Welcome to the Matriarchy.
Sixty years after a virus has wiped out almost all the men on the planet, things are pretty much just as you would imagine a world run by women might be: war has ended; greed is not tolerated; the ecological needs of the planet are always put first. In two generations, the female population has grieved, pulled together and moved on, and life really is pretty good – if you’re a girl. It’s not so great if you’re a boy, but fourteen-year-old River wouldn’t know that. Until she met Mason, she thought they were extinct.
It is finally my turn the YA Shot Blog Tour,I’m super excited to be apart of it ! I have an interview with the lovely Virginia Bergin, the author of Who Runs The World!So without further ado…
What inspired you to write?
Ah, Liv! That’s such a tough question! I grew up loving reading and writing – though I had no idea how people became authors, that’s for sure. I think I discovered pretty early on that you could escape into a book – and that’s what I still love most about reading and writing: you can take your imagination to some amazing places. Who wouldn’t want to do that?
Did you read much as a child and if so what were some of your childhood favourites?
I read TONS. My mum took me to the library every week until I was old enough to start going on my own, and because I was the youngest child of the family I also got my hands on books that were not meant for kids at all (Germaine Greer and Alexander Solzhenitsyn, anyone?) – including horror stories that gave me nightmares. My older sisters have a lot to answer for!
But the books I loved most? They were typical, I suppose, for a 1970’s child. I was lost in the Narnia series by C S Lewis; I went through a phase of reading Joyce Stranger’s animal stories; I cried through Watership Down by Richard Adams and Duncton Wood by William Horwood. I adored Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert O’Brien and I loved Tove Jansson’s Finn Family Moomintroll books – still do; of all my childhood reading, these are the stories that stay with me. They’re full of quiet wisdom – and excellent characters! (Little My!!!)
Do you ever feel any pressure when writing?
Yes. All the time.
I’m not talking about the external pressure of a publisher’s deadline – though that can help you to GET ON WITH IT (see below) – I’m talking about the internal pressure to write as well as you can.
Instead of charging headlong through a first draft – which I am told is a good idea, just get it out onto the page – I write and cut and re-write as I go. I find it really hard to move onto the next sentence if I know the last one wasn’t quite right. It’s not just a question of finding words that please me, it’s a question of finding exactly the right words for the story – for the character, for the emotions, or to describe the scene. This is not an efficient way of working. I annoy myself doing it – and I think I must annoy my editors too, because the tinkering doesn’t stop at the first draft, it goes on and on until the book goes to press.
I just want to tell a story as well as I possibly can. This doesn’t feel the same as ‘perfect’. ‘Perfect’ is not an option; ‘trying my best’ is realistic – but it does mean P-R-E-S-S-U-R-E.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
GET ON WITH IT. I say this to everyone (including myself). There will always be so many reasons not to write, from self-doubt to not-enough-time, but the only way you’re going to grow as a writer is by doing it . . . which leads me to my second hot tip: NO WORD IS EVER WASTED. We’ve all written things that just didn’t work, but even if you spend years working on a novel that ends up getting scrapped, you will have learned so much doing it. Another essential way to learn is to EXPOSE YOURSELF TO CRITICISM. This can be a tough one for many of us. (Tough as in excruciatingly painful.) I think it really helps to show your work to people outside your immediate friends/family – so join writers’ groups or online communities, go to courses. Get your work out there and learn to listen carefully to what other people have to say about it. It takes practice to sort helpful feedback from unhelpful, but the more experience you have, the stronger your writing will become.
Finally . . . READ. You knew I was going to say that, didn’t you? (Other writers will inspire you – and ‘give you permission’ to tell a story your own way.)
What can you tell us about your next book?
My lips are sealed! (Except to say I seem to have chosen yet another tricky subject . . .)
Off the top of your head, what books would you recommend to every book lover?
Argh! There are SO MANY great books out there!
(Plus, when I’m writing YA I don’t tend to read YA . . . and as I’m writing YA nearly all the time, I hardly ever have any good YA recs – though last year I loved most A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland and THUG by Angie Thomas.)
When it comes to non-YA, I tend to ‘discover’ a writer and then want to read as much of them as I can. It’s what I’ve always done. It’s how I discovered all kinds of classics, and Flannery O’Connor and Dostoyevsky and Alice Walker and and and and and!
Recently, I’ve found Charlie Jane Anders, Kiran Desai, Tom Drury and Karen Thompson Walker . . . but my all-time favourites are Raymond Carver and Cormac McCarthy, for the beauty and skill of their writing. And The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy – and A Beautiful Truth by Colin McAdam and and and and and . . .
. . . what I would recommend to every book lover is follow your love. Enjoy discovery.
SO MANY GREAT BOOKS.
Thank you for asking me onto the blog, Liv!