Welcome to my very first blog post for a blog tour! This time, we’ll be asking some questions (and getting some answers) from Printz Award winning author, Nick Lake! If you want to see my review for There Will Be Lies, just follow the link. My questions are slightly odd, but those make for the best questions! Here we go!
Just a Broke Bookworm: I noticed heavy amounts of Native American mythology in the novel. How much research went into writing There Will Be Lies and what did you research?
Nick Lake: That’s an interesting one because it wasn’t originally the intention to have that in there. In the first draft it leant much more towards the fairy tale archetypes, the witch, the castle, and Coyote was there as a guide but that was pretty much it. But in subsequent drafts I built in more and more of the Navajo and Apache and Yavapai references and the mythological backstory; it just felt like it brought more resonance of place to the story aside from anything else. Shelby is in Arizona; it makes sense that her Dreaming taps into that Perry Mesa culture, the symbology of elks and Coyote. Plus of course the trickster idea is pretty central to the book, Coyote disrupting Shelby’s life, and so I wanted to put some of Coyote’s stories in there. Really though it was the best kind of research because it was mostly reading folk tales and anthropology. I could do that all day. I also spent a lot of time on google maps working out Shelby and her mom’s journey – it’s a road trip book so that element was important. I’m excited actually because in about two weeks I’m doing a short tour in the states and we’re going to follow the same route, and see the elk rock paintings, and so on.
JaBBW: I snack a lot when I am writing. I can imagine writing this novel took a long time. What kind of snacks did you eat while you were writing?
NL: Nothing at all. But that’s only because I write specifically and only on the train to and from work and I don’t have any snacks with me. I’m a snacking reader though. I get through a lot of chocolate when I’m reading. I used to eat peanut butter M&Ms which I imported from America (we don’t get them here) but since my daughter turned out to be anaphylactically allergic to nuts we have purged them from the house. Selfish of her really.
JaBBW: What inspired you to write this novel?
Oh… Ok, so the obvious answer is that I encountered a coyote in the grounds of a hotel in Arizona, late at night, and it made a profound impression on me. But it’s also the answer I’ve given in various other places. I think the other answer is that it’s very much a book about parents and children and safety and growing up and a lot of it was inspired by – not too put too fine a point on it – my overwhelming fear about, and desire to protect, my own young children. In particular though I was thinking about a certain kind of news story, and the best case scenario in that kind of story, and I thought, “well I can imagine how the parents would feel on finding this resolution but how would the child feel?” And the whole story pretty much spun from that single question.
This will sound cryptic to anyone who hasn’t read the book but to be any more clear would be a HUGE spoiler. But anyway, yes, it was probably wanting to put the spotlight on the child, in a story that tends to focus on the parents.
JaBBW: I’ve seen a lot of authors display their writing playlists lately. Do you have a playlist for TWBL? If so, what’s on it? If not, what do you listen to when you write?
NL: I don’t have a playlist but I do have a type, or a couple of types, of music that I listen to when I write. It needs to be mostly non-vocal, so I don’t get distracted by lyrics, and it usually falls in that woozy, chopped-and-screwed, echoey space between hip hop, RnB, juke, and dubstep. The Weeknd, the XX, Tinashe, Makonnen, mixes by Shlohmo, A$AP Rocky (which leads to Clams Casino instrumentals), Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, FKA Twigs, Burial, even old DJ Screw stuff, and compilations I’ve made of white label grime from about 2004 like Ruff Sqwad. There is NO link between this music and the books, it wouldn’t serve as a useful soundtrack or anything like that. It just puts me into the right sort of trance, I think.
JaBBW: Do you have any pets? If you have pets, do you read them your books and see what they think? (This might sound like an odd question, but I read to my dog a lot and she loves it – but she used to be a person).
NL: I have a cat, Leo, but I’ve never read to him. To be honest I don’t think he’d sit still. We live in the countryside in England and he is a real outdoor cat. We barely see him, except when he brings us dead things. I know why one would read to a pet though; they do look at you sometimes in that unnerving way that suggests that they have been reincarnated into that body.
JaBBW: What thoughts went through your head when you won the Printz Award for In Darkness, and what did you do immediately after you found out you had won?
I think I thought it was some kind of joke. I mean, I’m from the UK, I was used to awards having some kind of long list and shortlist and being warned ahead of time. I didn’t know you could win an award over the phone on a cold afternoon (time difference) from a group of people on speakerphone. I truly thought it was my colleagues pulling a prank of some kind. I vividly remember saying, “are you sure you wouldn’t rather give it to X”, with X being the name of a well known author. But they didn’t. It was just a lovely moment, they were so warm and excited and I had been working in England in the cold because the heating in our house was literally installed in Victorian times and there were all these smiling sunshiney American voices on the phone doing something amazing for the book. Nowadays I know more about the process and I’m mostly just in awe of the kind of people who volunteer to read so many books, to put in so much largely unrewarded work in order to try to help put teens in touch with books. Writing a novel is EASY compared with being a Printz judge. Those guys are amazing.
Oh and after? I had a drink. And then my daughter, who was two, called from the living room to say, “Daddy, I’ve done a poo.” Which brought me back to earth with a bump.
I hope you guys learned a lot about Nick Lake and his awesome book, There Will Be Lies, which released on January 6th (if you haven’t gotten it yet, what are you waiting for?! Go, go go). I know you learned a ton about me (like how I think my dog is a human in a dog’s body), but I hoped you learned more about Lake and his wit and sense of humor. Click the link below to order Lake’s book so you can get lost and love it, too!