What Inspires Me
I talk a lot about finding inspiration for stories when I go out to schools and libraries and talk to you readers. The key thing I tell them is that inspiration can come from anywhere. Ferryman was inspired by a strange dream and the landscape I had to drive through on my long commute to school every day. Bombmaker was sparked by a Clive Owen film I saw called Children of Men. And Black Cairn Point was inspired by a camping trip my husband took me on. (What about Trespassers? Well… it was inspired by Ferryman! ) My point is, you can get that jolt of inspiration from anywhere and anything and anyone.
Other stories and other writers are definitely a source of inspiration.
One of the writers I admire the most is Malorie Blackman. I’ve talked before about how much I love Noughts & Crosses (Oh Callum, sigh), but that book is actually the start of a four-book series. Across the four books, Malorie Blackman manages to weave in a seamless development in the society the book is set in – where white people are the underclass and black people hold all the wealth and power – until, by the end of the fourth book, you can see real progress towards equality. This theme runs beautifully under four really exciting stories. It’s so clever.
A question I’m asked quite frequently whenever I do writer interviews is what book do you wish you’d written? The answer to that is Crossing the Line by Gillian Philip. It was a finalist in the Scottish Children’s Book Awards in 2010/2011 and I read it when I was taking part in the awards with one of my classes. It didn’t win in the end, but I loved it. The main character is a boy called Nick Geddes and he’s a bit of a bad lad. Not underneath, but no one really gets to see that. Male leads in YA fiction are much less common, but what struck me was just how real the main character was – I could see echoes of lots of the boys I taught in his supposed hard-man manner. He was a thug with a heart and I loved him. I wish I’d created him.
Lastly, writers I really admire are those who can create a whole new world for me to enter. I read a lot of fantasy because I like escaping somewhere completely different. The best writers create not just people and places, but rich cultures that make the story seems so believable, I can imagine this world really does exist. The most famous example is J. R. R. Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings, but more recently George R. Martin’s Game of Thrones has come to the fore. I also love The Iron Seas books by Meljean Brooks (adult content alert!) which are steampunk and so cool. Graceling by Kristin Cashore is another good (much more YA!) example. I’d love to have a go at high fantasy – creating my own world – someday, but I worry that I’ll struggle to think outside the box, that our world will be too ingrained in my head. I’m waiting for a really cool idea to strike, then I’m going to have a bash. Because you should always attempt something that scares you – otherwise how would you grow?
Claire McFall is a writer and a teacher who lives and works in the Scottish Borders. She is the author of paranormal thriller Black Cairn Point, winner of the inaugural Scottish Teenage Book Prize 2017. Her debut novel Ferryman won a Scottish Children’s Book Award, and was nominated for the Carnegie Medal and shortlisted for the Branford Boase award. Her other books include dystopian thriller Bombmaker. Trespassers, the much-anticipated sequel to Ferryman, will be published on 14th September 2017.
Thanks so much to Claire for her fabulous guest post, and check back next week for a review of the stunning Ferryman!