Today, I am honored to feature an interview with Bryony Pearce, author of The Weight of Souls!
Bryony Pearce (formerly McCarthy) lives with her husband and two children in a village on the edge of the Peak District. She completed an English Literature degree at Corpus Christi College Cambridge in 1998 and afterward worked in the business-to-business market research sector. She went freelance in 2004 so she could devote more time to writing. Bryony was a winner of the 2008 Undiscovered Voices competition with her MG novel Windrunner’s Daughter. Her first YA novel, Angel’s Fury, will be published on 4th July 2011 by Egmont.
Tell us something unique about yourself.
That’s a hard question, I don’t think that any one thing makes a person unique. Everybody is different – from the colour of their eyes to the depth of their personality and our uniqueness is a result of the combination of genetics, nurture and everything we have experienced in our lives.
If I mention one thing about myself, I can’t claim that it is unique, as there will be two dozen people out there saying ‘that exact same thing happened to me’. It is those things in combination with one another that make us different to everybody else.
I can tell you something that makes me unusual though. I was born with acetabular dysplasia, which basically means that my left hip socket wasn’t developed properly. I couldn’t walk correctly (with my toes at ten to two as my mother used to put it) and the pain started when I was about eleven. Doctors kept sending me away telling me I had growing pains. By the time I was married I couldn’t walk half a mile without collapsing in tears and after my daughter was born it was a hundred yards. Finally in my late twenties an excellent physiotherapist sent me for an x-ray and when the results came back the doctors got quite a shock. I had barely any cartiledge left in my left hip. I was supplied with crutches, some hardcore pain killers and told that I needed a total hip replacement, stat.
I had my hip replaced in March 2007. I was on crutches until 2010.
I still have a limp and set off the alarms in airports.
What inspired you to become a writer?
Simply, my love of books. I have always loved books and always wanted to be a writer. I never dreamed of anything else.
What inspired your novel, The Weight of Souls? What makes it special?
At school I was bullied and The Weight of Souls is special to me because it explores bullying. It is about the terrible things we do to fit in and the way our own moral compass can become subsumed by a charismatic other.
It is also about Egyptian gods, ancient curses, ghosts a mad scientist and a 10,000 strong army of zombified killers.
Some of the book was inspired by things that actually happened to me, some of it isn’t.
Could you tell us a little about your main character, Taylor? What was it like writing her story?
I love Taylor. Not only does she have to deal with bullying, as I did and as far too many others still do, but she also has this ancient family curse: she sees dead people. If a ghost touches her and passes a black Mark onto her skin she has to find the ghost’s killer and transfer the Mark across to them. The presence of the Mark calls something terrifying called The Darkness, which comes to take the bearer of the Mark away for judgment. If she doesn’t find the killer in time, the Darkness will come for her (as the Mark’s bearer). She has a single friend – a girl called Hannah – who has her own problems, but who has been there for Taylor for years. Still, she is getting tired of the way Taylor blows her off all the time. Taylor’s father doesn’t believe in the curse, he thinks that Taylor has a mental illness and he is trying to cure her. If her own father doesn’t believe in the curse, then Taylor doesn’t think it will be safe to tell her friend. She is lonely, hiding who she really is even from the people closest to her but she is strong, very strong, to cope with everything that she does, without any support.
She was certainly a strong voice inside my head and is still there, clamouring for a sequel. She has more of a story to tell.
How did you get interested in Egyptian culture?
I have been interested in Egyptian culture for years. As a teenager I was fascinated by mythologies from other countries – Aztec, Egyptian, Nordic and Greek were my most researched areas. I was also gripped by the story of the Tomb of Tutankhamen. One day I’d love to go to Egypt.
Can readers expect a sequel to The Weight of Souls?
There is more of Taylor’s story to tell and I have a sequel planned, but readers will only get to see if it the publisher decides that book one sells well enough to merit a second contract. Fingers crossed.
Do you have any other books in the works? What are your future goals?
I have one book ready to go out to publishers, which is a post-apocalyptic story about one girl’s mission to save her family, with a feminist message at its heart. I have one book that I am editing which is based on Homer’s Odyssey and is all about freedom and what that means to different people. I am also working on a superhero novel. I always have something else on the go and I’m always looking towards that next book deal. Hopefully I’ll be around the industry for years to come.
What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Read EVERYTHING. Enter competitions and WRITE, WRITE, WRITE. The best way to become a writer is simply to write.
Where do you like to write?
Wherever I can.
Which do you prefer: longhand writing or laptop?
Laptop. I am fortunate in that I can touch-type very quickly. This means that my writing can keep up with my thoughts. I would get frustrated having to write everything out in longhand.
What is your favorite genre to read?
I like paranormal very much.
Cats or dogs?
Tough one. I had a dog as a child but my husband hates them, so now I have a cat. I love my cat, but I would really like to have a dog one day.
Warm weather climates or cold weather climates?
Warm, definitely. Apart from anything else, cold weather makes my leg stiffen up.
Dinner or dessert?
Dessert. I’m a hopeless chocolate addict.
Ice cream or cake?
Cake. Definitely. Although if I can have an arctic roll that’s the best of both, isn’t it?
What is the best thing that ever happened to you?
I am a very lucky individual. My dreams have come true. I met my husband when I was at university and our marriage is way up there at number one. I have two amazing children, a boy and a girl. The birth of each child was the best thing that ever happened to me and also up there at number one. Of course neither would have happened without my husband, so perhaps he edges it. And I am a published author. The moment I got that first book deal, that was up there too.
Thank you, Bryony!! If you would like to know anything else about Bryony, or her writing, please do visit her website www.bryonypearce.co.uk follow her on Twitter: @BryonyPearce or like her Facebook Page BryonyPearceAuthor. She is always happy to hear from you.
Also, in honor of this interview, Ketch’s Book Nook is giving away one hardback copy of The Weight of Souls (INT). Open until midnight, October 17th. To enter, complete the Rafflecopter form -> a Rafflecopter giveaway
The Weight of Souls
Sixteen year old Taylor Oh is cursed: if she is touched by the ghost of a murder victim then they pass a mark beneath her skin. She has three weeks to find their murderer and pass the mark to them – letting justice take place and sending them into the Darkness. And if she doesn’t make it in time? The Darkness will come for her…
She spends her life trying to avoid ghosts, make it through school where she’s bullied by popular Justin and his cronies, keep her one remaining friend, and persuade her father that this is real and that she’s not going crazy.
But then Justin is murdered and everything gets a whole lot worse. Justin doesn’t know who killed him, so there’s no obvious person for Taylor to go after. The clues she has lead her to the V Club, a vicious secret society at her school where no one is allowed to leave… and where Justin was dared to do the stunt which led to his death.
Can she find out who was responsible for his murder before the Darkness comes for her? Can she put aside her hatred for her former bully to truly help him?
And what happens if she starts to fall for him?