably some of me in them, too. I’m not going to tell you which bits! I never base a character entirely on someone I’ve met or know well – that would feel too restrictive. But I might use a specific trait and give that a twist to suit my characters or the book. It’s fun to use dramatic license to ramp up the tension.
Love the detail especially when describing the fairies and woodland area, did you often visit wooded areas to help with this? I love walking in nature and often roamed woods and fields as a child. I’ve always been observant and enjoyed learning the names of wild flowers, so I could recognise them. I love trees too – which are some of the oldest and wisest beings on the planet. I find the natural history of the UK breath-taking. I’m inspired by the beauty and richness of the different landscapes. Particularly the places and times ‘in-between’ misty early mornings, soft twinkling twilight, moon glimmering over waves at midnight – all traditional times to see fairies! I do make notes when I’m out and about, but can vividly remember any places that make a special impression on me.
If it was filmed …..Which actors would you choose to play the leading roles? That’s a hard question to answer. I imagine Jess Morgan to look a bit like Noomi Rapace, the actress who played Lisbeth Salander in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – not conventionally pretty but with an aura around her that makes it hard to look away. Jess would be a hard part to cast, because it would be all too easy to use a stunning new actress and try to make her into a Disney Princess. I’d hate that. A younger Tilda Swinton with her amazing androgynous looks would have worked for Jess, too. Caleb would be easier. He’s also a little unconventional looking – maybe someone like Ryan Gosling? I loved him in Bladerunner Two. As for the fairies; Keira Knightley would be good, maybe Helena Bonham-Carter, Douglas Booth, Jaden Smith, even a younger Johnny Depp – you can do anything with CGI these days. I was just reading an article about Zoe Kravitz, who is incredibly beautiful. She’d be perfect for a strong character in the book who is almost too beautiful to look at, but is vicious and amoral. (Not saying who this is, because of spoilers! Readers can work it out for themselves.) I know many writers are disappointed by the films made of their books. You have to view the two things as separate entities, enjoy each for what they are. A lot of what makes a good film is down to the director. So Guillermo del Toro – Academy Award winner for The Shape of Water – would be a great choice. Wonderful imagery in his films. But if Steven Spielberg’s interested, I wouldn’t shut the door in his face. Loved ET and Close Encounters! And there there’s James Cameron…Avatar is one of my all-time favourites.
Do you have plans to write another book of this genre? Yes. I’ve just finished another dark fantasy book entitled Second Skin – which is part of a completely different series about about shape-shifters, and the conflict when cultures collide. Early days re publishing it.
I’m now back to the world of We Other, with my WIP, entitled Scar You. Some months have passed, since the end of the We Other. Of course things were never going to be straight forward for Jess and Caleb. I’m excited about introducing new characters into the mix, one is a young woman, who had a shocking experience on a 1940s bomb site and was changed forever. Another was briefly mentioned in We Other (I’m not saying who, because of spoilers) Presumed dead they’re actually hiding in ‘plain-sight’ while living ‘mortalwise’. This character will have a large bearing on choices Jess has to make and the major upheaval that follows. I can’t wait for this Sue!!!!!
Scar You will have many shades of light and dark, and just as many twists and turns and surprises as We Other, some of which I’ll discover myself as I get further into the book.