C.J. SKUSE was born in 1980 in Weston-super-Mare, England. She has First Class degrees in Creative Writing and Writing for Children and today she shares a little bit more about the person behind the books, upon the release of her new title Sweetpea.
I really don’t like Tuesdays – everything bad that has ever happened to me has happened on a Tuesday. I just know the next time I get bad news, it will be on a Tuesday. Both my parents died on a Tuesday.
I love miniatures, especially dolls houses and Sylvanian Families, like Rhiannon does in ‘Sweetpea’ – at first I shoved Sylvanians references in ‘Sweetpea’ because I just wanted to, but the more Rhiannon talked about them, the more I knew they were coming from a deep and meaningful place for her. She suffered a brain injury as a six-year-old and mentally, she has never fully recovered from that. I see her as a fractured personality split straight down the middle – one half is still that six-year-old girl, the other is half-maniac.
I wrote 5 young adult novels before I wrote ‘Sweetpea’ – they are called Pretty Bad Things, Rockoholic, Dead Romantic, Monster and The Deviants
I think I’m very mildly autistic – it does answer a few questions I’ve always had about myself – why I’ve never been good at maintaining eye contact, why some of my behaviours are restricted and repetitive, why I always have to prepare well in advance what I’m doing on any given day and why I’m over-sensitive to background noises which other people can just block out. This is all internet-diagnosed of course. I can just as easily have Spattergroit, Vampiris or the Black Death on occasion, thanks to a quick Google.
I grew up in pubs – my parents ran one throughout my childhood and teen years and during the holidays I’d stay with my auntie and uncle in their pub too. Skittle alleys and car parks were cool playgrounds for me and my cousins. I love the smell of pubs even now – that ingrained beer-in-wood smell always reminds me of home. I feel safe in a pub. As a kid, I could only get to sleep if there was conversation or music playing downstairs.
I was a nursery nurse for 10 years – which has been immeasurably helpful in so many ways – it was my first proper job earning my own money, the people I worked with were universally lovely, my boss was brilliantly accommodating to me while I did my creative writing degrees and it taught me so much about socialisation, both in adults and children. It also really put me off having kids myself so has probably saved me a ton of money too!
I have small obsessions with Beatrix Potter and Kenneth Grahame – and I want a smallholding like Beatrix’s with hens and naughty bunnies running through it right now.
My macabre sense of humour comes from two main places – from my family and from watching an awful lot of comedy shows when I was a kid, namely British sit coms, Victoria Wood’s shows and French & Saunders.
I have a ‘murderer’s thumb’
I call myself C.J because it reminds me of my parents - C and J were their initials and they were both fantastic people, full of love and devoted to one another and to their family. They worked so hard for every penny they made and though they weren’t rich by any means, they put all three of us – myself and my brother and sister - through private education to give us the best starts they possibly could. Nothing ever landed in their laps, just as nothing has landed in my lap as an author. Everything I strive for and everything I achieve is testament to them. I’m still waiting for my own Mirror of Erised so I can see them again.