It’s a real pleasure today to be joining the blog tour for We Other by Sue Bentley, published in paperback on 28th April last year, and now for kindle on 6th June (available for preorder – Amazon UK and US). I’ve been aware of Sue’s writing and her support for other authors via social media for some considerable time, but I’ve always seen her as a writer of children’s fiction, which I rarely feature here on Being Anne – but this one looks really interesting, and very, very different.
Family secrets, changelings, and fairies you never want to meet on a dark night.
Jess Morgan’s life has always been chaotic.
When a startling new reality cannot be denied, it’s clear that everything she believed about herself is a lie. She is linked to a world where humans – ‘hot-bloods’ – are disposable entertainment. Life on a run-down estate – her single mum’s alcoholism and violent boyfriend – become the least of Jess’s worries.
I’m delighted to welcome Sue as my guest, to tell us more…
We Other looks like a real departure from the world of Magic Kitten and Magic Bunny. Tell me more about why you decided to take your writing in this new direction.
Definitely. It’s not so much that I’ve taken a completely new direction in writing, as I’m returning to my first love. At the start of my career I wrote only for adults and completed some very bad, unpublishable novels. I worked hard to become a better writer. The opportunity came to write for ages 5-9 years and I found I could do it. I learned a lot in the process.We Other is classified as YA, but many of my readers are adults – as I think is the case with a lot of similar titles. Teenagers are more grown-up and sophisticated than I was at their age! A sign of the times.
I’ve seen it described as dark fantasy, an adult fairytale, paranormal romance, a psychological thriller. All those things, or is there a description you prefer?
Yes, it has elements of all those things. Which makes it difficult to classify as one genre. Booksellers like to place books and authors in specific categories. I understand that, as it makes it easier for readers to choose a title they’ll enjoy. If I had to pin down We Other, I’d say, ‘An artful re-working of the fairy tale tradition with a love story at its cruel heart.’ I think that covers it!
When you were writing, did you have a reader in your mind? Were they exclusively “teen plus”, or did you always want it to appeal to an adult audience too?
When I’m writing I don’t have a particular reader in mind. I write primarily for myself. I write the kind of fiction which I love reading. We Other is classified ‘Teen Plus’ mainly because Jess is 18 years old. But the themes I explore in this book appeal to other age groups. Loneliness, bullying, addiction, not fitting in, finding that nothing is as you thought it was – these things affect us all.
We Other was the book of choice for a YA book group in a local library. I really enjoyed visiting them and discussing the book with people who were familiar with the story and characters. As I said above, lots of adults have also read the book and given it great reviews. I’m delighted when anyone reads and enjoys it. It’s wonderful for an author to have such varied feedback.
I noticed that the paperback has been available since April of last year, but the ebook release over a year later. Was that deliberate, or just the way things worked out?
Yes, you’re right. I’ve have liked the book to be available in e-book a few months after the paperback, but it didn’t happen. There were issues with my original publisher and we’ve now parted amicably. I’m really looking forward to working with my vibrant new digital publisher and bringing We Other to the wider readership it deserves. I’ll hang out the bunting and have a party when the e-book is launched!
Planning, writing, editing, getting ready for launch – what’s your favourite part of the whole process? And what’s the most difficult?
First and foremost it has to be the writing. I do a lot of planning before I start. My job is to produce the best book I can. When it’s going well, I enjoy it. Other times it’s like pulling teeth. I’m a perfectionist, but I can tell when a scene is 90% right. Even then, the publisher will want re-writes. There’ll be edits too, sometimes lots of them. And copy edits before the book is ready for publication. When I see a cover proof, I finally believe the book is going to be sprung onto the world. Then I can relax a little. But there’s promoting to be done before the launch and I’m usually planning the next book, if I’m not already at work on it! I enjoy working to a deadline. I find it harder to stick to my writing routine when I have no publisher waiting for it.
And how about you, the writer. Was this the book you always wanted to write?
Yes, We Other is the book I’ve always wanted to write. It’s informed by all the things I enjoy – nature, wildlife, folklore, fairies and the unexpected which is hidden within the everyday. Most of my fiction has some element of things being somewhat off-kilter. I’m also a sometime artist, and I’m inspired by visuals, particularly Victorian Fairy paintings.
And how do you write? What’s a typical writing day?
I work best in the morning. I generally don’t bother with breakfast, but drink tea endlessly. When my energy’s flagging, I’ll stop and save or print out the day’s work. Then have lunch and maybe go for a walk. I get lots of ideas when walking in nature. In the afternoon, I’ll attend to writing business, emails, arranging or promoting author events, connecting with fans on social media etc.
What writers do you particularly admire? If someone said “your writing reminds me of…”, who would you like them to mention?
If someone said my writing reminded them of Holly Black I’d be delighted. I love her fairy fiction. If I was compared to France Hardinge, Melissa Albert, Michel Faber or Carol Birch – I’d be over the moon. I enjoy all of their work.
And now I’d really like to know about your next book… already in progress?
I’ve just finished a first draft of Second Skin, a large scale fantasy novel – completely different to We Other. It’s about what happens when two races collide – one race are conquering shape-shifters, the others are the indigenous people of a suppressed continent. Second Skin asks, ‘What does love look like?’ The book gets very dark in places. Lots of challenges for my characters to overcome. I’m also in the early planning stages at of Scar You – a sequel to We Other. It’s going to be very busy year.
Thanks so much for hosting me on the We Other blog tour. I enjoyed your questions.
And I enjoyed your answers, Sue – wishing you every success!
With thanks to Sue and tour organiser Rachel’s Random Resources, I’m delighted to feature a giveaway – the chance to win a signed copy of We Other and a personal letter (open internationally).
Terms and Conditions –
Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then the giveaway organiser reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
About the author
Sue Bentley discovered a love of books at an early age. She worked for Northamptonshire Libraries for many years, while teaching herself the craft of writing. She is the author of the worldwide bestselling Magic Kitten, Magic Puppy, Magic Ponies, Magic Bunny series for age 5-9 years. She also writes for children and adults under various pen names. A lover of English Folklore, her books often contain elements of the otherworld and the darkness within the everyday. Her books have been translated into around 20 languages. We Other is her first book for Young Adults.