Sunday, 27 June 2010

Author Interview with Franzeska Ewart

Time for another author interview! This time it's the lovely Franzeska Ewart, who wrote (with children's help) Fire Mask. Read on to find out what Franzeska's other hobbies are, and for more details about Fire Mask. 

Where did you get the inspiration to write Fire Mask?

I was asked to write a thriller, and to write it with schoolchildren as co-authors, so that decision was made for me.
I knew I couldn't leave the subject completely open or we'd be there till doomsday, so I decided the subject would be 'masks'.
The main inspiration came when I started discussing the idea with the children though. There was a Mining Museum near my first school, and as soon as I saw it I knew it had to be the setting. And that really set the plot going. With 'masks' and a Mining Museum with a huge mineshaft, the children and I began to see lots of possibilities for a thriller!
Fire Mask touches on several issues - friendship, dealing with a tough family circumstance: did you intend to deal with all these issues when you first started writing Fire Mask or did they evolve while writing the book?
When I asked the children to 'design' a main character, they came up with a boy with enormous problems ... neglected, poor, bullied - a real 'victim'. I decided our    'Josh' shouldn't be SUCH a problem character, and in particular I wanted him to be a bit more assertive - someone who did have problems, but who tackled these problems head-on.
I did run with a lot of the children's ideas though - so that's where the 'tough family circumstances' came in.
As for 'friendship', I think all books for this age group are about friendship to some degree. But the issue of Josh's failed friendship with Sandy really unfolded and deepened as the children and I discussed it, and I was pleased with how 'believable' it became.
Could you tell us a little bit about the process for the cover competition - how you decided who could take part, what you were looking for in the entries?
Everyone took part, and I whittled the entries down to a final 20. Then Barrington Stoke made the final selection. 

Prior to the competition, I'd given each school a little talk about 'cover design', using material drawn from my own books, and I was looking for something dramatic, but fairly simple and eye-catching. There were LOTS that fitted the bill - so choosing was a difficult job.
Barrington Stoke liked the winning entry because the colours were so good and the expression in the eyes was so frightening. They thought it would give a professional illustrator lots to go on, and I think he did a great job in keeping his design true to the spirit of Rebecca's mask.
Josh doesn't think much of his grandmother's knitting - I don't blame him, but this puts knitting in a bad light! I know you're a knitter, so if you were knitting for Josh, what would you knit him to show that knitting is fashionable?
Aaah ... well ... You have to understand I'm not a very GOOD knitter (and when I wrote Fire Mask I wasn't a knitter at all!). So whatever I knitted probably wouldn't fit. If I HAD to knit Josh something I'd play safe - a crazy stripy scarf, probably.

Are you able to tell us what you're working on at the moment?

Right now I'm having a rest! I've recently finished a radio play, and have just done the final edits to my latest book ('There's a Hamster in my Pocket' pub Frances Lincoln, due out Jan 2011) so for the next few weeks I'm hoping to spend time painting my living room and having a bit of a holiday, Painting's a good activity actually - it's so tedious you sometimes get ideas for stories!!!

Thank you Franzeska for revealing more about Fire Mask. I'm looking forward to what delights are in 'There's a Hamster in my Pocket!' next year. 

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