Following the release of her new book Night of the Party, we asked author Tracey Mathias to share some facts about her she'd love her readers to know! She did not disappoint...
READING... As an only child, summer holidays included long patches of solitude spent sitting on my bedroom floor with my guinea pig on my lap and a book in my hand; he ate the cornersof the pages as I read them.
MORE READING... In my teens, my mum and I used to fight over each new book in the Lorimer series by Anne Melville. Thenext time I saw those books was years later on my first visit to my then boyfriend’s flat. ‘Why have you got the Lorimers?’ I asked him. ‘My mum wrote them,’ he said. Fate? We are still married... I regret that I didn’t start writing until after she died, though maybe she saw the writer in me. She left me the task ofcompleting the final edits on her last, posthumously published novel.
WRITING... In my childhood and teens, I wrote as much as I read – though my plans to write a sweeping historical epic aboutthe Welsh emigration to Patagonia in the long summer after O Levels were derailed by the temporary acquisition of a boyfriend...
NOT WRITING... I stopped writing in my late teens: studying English A level I was painfully aware of the gap between what I was reading and what I could write. I think I was taken in by themyth of effortless genius; I didn’t understand how much practice and sheer graft goes into writing.
DEFINITELY NOT WRITING... I still thought I might write, one day, and so did other people (my parents and parents-in-law especially). Having children created the chance for a change in life; maybe now was the time to write? But I wasn’t sure by now whose ambition it was – mine or other people’s? I remember pushing a pram across Hampstead Heath and thinking ‘I don’t have to write if I don’t want to’ – and feeling a sense offreedom, of expectation lifted.
WRITING AGAIN... Probably it wasn’t a coincidence that quite soon after that, I came back to writing. I was helping out with a music summer school for kids; we needed some last minute lyrics for songs; I volunteered. I rediscovered a simple joy in words and the joy of writing for children. I spent the next five years working on a fantasy trilogy.
NIGHT OF THE PARTY... I had finished the trilogy and was feeling rather lost, when my neighbour, the playwright Bernard Kops, stopped me in the street and said: ‘Come to my writing class.’ I went. The format was terrifying and wonderful: in each session, we had half an hour to write a piece of dialogue that was then handed over to two actors and performed straight back to us. Sometimes I wrote nothing. Sometimes I wrote rubbish. Then in late 2014 I imagined Ash and Zara. I wrote a couple ofinconsequential scenes about them. In week three, I found myself writing furiously and with passion a scene where Ash discovers the secret that Zara has been keeping: that she knew his dead sister Sophie and was at the party where Sophie died.There was a hush after the actors had read it, and I knew immediately that I had to write this story.
Night of the Party (Scholastic) by Tracey Mathias is out now.
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