Interview with Christina Courtenay – Author of New England Rocks

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I am delighted to welcome Christina Courtenay to Bookbabblers as our August Author in Residence. I am a big fan of Christina’s writing and was excited to see that she had a young adult novel coming out. New England Rocks is published today and we will be reviewing it here next week.

Please tell us a little about yourself
I’m half English and half Swedish, and lived in Sweden until I was 16. I then moved to Tokyo, Japan, with my family, where I attended an American high school for three years before going back to Sweden to study modern languages at uni (I speak Swedish, rusty French and Spanish, and a little bit of German). I love books, chocolate and dogs, and my interests include history, genealogy and archaeology.

Please tell us about New England Rocks and your inspiration for the book New England Rocks is a contemporary YA romance with a UK/US culture clash – the British heroine has to attend an American high school for a year as punishment for getting herself expelled from her posh UK boarding school. As I mentioned, I went to an American school myself and I’ve kept in touch with the friends I made then. Recently, we had a reunion and that made me think back to my high school years and how things could have been different if I’d been more confident about myself. This made a story take shape in my mind and New England Rocks was the result. The heroine is the girl I wish I’d been and the hero is the sort of boy I would have loved to date.

New England Rocks is your first young adult title. How did you find writing for a young adult audience compared to an adult reader?
It was great fun and very liberating! I just unleashed my inner teenager – I’m pretty sure all adults have one of those – and wrote the kind of book I would have liked to read when I was in my teens. At the same time it was a bit scary though as I won’t know if I’ve got it right until my new audience gives me feedback. Fingers crossed!

What are you working on now?
I’ve just finished two books and sent them off to my publisher – one is the sequel to New England Rocks, so another YA contemporary, and the other is the third book in a historical romance trilogy for adult readers. I’m giving myself a bit of a break at the moment to recharge my batteries, but after that I’ll be doing edits for my next novel, The Secret Kiss of Darkness, a time slip novel for adults to be published in February 2014.

What was your favourite childhood book?
I was totally hooked on Enid Blyton’s the Famous Five series (and all her other books too actually). I still have all twenty-one of them, although in Swedish as that’s where I lived. And I named my first dog Timmy after the dog in the book :-)

What do you like to do outside of writing?
Walk my dogs, go to the movies (and eat lots of salty popcorn), do creative things like painting (the DIY kind) and sewing, and I’ve also recently discovered I love gardening even though I’m rubbish at it. I enjoy going to museums, especially if there are ancient treasures on display, and visiting old houses, castles and ruins. I really like baking too, although I try not to do that too often as I’ll just eat what I make much too quickly. And I love to read, of course – I couldn’t live without books!

Thanks Christina!

We have a signed copy of New England Rocks to giveaway with a book mark and mobile phone charm. The giveaway is open to UK residents only and closes on 31st August 2013. To enter, please re-tweet this post or leave a comment below.