Wednesday 26 June 2013

Bryony Pearce Interview

book signing at launch  About Bryony

   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.

  The Weight of Souls by Bryony Pearce (expected to be published this coming August)

   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?

Booky Ramblings Interview with Bryony Pearce

Welcome to Booky Ramblings, Bryony, and thank you for taking the time to do this interview!

1. What inspired you to write your first book?

My first book was never published.  It was called Windrunner’s Daughter and was about a futuristic, patriarchal society in which a girl wants to do the same job as her father and brothers.  I was inspired by Anne Macaffrey’s character work and by the desire to promote a belief in equality  among younger readers.  I wanted young girls to read about Web and say, ‘I can do that too’.    I still believe that Windrunner has a place and have recently rewritten it.

2. Do you have a specific writing style?

I have been told that my writing is distinctive.  While my subject matter varies wildly (from sci-fi to paranormal romance, to thriller to contemporary realism) my editor can always tell that it is my work.  I write descriptively, vividly (these are not my words by the way), I have a distinctive voice.  I also include large mythic themes (gods and monsters) in everything I write, my main characters are always struggling with the darkness inside them, I always explore good and evil and key themes are freedom and redemption.

3. Which of your novels have influenced your life the most?

Angel’s Fury was the first novel I had published (with Egmont).  Going through the whole process I learned so much, I made great friends and I saw my book on shelves.  I started doing school visits and writing workshops, which teach me as much as I impart.  I won an award and am up for another one next week (as I write this, that will be over by the time you read it).  In response to the question, what do you do?  It allowed me to say (with great pride) I am a writer.

4. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

In terms of personal development I always loved and imitated Anne Macaffrey.  She was the writer I wanted to be when I grew up.  But in terms of practical help along the way, Sarwat Chadda has always been a friend, offering advice and support.

5. What book are you reading now?

I just finished Nalini Singh Hostage to Pleasure and am about to start Tom Winter’s Lost and Found.  I’ve had it for a while but have been putting it off because I’m worried that it will make me cry.

6. What are your current projects?

I am writing a sci-fi novel that is currently called Wavefunction.  It is based on Homer’s Odyssey and multi-universe theory, and is about a young man who discovers that he can jump between the different universes created by decisions.  I am waiting for edits to come back on the first draft so  have started a teen superhero novel, which I am quite excited about and considering getting illustrated.  Also I am bringing up two children.  They are definitely works in

7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

No.  I always wanted to be a writer.  My earliest memories have me planning to be a novelist when I grew up.  I took a couple of detours, but I got here in the end.

8. What was the first book you remember reading as a child/teen/adult?

I remember a book called Aristide.  I used to make my mum read it over and over again.  Also Wind in the Willows.  I read that to my daughter while I was pregnant with her.  I love the lyricism of it.

9.If you could master any other art form what would it be?

Painting.  I dabble amateurishly and am seriously considering doing a more serious course once the children are grown.  I had a modicum of talent as a teenager (I recall my art teacher hounding me through the school trying to get me to do A level but to her horror I chose to do maths instead).  After that I didn’t touch it for years.   I occasionally draw or paint when I have the time, but would love to be able to do it properly.

10. Do you have any superstitions when writing?

Not really.  I don’t have time to for superstitions.  With two young children I just have to get down and write whenever I have a spare half hour.

11. Do you read all your reviews? How do you react to a negative review?

I admit it, I do read all my reviews.  I even look on Goodreads, which is guaranteed to send any author completely insane (for  the Weight of Souls I already have one three star rating which was put up before I’d even finished writing the book – see, crazy-making).

But I value every review.  I value the fact that someone has taken the time and energy to write down their thoughts about my work.  I appreciate the effort, the time it takes to put it all online,  the sense that they care.  Even reviewers who write negative things (and thank goodness there haven’t been many of those so far) care enough about literature to write about my work.  The only way to respect that effort is to take the time to read the reviews myself.

Negative reviews are upsetting, of course they are.  But the absolute last thing I do is reply to them.  I remind myself that everyone is entitled to an opinion and that perhaps they forgot to take their meds that day (only kidding).

12. What snacks/drinks do you keep on hand when writing?

I do like a cup of tea to start the writing process off, but to be honest, once I’m in the zone the tea generally goes cold.  I don’t have snacks (I’m watching my ever
expanding waistline) but I do treat myself with chocolate at the end of a chapter.  This is why my chapters tend to be short!

13. What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Letting someone else read it.  I’m a pretty private person and opening myself up for that kind of criticism was very difficult.

14. Do you have any advice for other writers?

Be stubborn.  Don’t stop writing.  You can’t fail if you never give up.

15. Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Alright, but it is unedited and rough.  No-one has read this yet, but me. Be gentle dear reader.

This is the first thousand words of ‘Blood Skies’ (my teen superhero WIP).

It was 12.30 in the afternoon and the sky above Manchester was black.  Not the black of a lowering cloud heavy with the promise of snow.  It was summer after all.  It was the black of a nest of spiders.  Pitch black in the centre, a colour so dense that it sucked in the gaze and made sparks burn in the corner of your eyes, then lighter at the edges, but roiling with tendrils, like frantic legs reaching and fighting to be free.

The whole pulsed, sometimes it condensed into a globe that hovered above Urbis, often it exploded wider, enveloping the city limits and reaching for the trembling Peaks.

Valerie watched in endless fascination.  She should have been sick with horror at what the skies promised for the future.  But as she wasn’t sure she had a future, she could simply allow herself to watch the myriad patterns in the distant battle for the soul of the earth and be fascinated by the changing darkness in the skies.

