An Interview with Kevin Brooks!
Today we’ve got the pleasure of welcoming author Kevin Brooks to ThirstforFiction! Kevin has written quite a few YA novels including iBoy , ranging in tones and styles and stories. Read our review of his latest novel, Naked.
ThirstforFiction: First off, if you’d like to tell our readers a little about Naked and some of your other novels?
Kevin Brooks: Most of my novels are about real people, real lives … the real world. They’re usually quite dark, sometimes quite sad, and (hopefully) quite thought-provoking. But they’re also, in another sense, adventure stories – stories that make you want to keep on reading.
Naked tells the story of a girl called Lili who plays in a punk band in 1976. It’s about the band, the music, her life, her loves … it’s about chaos and beauty, life and death, truth and lies … it’s about whatever you want it to be about.
T4F: You’ve written quite a few books now, and one of the things I’ve noticed is the variety of styles you create- from Lucas, which is very dreamy to iBoy, a gritty thriller and now Naked- a dark, grungy novel. What is it that draws you to the different styles and genres and ideas?
Kevin: I just like to keep trying different things. There are so many ways to tell a story, so many different styles and approaches, and they all offer both the writer and the reader different ways of looking at the world.
T4F: Do you prefer a single style (obviously, first person- which is what most, if not all your books are written in) and where do you come up with the ideas?
Kevin: I have written outside the first-person narrative, and I often use other forms within that narrative, but first-person for me is the most natural way to write. However, the style of the first-person narrative changes all the time, depending as it does on the narrator, so in a way it’s never actually the same style.
I get ideas from everywhere, anywhere, and sometimes even nowhere.
T4F: Were there any “eureka” moments in the development of any of your novels?
Kevin: Yes, definitely, and sometimes these “eureka” moments can be the key to the whole novel. But 95% of the actual writing of a book is just simple hard work, hours and hours of writing, every single day, and lots and lots of thinking. If all you ever did was wait for the muse to strike, you’d never get anything done.
T4F: Lili and Curtis’ band Naked, the namesake of the book, write songs (Naked, Heaven Hill…) and snippets of these quoted throughout the novel. Did you write these songs just for the book or did they exist before you started writing- and if they did, how did they come about?
Kevin: I spent many years playing in bands and writing and recording my own songs, and I used some of these old songs in Naked, but others I made up especially for the book.
T4F: Naked is set in the 70s- and you were a teenager during that era. Is a lot of Naked based or inspired by your attempts to become a rock star during those very formative years of your life?
Kevin: Yes. I don’t usually write books that relate directly to my own youth, but with Naked I did base some of the ideas/themes/descriptions on my own personal experience.
T4F: Obviously, you’ve researched locations and bands such as the Sex Pistols. Have you tried to make Naked historically accurate, or did you just write with the aim of recreating the time and fictionalising the whole thing?
Kevin: Most of the gigs, events, bands, etc are historically accurate, as are most of the times and places mentioned in the book, but I’ve obviously had to take some liberties with the facts in order to fit Lili’s band into those times and places.
T4F: What is your favourite book you have written to date?
Kevin: That’s like asking a parent which of their children they like best! It’s unanswerable.
T4F: And now for some general questions: when you write, do you think of the people who read your books, or do you just write something you enjoy?
Kevin: I never have a target reader in mind. I don’t write for a particular age group, or gender, or type … I just write the book. For me, it would be untruthful to do otherwise.
T4F: Is there a particular reason you write for teenagers and young adults? Have you ever considered other age groups?
Kevin: I actually write for “adults” as well now (my first adult book – A Dance of Ghosts – was published in March this year), but I don’t really think there’s much difference between books about young people and books about older people. They’re all just people to me. I certainly don’t write any differently when I’m writing for adults. It’s just a different kind of voice.
T4F: How do you make the characters who they are- do they all have elements of yourself in them, or is there a method to it?
Kevin: It’s impossible not to include some elements of yourself in a character, but I always try to create characters who are individuals in their own right. As to how I do that …? The honest answer is, I’m not entirely sure. I just kind of put them somewhere inside my head, leave them there for a while, and something happens to them. They grow, evolve, they become something. And then they tell me how to write their story.
T4F: What is the most enjoyable part of writing a novel?
Kevin: All of it.
T4F: And Finally, I’m assuming you’re working on a new novel. And details we can pry from you?!
Kevin: It’s very, very dark. And that’s all I’m willing to say!
As always, a thankyou must go to Kevin himself for agreeing to take part in this interview!