I was a teacher before almost losing my sense of humour (and mind) and deciding I needed to devote myself to the thing I loved most - writing. I became a full-time television scriptwriter for children, entered a nationwide scriptwriting competition and was selected to be on the writing team of a popular South African soap. I also worked as an advertising copywriter, wrote radio ads and jingles, educational textbooks and readers...anything to keep the wolf from the door. Basically, I’m constantly writing, books and TV scripts and if not that then plotting, planning and scheming how to take over the world. In 2000 I embarked on a new journey, crossing the galaxy to settle on a new planet or as some like to call it 'Immigration', and am now a proud possessor of a maroon Intergalactic Wayfarer Permit and have come to love the aliens I mix with daily.
Brief synopsis of your book:
All teenage girls keep secrets and Kerry Johnston is no exception. More than anyone else she knows how to lie, for ‘Kerry’ is an alias and her life is a nightmare of secrecy, violence and fear. In reality this overweight, limping teenage girl is Qea, a Forbidden child from the Qarntaz Octad, sent to Earth to hide from the warlord she has betrayed.
Qea (Pronounced Kee-ah) is a girl with an unusual history. She comes from a distant galaxy where warlords rule and corruption is rife, so she must become hard to survive, but here on Earth a young man will change her heart and her life.
A dark force is coming. Following on from the epic first novel, Blue Dust: Forbidden, Katy Krump's Blue Dust: Destiny continues the saga of Qea, a fugitive renegade whose mission it is to free the oppressed children of the Qarntaz Octad. This book explores Qea's back story and has some startling revelations about her personal life as well as exploring even more of the fantastical Blue Dust Universe.
As Adam and Qea get separated, Qea is forced into befriending some of the fearsome otherworldly tribes that inhabit The Octad. Together with a mysterious hooded boy, they face a new, rising evil, finding themselves imprisoned in the imposing "Citadel", a place made almost entirely of glass, which brainwashes the captive children to carry out the will of the sinister Primax. forever, but this puts everything at risk.
Blue Dust: Forbidden
Blue Dust: Destiny
Blue Dust: Drippy Face
Current book or project you’re working on:
Blue Dust: Insurrection, the third and final book in the Blue Dust trilogy.
What was the inspiration for your novel?
My own experiences of being an ‘alien’ inspired Blue Dust. I emigrated to the UK from South Africa in 2000 and found it very difficult, so I started a blog about relocating to another planet, as that’s what it felt like to me. That then morphed into a book and Blue Dust: Forbidden was born.
Please share three interesting facts about your book which are not covered in the synopsis.
1) The colours and landscapes of the Qarntaz Octad.
2) I’ve hidden the names of my family in the story – a little ‘kiss’ for each of them.
3) Some of the action is based on the child soldiers of Africa.
Who is the most complex character from your current novel?
It has to be Qea, who is very complex, but also the evil Primax, and the discovery of why he became who he is now.
Are there any characters in your book that remind you of yourself?
I think there are tiny pieces of me in most of the characters. I’d like to say I’m like Qea, but she’s a lot braver than I am.
If you could pick any well known or famous author to review your book who would you pick and why?
Jules Verne, because he introduced me to the science fiction genre and I was enthralled by his stories, especially 20 000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Mysterious Island.
What genre does your book fall into?
Science fiction and fantasy for Young Adults and teenagers.
What is the first book you remember reading, that affected how you thought or felt about something?
There are so many, but 20 000 Leagues Under the Sea really made me aware of the possibilities in books and inspired my love of science fiction and fantasy.
Which three authors have inspired you the most, and why?
1) Enid Blyton – her mystery stories intrigued me, and the thought that children could be ‘smarter’ than the adults, was an aspect I loved. I know she’s not in fashion much, but her books were true escapism for me.
2) Jane Austen – the quality of the writing and the romance with a twist inspired me…although I have wasted a lot of time trying to find my own Mr Darcy…
3) Jules Verne – he made me realise that I could make up my own stories and that a story didn’t have to be ‘real’. I could use my imagination and write whatever I wanted.
Have you ever read a book you couldn’t finish reading?
Many! If I’m not hooked by the second or third chapter, I seldom read further. And also when the text is tiny…am I showing my age?
Do you read a book, while you are writing a book?
Always, and often more than one at a time. In the run up to starting writing a new book, I read voraciously across many genres. I find this inspires me. I’ll often see an unusual word that I’ll then use in my own work too.
