Can you tell us a bit about your new adult trilogy, The City?
The first two books can be read independently of each other, as they are stand-alone stories which are set at the same time. Events do overlap, but it isn’t until the third book that the plot threads are pulled firmly together. The first, Procession of the Dead, is about a young man who comes to a mysterious city to become a gangster. He soon falls in with The Cardinal, the city’s criminal kingpin, and begins a meteoric rise to the top. It should be a smooth ride, except he soon becomes aware that all is not well in the city – people vanish without trace, a legendary serial killer operates freely, blind Incan priests seem to pop up everywhere he looks, and most worryingly of all he can’t recall anything before coming to the city…
How different was it for you, switching from a focus on young readers to adults? Any difference to your writing style or technique?
They’re actually not as different as you might think. My children’s books have always been dark, vicious affairs, so the leap to adult fiction wasn’t as great as it probably would have been for many authors in my position. Having said that, the language is certainly a lot rougher in my adult books, and I don’t have to shy away from sexual references!! The main difference is that these are more amoral – in my children’s books there is a fairly clear divide between good and evil, right and wrong, whereas in my books for older readers I like to be more ambiguous.
I read that it took over 14 years for the final version of the story to come about! How much of it changed throughout the years and editing?
Well… yes and no!! I did spend over 14 years in total working on the book, but the book was in limbo for quite a lot of that time, while I was working on my children’s books. It didn’t actually change much after the first few drafts – it was simply a matter of developing my editing skills, so that I could tighten it up and have it roll along more smoothly.
What’s next for you, after this series? Any other stories on the horizon?
Yes, I have a couple of books lined up and ready to go. At the moment I’m fine-tuning them and discussing with my agent which one to lead off with. One has a fantasy element; one is a straight-up thriller. I hope to release both, it’s just a matter of deciding which one I would like to unleash first.
Where you happy with the film version of Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant?
Yes. It’s very different to the books, but on its own terms I think it’s a quirky little curio that works very nicely – I think I would have enjoyed it a lot if I’d seen it when I was younger. I don’t think there are any movies out there quite like it, in the way that it mixes up styles and genres. Some critics lazily rounded on it and dismissed it as a Twilight rip-off, despite the fact that it had been greenlighted long before the first Twilight film was ever released! In a way, the current vampire craze worked against it – I think it might have fared better if it had been released a couple of years earlier or later. Oh well, the great thing about movies is that time is the ultimate deciding factor. Many films do well at the box office, then pass from memory. I’ve a sneaky suspicion that this one might be a grower…
How much say did you have in the process?
None at all. I deliberately stayed out of the film-making process, since I prefer to spend my time working on projects which I can control. Screenwriters have no ultimate control – that goes to the director. I stayed focused on books and keeping up with my rather grueling publishing and touring schedule.
Are there plans to continue the series?
It’s not looking too positive at the moment. The film did pretty well globally, but didn’t do brilliantly in the States. And I think they probably spent more on the sets and effects than they should have. If it had been a low-budget film (which it could have been) I think it would have by now made enough to merit a sequel. But it was a big-budget film, so I can’t see Universal going ahead with a sequel in the immediate future. But hopefully one day, if its reputation continues to grow, a sequel or reboot might come from somewhere…
Tell us a bit about yourself and your experience in writing.
I wanted to be a writer since I was a very young child, and I never gave up on that dream. I started pushing myself when I was a teenager – I finished my first novel when I was 16. I wrote quickly and broadly, writing lots of books which weren’t publishable, experimenting, learning my trade, developing. I got my first breakthrough with a book for adults, but then my children’s book went stellar and I focused on those for most of the past decade. Now I’ve come back with the adult books and would love to balance the two going forward.
What inspires you?
Books, movies, things that happen in real life. Inspiration is never a problem – it’s deciding how to whittle down the ideas, to choose a direction in which to move. I’m always looking to try different things, mix up genres, do new tricks with old stories and styles. Ultimately I’m just inspired by a need to tell stories.
Who are some of your favorite authors? What books do you love?
Stephen King, Roald Dahl, Tolkien, Ray Bradbury, James Ellroy, Kurt Vonnegut. The Secret Garden, Huck Finn, The Chocolate War. I could go on and on and on!
What do you do when you’re not writing? In your spare time?
I like to read. I’m a huge movie buff – I’ve a collection of more than 4,000 movies at home, and growing! I like to travel. I enjoy going to museums and collecting art. I go to a lot of soccer matches and theatre and concerts.
Thanks for your time! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Although it’s being published for children, I think that my next book, The Thin Executioner, could just as easily have been released under an adult imprint, so my more mature fans might like to watch out for that one too! Although it’s a fantasy quest story, it’s also a very thinly veiled criticism of the war in Iraq – I see no reason why a fantasy novel can’t be political at the same time.