Q&A with Ben Craib

Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for Love Is The Answer. I’m sharing my Q&A with the author with thanks to Zoe O’Farrell for inviting me on the tour and to Ben Craib for answering my questions!

Have you always wanted to write?

Ever since I was a teenager I knew I wanted to be a writer. It was weird, because I wasn’t exceptional at school at writing-related stuff, I found it hard. But deep down, I knew.

What were your previous jobs? Have they helped you with your writing process?

Yes and no! Just living life helps with the writing process. So working in bars, cafes, is invaluable like that because you see a lot of life and strange people. 

I ran drama workshops for theatres in London for almost ten years. That was amazing, connecting with young people and their creativity and energy, and helping them express it through acting and writing. 

I’ve done a lot of marketing work, which involves lots of words — copywriting, PR pitches, etc, so that has been great for working with words quick and fast.

What was your inspiration for Love Is The Answer?

I had just read Harlen Coben’s YA trilogy and was blown away so I started off trying to copy him, writing a twisty turny thriller. In it a teen boy was investigating the murder of a girl called Scarlett. Sounds good on paper, but it was rubbish, ad I found myself more and more interested in Scarlett’s backstory. 

So I ditched the thriller and started from scratch with Scarlett as the main character, and the book just organically flowed from there.

In terms of themes, they just naturally emerged from the characters and writing, but they are all close to my heart — grief, clubbing (the dark side), wild and dark love, and being young and messed up, and the struggle through the darkness, to come out of it all with something precious and valuable,

How do you construct your characters? Do they have traits of people you know?

 For me character construction is like a paradox. First and foremost they naturally spring out imagination, I see them there, and it’s my job to get them down. They have a total life of their own.

 Then I consciously work on them, sometimes choosing traits of people I know to make them sharper or better, or more or less sympathetic to the reader. 

I pretty much never base a character directly on someone I know — deep down I feel my characters are real, and it’s my job to tune into them and bring them into this dimension.

What does your writing process look like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

 30% plotter 70% pantser — I have an idea of the shape of the story, but the detail, and a lot of finer plot points evolve as I go along.

How did you research Love Is The Answer? Did you enjoy it?

I grew up in the nineties when raving was very mainstream. Raving still very much happens, though it’s more undeground now, so I had to really research the modern scene and DJ life, as it forms a big part of the book. Various details about London, A-Level course structure etc, had to be researched. 

I also read as many other YA and adult books that covered the same terriory so I could to learn about how other people do it.

My first passion is diving in with the characters and getting going on the page, and I research as and when I need to. That normally makes it fun and inspired, as opposed to doing a MA on a subject for a year before you start writing.

Who are your favourite writers? Are you influenced by them?

Adult

Donna Tartt – The Goldfinch

John Banville – Snow

YA Writers

Kalthlee Glasgow — Girl in Pieces

Eleanor  and Park — Rainbow Rowell.

Both adult writers are major inspirations — they take genre stuff we all love (crime, mysteries, intrigue) and do it vivid unforgettable literary way. Normally the put down for literary fiction is that it is boring, slow and up itself. Not these two, the characters and scenes burn themselves into you and don’t leave.

Both YA writers do character on another level to most YA I read. They both write young people with heavy trauma and burdens, and they are vivid, rich and alive, you feel they have never lost touch with what it felt like being a teenager. Some YA writers write what they think being a teenager is, not what it actually is IMHO.

If you could invite three people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be and why?

Donna Tartt, Joseph Campbell, James Hillman.

It’s dangerous meeting your heros but  the latter two are some of the wisest writers we’ve ever had – would love to talk to them. And Donna wrote my favourite novel ever. 

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?

 Ah man, I might get sued if I say!

Who would play the main character/s in a film version of Love Is The Answer?

US actors – I love Chiara Aurelia

UK – Millie Bobby Brown

What do you like to do in your spare time?

 Read! Gym, family, cooking, exciting stuff like that.

What is next for you?

 I’m just finishing a second novel.

Favourites:

Book? Donna Tarrtt – The Goldfinch

Film? Baz Lurman’s Romeo and Juliet — The Ultimate YA Movie 

Band/Singer? The Verve, Richard Ashcroft 

TV show? Schitt’s Creek

Colour? Blue

Place? London

Biscuit? Chocolate Digestive

***

Love Is The Answer is available from Amazon.

You can follow the rest of the blog tour here:

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