Jessica Meat’s debut novel Child of the Hive explores a Britain at war with a deadly organisation and her only hope lies with two specially gifted young adults. A thrilling book and perfect read for anyone looking to escape reality, Reader I Read It questions this up and coming Author.
…about your book
Child of the Hive is your first novel. What initial thought sparked off the idea of the book?
I started with the idea of the character Will. I wanted a young character hiding from two different groups of people. I knew that one of the groups had to be an organisation that would generally be thought of as “the good guys.” From that simple idea, I began working out why things were that way. Why was Will hiding? What had happened to drive him underground? It had to be an emotional conflict and almost immediately, that gave me the character of Drew. Having two characters who used to be so close pitted against each other provides wonderful narrative drama.
The character of Sophie was an idea I’d had for years. I was just waiting for a story to suit her. Thinking about why Sophie behaved as she did was what allowed me to develop the entire background of the Hive.
Your book is set the near future , how easy was it to create and describe the future?
Surprisingly easy. I just thought about the things we have or are developing now and worked them into the story. Some things I wrote into the first draft to show it was the future now exist. Electronic billboards in the London Underground are a perfect example of this. The virtual reality technology Will is working on at the start of the second half of the book is all physically possible now.
If Child of the Hive was adapted to film, who would you like to play main characters Will and Sophie?
I don’t mind but I’d want them to be ordinary-looking. So often in movies and TV shows, everyone is gorgeous. By all means, Drew can be a Hollywood hunk but I’d like the other characters to look like people you could just pass in the street without giving a second glance.
…just for fun
Which book do you wish you could have written?
Harry Potter! Honestly, there’s no author I want to be like or imitate, though I’m certain there are many that influence my writing style. I’d much rather write my own books my way.
You are granted a wish to meet any author, dead or alive. Who would it be and what would be your first question?
Probably Baroness Orczy, who wrote the Scarlett Pimpernel books. I’d ask how much her books are historically accurate and how much she makes up for the sake of a good adventure.
If you were to identify yourself with any character from a novel who would it be?
Lots of bits of me tend to creep into my own characters. In Child, Rachel’s thoughts when she’s trying to get Drew’s attention have elements of me. The moment when Alex fiddles with her watch so much it falls off… I’ve lost track of the number of times that’s happened to me. I don’t think there’s a character in my books or anyone else’s who is like all of me.
After the experience of writing and publishing your debut novel what advice would you give others thinking about writing a book?
Keep trying. Child may be my first published novel but it’s not my first attempt. My first couple of attempts at writing a novel were pretty awful. By the time I got to my fourth book, I had something I wouldn’t be ashamed to show people. Child was my fifth attempt at a novel and it still took three drafts to get it into a suitable shape to send to publishers. I have rejection letters for all three drafts so clearly perseverance is the key.
Did you suffer from writer’s block when writing and if so how did you overcome it?
I think I suffer from the opposite problem. I get an idea for a story and start writing it. Then I get another new, exciting idea so I start writing that. Then I get another idea…I end up with a pile of beginnings but no ends!
Are you working on a second novel?
When I get time! I’ve actually started working on a sequel that focuses on the child who’s referred to in the title of this book and what happens to him when he gets older. I’ve written about 30000 words of the story. The problem was that I was writing it while I was editing Child. I kept getting sent manuscripts from the publisher with the instructions to read it through carefully twice to check for errors and approve any changes. When you read the same book ten times in six months after spending three months preparing it for submission, you want to try doing something new. Whether it’s this book or not, there will definitely be another novel when I can find the time to write it.
Take a look at Jessica’s blog and find out more here