Q&A with Chris Vick 
author of teen and young adult books
Kook and Storms

Chris Vick author of teen and young adult books Kook and Storms

Chris Vick is author of YA novels Kook and Storms and forthcoming Girl.Boy.Sea ( August ’19). He was shortlisted for the Premio Andersen award, which recognises young people’s literature in Italy. 

Writing Teen and Young Adult Books: Can you tell us how old you were when you started writing?

I honestly can’t remember. I’ve written since I was child. That said, there were some fairly long gaps, even one of a decade or more! I had this dream that ‘one’ day’ I would be a writer.  Then I woke up, and told myself ‘one day’ might equal ‘never.’ So I started.  I haven’t stopped, and I won’t, till my dying day.

Writing Teen and Young Adult Books: You work for a Dolphin and Whale conservation charity. When do you find time to write as well?

Chris Vick author of teen and young adult books works for a whale and dolphin charity

I have changed my responsibilities with WDC, allowing me to work for them half of the week and to write and do writing workshops and other ‘author-y’ type things the rest of the week.  It’s a bit hectic, but I like the balance. One thing I know about writers is that they find the time to write, even if that means getting up early and/or staying up late and/or making a sacrifice of other parts of their life.

Writing Teen and Young Adult Books:    Is your work in marine conservation a good source of story ideas?

Chris Vick author of teen and young adult books surfing

Yes, as is my love of surfing and of the ocean.  Whales and dolphins feature in one way or another in all of my books. And the ocean, it has been said, is a character in its own right in my stories.

Writing Teen and Young Adult Books:      Can you tell us what inspired Kook and Storms?

Storms was inspired by true events, Kook by my own experience.  It’s not autobiographical as such - so much gets changed in the writing - but some of the events and characters are versions of things that happened to me or people I have known.  The surfing aspect is based on my own experience too, not least the almost drowning!   I didn’t mean for my writing to take the turns it took, I guess my own memories hi-jacked the writing experience.

Chris explains more about Kook in the video below:

Writing Teen and Young Adult Books:      Kook was your debut novel. Had you written any other manuscripts before Kook?

Yes.  A lot of people think a writer writes one MS and that’s the one that gets published.  But in my case, and with most writers I know, that’s not what happens.  Which makes sense if you think about it. Like any craft you have to practise a lot before you get something of any real value or merit.

Writing Teen and Young Adult Books:       How did your MA at Bath Spa help you on your writing journey?

Enormously.  Before the MA I had a lot of agents and publishers seeing the first three chapters of my MS, then asking for full MS. But no offers! So I did the MA, not even to get published (I’d got a bit pessimistic by then), but to help me be the best writer I could be.  Perhaps it’s true that you can’t teach some aspects of writing, but good tutors can help you find your voice and really help you focus on what works in your writing, and how to cut away the chaff.  It was a revelation.  Julia Green and her team are VERY good at what they do. They have helped over 50 writers get published.

Writing Teen and Young Adult Books:       What do you enjoy most about being an author?

Loads.  Things like this.  Seeing a great cover for the first time. Getting emails from readers who really connect with the story. A brilliant and supportive community.  I could go on. But best of all? Those moments when the writing flows.  It’s like that feeling of being lost in a book as a reader, But times 10. Discovering what happens next.  Being surprised by my characters. 

Writing Teen and Young Adult Books:    What’s been the biggest learning curve about being an author?

Learning to trust my instincts and take risks with my writing; going in slightly deeper than I’m comfortable with and seeing what happens. After Storms, the expectation was that I’d stick with contemporary YA, but my agent encouraged me to explore writing and a story that was more mythical and mysterious.  And I did, and – I hope – it worked, with Girl. Boy. Sea

Writing Teen and Young Adult Books:      At the London Book Fair they talked about the importance of promoting yourself as a brand. How much promotion do your publishers do and how much are you expected to do for yourself? 

Social Media Collage

It’s a mix.  School visits, creating a website  and being active on social media is something every author is expected to do.  Reviews, blogs, interviews, festivals etc. are generally something publishers arrange.  It’s important to be up for doing stuff, and, personally, I find it a lot of fun and a change from sitting with my notebook and my imaginary friends.  As an author I also learn a heck of a lot by engaging with promotion and meeting book fans and writing enthusiasts of every hue.

Writing Teen and Young Adult Books:       What are you currently working on?

It’s very early days, but in essence: A tale of the gods, taking human form and of a girl’s quest to answer that age old, Alice in Wonderland question:  ‘Who are you?’

Writing Teen and Young Adult Books:      Do you have any advice for other writers?

Quote from Chris Vick author of teen and young adult books

In some ways I’m loathe to offer advice.  I don’t have enough experience to do that, and besides writers – and the methods that work for them – are so very different.  I can only repeat what was once said to me:

Work out what you want to say (this may take some time), then say it, as clearly as possible.

 Oh, and do take a risk and write the book YOU are passionate about, regardless of market, trends or expectations.

Writing Teen and Young Adult Books:       Our website is called WritingNV.com In the spirit of this can you tell us if there are any writers who make you green with envy?

Loads of them. David Almond, Julia Green and Meg Rosoff seem to have nailed that ‘Looks simple, but beneath the surface…oh, boy!’ thing.

Girl.Boy.Sea - The latest tome from Chris Vick author of teen and young adult books will be released in August

Chris Vick's novel Girl.Boy.Sea will be published in August 2019.

You can follow Chris on TwitterInstagram and his website

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