Her mother had stepped out, dragging the doctor with her.  As if Val wasn’t old enough to hear anything she had to say.  She would have strained her ears and tried to listen in, but it all seemed like too much effort.  She was just so tired.  So she simply lay and stared out of the window, feeling the insistent tug of the plastic tubing that tickled her nose and listening to the quiet beep of the machines that surrounded her; a symphony to match the pulsing blackness.

Like a tornado her mother re-entered the room.  Val knew she tried to be quiet and that she had developed, over the years, a way of moving that belied her size and exuberant intensity, but still she managed to absorb all the air in a room; every eye, every scrap of attention.  Even Val flicked her eyes away from the blackness to watch her sit down.

The Consultant hovered at the end of the bed; a man well used to power and responsibility squashed into a recalcitrant schoolboy by her mother’s disapproval.  Val smiled tiredly.  Her mother’s mouth was a moue of censure and sour condemnation.  She must have chewed him out.

Her mother’s face softened and she took Val’s hand, turning it over as usual and tracing her life-line with the pad of her finger.  On her mother’s wrist a tattoo stood proud red and black: a heart, broken down the middle and held together with safety pins.  Val’s heart.

“Did you hear any of that?”  Her mother murmured.  Val gave the slightest shake of her head.  Her eyes were already too heavy to hold open.  Her mother’s gentle stroking and giant presence made her even more tired.

Through cracked eyes she saw her mother glare at Mr Kayson.  “We’ve been here before.  You promised us thirty years.”

“I am sorry Mrs Alard.  The repair offered by the Fontan operation does average fifteen to thirty years.  Valerie has been very unlucky.”

“Unlucky?”  Her mother choked and the consultant held up his hands.

“Sometimes the Fontan fails, it was all explained to you thirteen years ago, but I’ll go through it with you once more if you would like me to.”

“She was three.  What were we going to do?”

“I understand.”

“So now we can only wait for a transplant.”  She stroked her other hand through Val’s hair, short against her cheeks, easier to deal with when she was exhausted.  Wash and go hair.  “What are our chances?”

Val was drifting now, sinking down to the bottom of a deep well.  Her mother’s voice came from a long way away, Mr Kayson was a blur at the top, framed by the call of sleep.

“Val isn’t at the top of the list, Mrs Alard.  There are a couple of other children in even more dire straits.  But she’s near the top.  We’ll let you know as soon as anything changes.  In the meantime we’ll be monitoring the situation.  Val’s strong, she’s a fighter.  We’re all pulling for her.”

“I don’t want you to pull for her.  I want you to give her a heart.”  Her mother’s fingers stilled.  Val was almost gone and she sensed that more stroking might disturb her slumber.  “It was her leavers’ dance today.  Her prom.  She had a dress picked out months ago…”

And that was image Val took with her into sleep.

The dress was midnight blue.  Val knew that most of the other girls would be wearing black.  Black was slimming and sophisticated, aspirational.  But she wanted blue.  Dark blue to match her eyes and complement her hair, which was what she thought of as red-orange, but her mother called deep-bronze, or sometimes autumn chestnut, as if she was a sales person, creating colourant out of her tangled waves.

She’d heard the others talking, they were either going for mini-skirts or calf length cocktail dresses, sourced from the Trafford Centre on days out with cinema and lattes to finish.  Val’s dress was from a boutique in Wilmslow.  A maxi dress, it skimmed the floor.  It would hide any oedema on her ankles and swish as she walked in her low heels.  It had a Grecian style drape at the front, which flattered her thin frame, but would also hide the swelling on her stomach and there were chiffon arms that would cover her to the elbow in case of any more unsightly bulges.  The dress was cut high at the front, to cover her scar, but low at the back.  The other girls would show boob or leg.  Val would pin up her short hair and show the elegant lines of her neck and the beauty of the curves of her spine; unscarred, unswollen, touchable.

Her mum had bought her dangling crystal earrings and sparkling pins made of Swarovski crystal for her hair.  Her cousin was coming over from Buxton to do her make-up.

Next to the other girls she would always look different, abnormal, but this time … this time she would stand out in a good way.  She would shine and sparkle and make their mini-skirts look try-hard and inappropriate.

Ryan would glance at her and realise that she was the only real girl in the class; the only one worth spending time with.  Their eyes would meet and he would hold out his hand for her to come and dance.

There would be slow music, a tempo she could move to without losing her breath.  They would step across the floor, smoothly, past the other girls whose stares would burn with jealousy.  He would hold her, with one hand gently on the small of her back, slightly bunching her dress, his fingertips skimming the naked skin of her vertebrae and making her shiver.

“You’re so special.”  He would whisper it in her ear, his breath warming her lobes.  Tendrils of her hair would have escaped the pins, he would push them back gently, lingering over her cheeks bones, staring into her eyes.  Then he would lean down for a kiss and they would stop dancing, even as the music played on.

If you have enough time I would love for you to answer some of our random questions.

1. What song do you sing at the top of your voice every time you hear it?

Florence and The Machine, Shake it Out.  James, Laid

2. What’s your go-to movie?

Galaxy Quest and The Princess Bride

3. Where did you last go on holiday?

We went camping to Anglesey in Wales at half term.  It was brilliant.

4. If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think it would be called?

Ghost writer

5. What’s in your fridge right now?

Lots of the kid’s favourites.  Some ready meals for me (with my husband away I’m having a lazy week) a bit of mould at the bottom of the salad drawer!

6. What’s your favourite take away food?


Thank you for joining us, Bryony, and we look forward to reading The Weight of Souls!


  1. Awesome interview. I was already looking forward to reading 'The Weight of Souls' but after reading the excerpt I cant wait to read 'Blood Skies' too.

  2. Thank you. Blood Skies is a long way off yet, but let's hope a publisher wants to buy it!


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