You’ve drawn on Norse myths for The Twisted Tree – why?
I’ve always had an interest in mythology and love the Norse pantheon. The Norse gods are immensely powerful, but at the same time they are flawed and make mistakes like the rest of us – which is perhaps what makes them so accessible and explains their enduring appeal, inspiring authors from Tolkien to Neil Gaiman.
What excites me most though, is the Norns. Older and more powerful than the gods, they are the women who weave fate in Yggdrasil – a huge mythical ash tree that connects the worlds.
Instead of re-telling a single myth, I’ve chosen to weave together my favourite Norse stories and put them in a contemporary setting to create something which (I hope!) feels fresh for a YA audience.
Which authors have influenced you?
I love Michelle Paver’s ghost stories. She’s such an assured writer, and Dark Matter is a master-class in how to create a creeping sense of dread.
Snake Ropes by Jess Richards is another favourite. She uses myths in such an interesting way and isn’t afraid to push boundaries. I like a book to grab me and not let me go, and the character of Mary has such an arresting voice, I didn’t want her story to end.
Wuthering Heights is another book that has stayed with me – I think it’s the mix of raw emotion, the supernatural, and the wild, windswept moors.
What’s the first book you fell in love with?
Watership Down. I’m a sucker for a good animal story.
Have you done any writing courses?
I did a nine-week script-writing course with Sam Snape some years ago. He’s a great teacher and though the course was for writing movies, it helped me to think visually and write lean dialogue. Other than that, I belong to an online critic group run by SCBWI, which I’ve learnt a lot from. And I’ve learnt a lot from being mentored, too.
What are you working on next?
I am currently working on my second novel – a YA with supernatural elements – which I’m hugely pleased to say is being funded by Arts Council England.