Interview with Karen McManus
Lekhika Chaudhary sits down with the New York Times Bestselling author at YALC 2017
W!ZARD News AuthorTweet
Karen McManus is the New York Times bestselling author of ‘One Of Us Is Lying’ – the story where five students walk into detention, but only four of them walk out alive.
One of W!ZARD Radio Station’s Electric Voices authors for 2017, Lekhika Chaudhary caught up with her at YALC.
Lekhika: So, I am here with Karen McManus, the author of One of Us is Lying. So, if you could just tell us what the book is about, briefly?
Karen: So, the one line summary of the book is The Breakfast Club with murder. 5 teens from different social groups- brain, jock, princess, criminal and outcast- go into detention together but only 4 of them walk out. The outcast dies in detention and later it comes out that he ran a notorious gossip app and was planning to reveal secrets of the others. When investigators learn that his death wasn’t an accident, the others become suspects.
L: Right, that sounds interesting! So, is this the first young adult novel that you have written?
K: It is the first one that I have published. I wrote two books before I got an agent; I called those my practice books. Everybody has them! This is the 1st that has been published, yes.
L: What advice would you give to young writers who are finding it hard to write creatively?
K: Well, what really helped me was finding critique partners, who were at the same stage of the publication journey as I was. People who were basically clueless; typing ‘how do you write a book’ into Google! I found it transformative to get onto Twitter. I started exchanging work and that really made a huge difference in my writing. I didn’t see the flaws, until someone very kindly and gently pointed them out to me.
L: Also, what made you get into writing in the first place? What was your inspiration?
K: Yeah, I had always loved writing as a kid. I was one of those kids who made my own books and I would illustrate them! When I became a teen, and I tried to write more complicated books, I gave up. It wasn’t until I read the Hunger Games and I was hugely inspired by that book. I loved the voice, the setup, then I decided to write again.
L: And, what would you tell teenagers who struggle with writer’s block? A few tips to get over that and where they can find inspiration from?
K: When I frequently get faced with a writer’s block, I just don’t allow it to happen. I just start typing stuff, it doesn’t matter if it’s terrible and it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make sense. I feel like a blank page can get really intimidating if you let it stay blank for too long.
L: And, how long did it take you to write One of Us is Lying?
K: So, it took me 2 months to draft and 2 months to revise; which is fast! I know a lot of writers take a year to write a book which is totally fine! I just happen to be a fast writer.
L: Right, so patience is the key, especially when it comes to writing!
K: Oh, it really is! I don’t know anybody, I’m sure it happens, who published the very first book they wrote. Most people need time to work on their draft.
L: How do you know what area you go into? A lot of people want to write but they don’t know what niche to get into? How did you know YA would be your area?
K: I wrote what I love, you know. When I had such a strong reaction to the Hunger Games, it made me realise that this was the genre that I would probably enjoy. Then I started to appreciate how creative and varied and dynamic the genre is. I started writing out fantasy. Turns out, fantasy is not for me. I don’t like world building, I’m not good at it. All my people sounded like they were contemporary!
One Of Us Is Lying is available now from all good book stores.