Thursday, June 7, 2012

APOCALYPSE NOW: An interview with Jane McLoughlin, author of AT YELLOW LAKE

Today we welcome Jane McLoughlin to the blog. Her debut novel, winner of the 2010 SCBWI Undiscovered Voices prize, AT YELLOW LAKE hits the shelves today!

About the book, (from Goodreads): Jonah is at Yellow Lake to get in touch with his Ojibwe heritage. Peter has come from England to bury a loc of his mother's hair--her final request. Ett'a on the run from her mom's creepy boyfriend and his criminal friends. As the three take shelter in a cabin by the shore of the lake, they soon understand that they have stumbled onto the scene of a horrifying crime. Will they leave the lake alive?

Hi Jane, welcome to the Lucky 13s and congratulations on the release of AT YELLOW LAKE! What will you be doing to celebrate?

I’ll be spending the actual launch day in Paris!  The following week, I’m  having  launch event at a wonderful children’s book shop.

Your book is about three teenagers taking shelter in a cabin and stumbling across a horrifying crime, was it very difficult to write?
There were some moments that were. I was writing one key section while I was in the US, staying in my family’s lakeside cabin (a loose model for the one in the book) and I had to turn away from the screen as I wrote (luckily I’m a good touch-typist). The “horrifying crime” isn’t actually shown, but the consequences for my main characters are, and they were very difficult to write.

Where did you take inspiration from?

In terms of the crime element, that seemed to arise quite naturally from the setting—based on my own family’s cabin—and the characters. I didn’t actually set out to write a thriller!  The crime is based on the rise in methamphetamine production in the US, and fit the overall setting and world of the characters I’d already been working on. 

In spite of the dark tone of your book, did you have fun writing it? What was the most enjoyable part?

I loved writing this book. The most enjoyable part was probably bringing each of three main characters to life, and making them as distinctive and true as I could. And, although some of the more “gritty” elements were difficult, writing villains and bad behaviour is also fun. 

Go on, tell us: who’s your favourite character?

Oh, that’s just mean!  It’s like asking which of your children you love the most. I’ll say Etta, the girl, if I have to. She was the easiest to write and is the closest character to myself. But they’re all wonderful, and I’m not just saying that because I’m their literary mother!  

Do you have a typical writing day? 

I started writing when my children were small (now in their early 20s) and wrote  At Yellow Lake after I’d starting working as a teacher, so writing was always something done in the margins of my life. Early morning was always the best—before anyone else was awake. I had a year off work last year to write full-time, and it was heavenly. I still wrote first thing every morning—the best time of day for me.

Do you have an advice for beginning writers?

The main advice is, of course, keep writing! Try to write something that you feel real passion for, creating characters that you love and care about. Expect (and accept) a lot of disappointment, excruciatingly close near-misses and general “down”  times. Don’t give in to them, though. 

And since we’re such a superstitious lot, do you have any superstitious habits?

No, but I’ve been reading my horoscopes quite often this year, something I don’t normally do.  June’s looking pretty good! 

Thanks for dropping by Jane.

Thank you, Lucky 13ers.

Jane McLoughlin was born in Minnesota and lived in several parts of the USA before she met her future husband in San Francisco and followed him to the UK. Over 20 years later, she is still there, living with her family on the south coast of England. "At Yellow Lake" is her first novel for young people. 

This interview was conducted by Chelsey Flood, author of INFINITE SKY, which comes out with Simon and Schuster in 2013.

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