What made you want to be a writer?
I've always loved words, I've always loved books, I've always loved thinking about things and making something out of those thoughts. But, beyond that, I think that the underlying desire (or need) to be a writer is just something that's there, inside you, and that's what makes you write.
Why did you settle on Young Adult novels?
I'd tried other kinds of novels – for adults, for younger children – and although they worked, to a certain extent, it wasn't until I started writing about young people that I really felt comfortable with what I was doing. It just seemed to feel right.
When I start a new novel I usually have a number of themes in my mind, and as the book progresses other ideas begin to evolve. With Black Rabbit Summer, the question about why some people are seen as more important than others was one of the original themes I wanted to look at, but it also developed a lot more as I was writing the book.
Why did you decide to keep Raymond in the background for the second half of the novel?
I wanted his presence – and his absence – to grow in Pete's mind. So although he isn't physically there, he actually becomes more meaningful to Pete. And, hopefully, to us too.
Why is it important for you to leave certain elements unanswered?
To me, a good story is one that stays alive in your head after you've closed the book. And I just think that if everything gets wrapped up at the end, if we know what happens to everyone, then it makes it more difficult for the story to carry on being alive.
Do you plan to continue with Raymond? He’s a fascinating character.
No, I don't think so. I like to keep trying different things – different characters, different stories, different ideas. Also, sequels can sometimes take something away from the original story, and I wouldn't want that to happen to any of my books. But, then again – who knows ...? Maybe one day I'll change my mind.
The element of danger, and Pete putting himself in danger is prevalent throughout the book. What was the most dangerous/irresponsible thing you did as a teenager?
I did so many dangerous/irresponsible things as a teenager ... just thinking about it now gives me nightmares. But I think it's probably best if I keep these memories to myself.
Now that Black Rabbit Summer is being described as a crossover novel, do you have any plans to do something specifically for the adult market?
I've been working on and off for the last ten years or so on a novel that's specifically for the adult market. I'm hoping to finish it off some time in the next couple of years, probably after my next Young Adult book.
Do you think Young Adult books are marketed correctly, ie, having them as part of the children’s section, rather than part of the adult section of a bookshop?
I visit the USA every year, touring and promoting my books, and I've noticed that in most of the bigger book stores the Young Adult section is completely separate from both the Children's section and the Adult section. It's on its own, usually somewhere near the CDs/DVDs or the coffee place, and as well as having loads of YA fiction there's also loads of non-fiction that might appeal to teenagers.
I think this is the way it should be.
Writing is a lonely occupation – what do you do to break up the time between?
I've always enjoyed being on my own, so the loneliness aspect isn't something that bothers me. I like it! In fact, I spend quite a lot of my non-writing time on my own too. I walk my dogs, I potter around doing nothing. I play my guitar. I watch TV. I sleep ... all the usual kind of stuff.
Is there anything you dislike about being a writer?
No, it's the best thing in the world.
You clearly have a love of crime fiction, and it’s nice to see a crime novel without a renegade cop at the centre – do you plan to continue in this vein?
Yes, I've always loved crime fiction, and although I don't think that my books are crime fiction as such, they all have an element of crime in them. I can't say for sure that I'll continue in this vein, but I think it's probably quite likely.
What makes you angry?
Not much, really. Most of the time I can't be bothered.
Where are you happiest?
Here, in my room, sitting at my computer, writing stuff.
Thanks to Kevin Brooks and interviewer Colin Mulhern