fiona is supremely nice and very funny (not to mention tres stylish) and her book had one of the best launches i've been to. not only did i help drink readings hawthorn out of red wine*, but i also sneezed some of it out of my nose laughing, first at kaz cooke's launch speech, then the reading from the book. after that, fiona made a lovely speech. if she was nervous, you couldn't tell.
Six (hopefully not impossible) Questions
Q1: Where did the brilliant germ of an idea for Six Impossible Things come from?It started with the idea of Dan - although he didn't have a name them - a shy, wordy-nerdy character having a tough time, who kept coming to mind, and I wanted to give him a story. I was attracted to the idea of this unlikely guy getting to go to the ball (year nine social), and that's where his name came from - an anagram of Cinderella. The other image I had in mind was two houses side by side in a terrace, identical from the outside, but completely different inside. One family with lots of money and one family with none, and how that didn't matter at all to the kids. And I wanted some connection through the attics. The mother's wedding cake business idea (and her talking people out of getting married) had been floating around separately for a while, too, initially as part of a completely different story.
Q2:You mentioned at the launch that this book was three years in the making – yikes! – is there anything that didn’t make the cut that you really wish could have remained?
Q3: Likewise, anything added in at the last minute that you can’t imagine having left out?
Earlier drafts had the dog Howard's thoughts expressed. Even though Dan couldn't hear them, the reader could see them, and knew whether Dan was guessing them correctly or not. The book as it is now just has what Dan imagines Howard is thinking. This change resulted from a note from my editor, and he was right, it was a point of view inconsistency. It did give me a little pang when I chopped all that out. Something I added in the last draft are the scenes in which Dan nearly kisses Estelle in the cactus house at the botanic gardens, and then wonders what the hell is happening between them - if anything - when he goes for a run later that day. The story really needed those two beats to keep their building relationship bubbling along.
Q4: If they were to make a movie of Six Impossible Things, who would you want to play Dan?
I have to say, I'd like to cast Robert Pattinson at fifteen. I think he could play that slightly gawky, awkward, but potential for great cuteness well. And he'd play shy well, but also convey humour and warmth as Dan's confidence grew. He's got the whole social misfit thing happening, so all we'd need is a rewind button on his age.
Q5: Now that the book is out in the wild world is there anything you want to say, or to tell the book something?
About sending it out there: I'm so pleased when people read the book and like it - this will sound strange, but it makes me feel happy for Dan and the other characters. I've spent so long with them, they feel like people to me, and so of course I want readers to like them. But to the book I'd say, 'book, you are who you are, some people will like you, and some people won't. And that's okay.'
Q6: Can you tell us some (maybe six?!) things about your next novel?
1 The protagonist's name is Sibylla Quince, but she is called Sib or Sibbie by everyone except her oldest friend Michael Cassio who always uses her full name.
2 The first draft is about one third written, but fully plotted.
3 It's set over one term in an off-campus, live-in school camp for year 10 students.
4 Sib's best friend isn't as nice as Sib thinks she is.
5 Its themes are friendship and betrayal, and its working title is 'Pulchritude' - what an ugly word for beauty.
6 Lou from Six Impossible Things is in it.
v clever about dan cereill being an anagram of cinderella, i feel a bit stupid that i didn't get that. also very exciting news about pulchritude, or whatever it ends up being called in the end. lou is such a great character and it will be great to read more about her. i hope we don't have to wait three years.
thank you fiona, so much, for your excellent answers and agreeing to this wee interview.
i am fairly sure that more people will like your lovely book than not. i wish it well!
visit fiona's website!