Very excited to be kicking off my author interviews with a good friend of mine, Sophie Cleverly. Having done a Creative Writing BA, I met a lot of people who 'wanted to be authors'. Sophie was one of those people of whom I thought, you know what? She's actually going to do it, and here we are. Since graduating Sophie has published three books, with a new one in the pipelines...
Which is your favourite of the books you have written so far?
I think I will always have a soft spot for my first book, The Lost Twin, because it was the one that started it all. It felt amazing to be able to create this whole world around the creepy Rookwood School and all its characters. The book deals with the disappearance of Ivy’s twin, Scarlet, and how Ivy must pretend to be her to find out the truth. The events that take place in that story are really the catalyst for everything else that happens in the series.
Who is your favourite character in the Scarlet and Ivy books?
I think it would have to be Ariadne, the twins’ best friend. She’s a joy to write, because she’s the wonderful combination of goofy and smart and caring – she’s like a beacon of light in Rookwood, which is a very nasty and dysfunctional place. I’d love to have Ariadne as a friend in real life, honestly! She has a secret “dark” side as well, which is a lot of fun to explore.
What can you tell us about your new book?
The new book is called The Lights Under The Lake, and it’s about a Rookwood school trip – what could possibly go wrong? Gulp… The girls visit a lakeside hotel, but the ghosts of the past are about to come back to haunt them… The great thing about writing this book was that I got to use a lot of experiences from the school trips I went on. There’s some particular scenes in the book, like one where they go caving, which were taken directly from things that happened to us.
Are you working on anything else aside from the Scarlet and Ivy series?
Yes – I’ve always had a few stories on the go, but Scarlet and Ivy takes up most of my time. My biggest background project is a mystery set in Victorian times, which I hope might be my next book once the Scarlet and Ivy series is complete. It has a similar feel, but it’s a very different time. It takes some inspiration from one of my all-time favourites: Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.
How do you go about writing a mystery? Do you always know how it will end before you begin?
I always work backwards: I start with the incident that has taken place, then I go back and think about how it happened, why it happened, who was involved, and so on. I plan this all out roughly on paper, often spiralling off into new ideas. Once I have a full picture of what’s going on, I write a story synopsis that I send to my editor. I think with a mystery it’s almost essential to know how the story ends, or at least what the solution to the mystery is. You need to know what has happened in order to place clues, and keep your characters’ motivations in order.
Where do you go to do your writing? Do you have a favourite cafe or spot in your house?
I almost always do my writing at home, and usually on my PC. My PC is in our dining room, which is probably a bit strange, but it’s one of my favourite rooms in the house as it’s so bright, with a great view of the garden (and means I can combine writing with cooking)! I have to make sure I have my phone or a notebook on me at all times, though, because I often have ideas at really inconvenient times. Quite often my brain will come up with nearly a whole novel while I’m trying to sleep!
What is the most exciting part of being a writer?
For me, it’s getting to interact with readers. Whether it’s meeting them at school events, or getting a letter in the post, or being sent a video online – it always makes my day. I often feel like as a writer I live in a bit of a bubble and don’t get out much, and I find it hard to imagine that real people actually read my books. Knowing that they have, and that they liked them, makes it all worth it.
Random Question - if you could visit any era in the past, where would you go?
I love the aesthetics of the 1950s. There were things that were worse back then, so I wouldn’t want to stay for long (probably true of any time in history, really) but I’d love to drop in and see some of the fantastic dresses and futuristic styling.
Born in Bath in 1989, Sophie studied the Creative Writing BA and Writing for Young People MA at Bath Spa University. Aside from writing novels, she also blogs about symphonic metal, reads as much as she can and promotes awareness about the chronic illnesses she suffers with, including Crohns Disease. Check out her website.