How many books have you written? Which book is your favourite and why?
I’ve written four full length books including two Blue Dust books and Drippy Face, a children’s fantasy, which I think is my favourite. I spent a long time developing the world of the Krusterati and I absolutely love all the wacky characters. With Drippy Face I let my imagination run wild and I loved that abandoned feeling when anything is possible and I got to play ‘God’ with the characters and environment. I’ve also written a political thriller When Killers Cry, inspired by my childhood in apartheid South Africa.
Is there anything that helps get you in the mood to write?
Rainy days, dark nights, mist, a good film or book all inspire me. As a full time author I have to be in the mood every day, so I make sure that I sit down and write every day, even if it’s only a few sentences.
What were three challenges you faced when writing your book?
1) For my first two books, I found writing without having a publisher and knowing that I could very well be ‘writing into a void’ if no one wanted to publish it, a challenge.
2) Having a publisher waiting for book two and worrying that it wouldn’t be as good as the first one was oddly difficult. Despite having signed a contract, I still worried that the second and third books wouldn’t live up to expectations.
3) A strange challenge, but I suffer bad back pain and have repetitive stress injury in my arms, and this is a huge challenge for my writing as I have to write in spurts.
What lessons have you learned as an aspiring writer?
Never give up. Get a good editor. Believe in yourself and your writing unless everyone tells you your writing is rubbish (if they do take some classes and try to improve). Never let your family or friends read your work because they will seldom tell you the truth. Take advice from good editors and other people that know what they’re talking about. It’s hard work, even when you’re published traditionally. Everyone thinks they’re the new JK Rowling but very few are. Social media takes up a lot of time.
Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so what helps you to ‘overcome’?
So far I haven’t. I take inspiration from everything around me so if I get a bit stuck I’ll go for a walk or swim, read a book or watch some television, and during this I’ll be mulling things over in my mind.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned, either in the self-publishing or traditional publisher, route?
Never give up if you believe you have a story to tell. It’s very hard work and there is a LOT of competition to get a book noticed. The author has to put in a lot of time doing the social media and publicity thing, even when traditionally published.
How long does it usually take for you to complete a book?
It takes about six months to get the story down, then another eight months or so to edit, rewrite, edit, rewrite… I’m never happy because I want my book to be the best it can be before submitting it. I also spend a few months thrashing it out ‘in my head’ before sitting down to write – and of course I do research too, and this can take many months, so probably a year to 18 months in total. Each book is different. My first book took 25 years…
Do you have any ideas for your book and Hollywood? Actors, directors, music.
Of course! I’m aiming for Stephen Spielberg or George Lucas. For the cast, Soairse Ronin for Qea, Liam Hemsworth for Adam, Arnold Vosloo for Ximbala (he was The Mummy and is also South African) also Shia Le Boeuf for Balzar, directed by Gavin Hood (he’s a South African who directs scifi- can you see a theme here?) and music by any hotshot composer…something written by Gary Barlow and sung by Leona Lewis perhaps.
Which book to movie conversion is your favourite?
Films adapted from books can be disappointing, but I think The Hunger Games was done well and is my current favourite.
Do you watch a lot of science fiction or fantasy movies?
All the time.
Do you study science, the planets, history or anything special to help you with your writing?
I do a lot of research when writing a book. I find Professor Google particularly helpful and timesaving.
What, who, and when were you first inspired you to write?
I clearly remember standing next to my teacher’s desk when I was six years old and the ‘penny dropped’ with reading and I understood how words on a page worked. Putting words together and learning how to write a sentence and then a paragraph and finally a story, were huge milestones for me. I always told myself stories in my head and putting them onto a page was awesome. I remember telling my dad I was going to ‘write a book’ when I was about eight. I sat at his old green typewriter and wrote a very bad book about an otter. I had a couple of truly inspirational teachers at school who ‘got me’ and my weird sense of humour and they encouraged me to write – there were a couple that didn’t get me at all and were very cruel – I chose to ignore them, and a good thing too.
Drink – mango juice and Earl grey tea
Food – roast chicken and potatoes
Vacation – Croatia, Portugal and France
TV show – Star Trek, Fringe, NCIS, Downton Abbey
Movie – The Sound of Music, The Shawshank Redemption, Avatar,
Animal – Cat
Sport – swimming
Book – 20 000 Leagues under The Sea, Little Women,
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Where can readers find your book?