Good morning, thank you for taking the time to talk to us about your amazing book series.
Finding Sky started your six book series about savants and their abilities. As she started on a voyage of self discovery. What gave you the first ideas for this book series?
The idea came from watching my daughter fall in love with the Twilight series. She got stuck in a ‘Twilight loop’, circling back to read the first part when she finished the fourth. I tried to tempt her to move on to other books but she wanted something paranormal and romantic. I decided the best way to satisfy that was to write it myself. I knew she would like the high school America theme, and the idea of ESP, so Finding Sky was the result.
Strange people and their powers/ soul mates. There are so many young adult books on themes like these and yet you always manage to keep your books fresh and original in their ideas. How do you manage this?
That’s kind of you to say so. The idea of soul mates is obviously as old as the hills, but I wanted it to carry the additional sense that the relationship would complete the two people’s gifts and make them more powerful (and hopefully happier) – that is the narrative drive, the reason the reader is willing them to get over the obstacles. I purposely avoided some of the patterns in other series, particularly the love triangle, which you get both in Twilight and The Hunger Games (these were the two big YA series at time of writing). That meant I chose instead to find new drama by moving to a new hero and heroine with each part, and that I think helped keep it fresh.
Did you ever expect when you wrote the first book that the series would grow to cover so many books, and be the huge success it has been? Heading you into best seller’s territory.
Not at all. I’ve had other best sellers writing as Julia Golding, but this was my first Joss Stirling book and I had no idea that it was going to strike a chord. I think much of that is down to the chemistry between Zed and Sky – they ease the way for the others that follow.
You go into very serious matters with Sky’s abandonment, Summer’s abusive mother, Crystal and Hal being thought of as just no bodies in their families before finding out they are actually the most important people you could imagine. Angel being sexually forced upon. Bringing positive vibes to teens who just haven’t found their place in the world yet. As well as those going through a difficult home life. How important is it to you that these messages are brought to our youth in a way they can understand them without being over bearing?
And don’t forget Summer, who is a young carer shouldering massive responsibility, something that many readers will be experiencing. The books are obviously a fantasy with the ESP element but that doesn’t mean that fantasy can’t offer both escape and empowerment. You learn to look at real problems in what I hope is a careful and constructive light, often going to the message that you need others when you are struggling alone. Don’t cut yourself off.
You brought out a series of free e book shorts showing back ground of some of the characters. Such as Xav, a personal favourite of mine. Can we expect any more of these in the future?
I’ll have to see. I do this for free so they get squeezed in between other projects.
With so many named savants in your books still looking for soul mates, would you consider writing a second series covering more of these storylines?
If I can think of an angle that would keep it fresh, then yes.
Who has been your favourite character of the book series to work with?
Secret favourite is Angel but only because she reminds me of my daughter (there are definite borrowings from real life!) and she makes me laugh. I do love all my characters though. Kinda my favourite too, as that was the first book I read!
Who inspires your writing?
You’ve probably guessed it – my daughter. She’s now 20 but during her teens these books were written for her.
Do you have certain play lists of music that help you focus on writing? If so, which artists do you listen to?
Yes, I make playlists for each book, focused on the two main characters. They are a shortcut to understanding what makes the hero/heroine tick. The tracks are contemporary usually, so there is a lot of Adele, Ed Sheeran, Imagine Dragons, Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, and One Republic.
Where would you like your writing to go from here?
The next book due out is Scorched (April 2017), last part in the young detectives series that started with Struck. That book won Romantic Novel of the Year 2015 so do try it if you haven’t got to it yet. After that, I’m not sure what my next Joss Stirling will be – possibly an adult thriller or maybe another YA book. It won’t be until 2018. Working on the Struck series next :)
What advise would you give to young adults who could be facing some of the darker themes of your books?
What I mentioned above – do not try to manage alone, seek help, remember the good stuff really does exist when the bad stuff seems to be overwhelming.
Do you have any events coming up or signings?
I’m not sure yet of my appearances at festivals next year but I am travelling as usual round the country to schools so look out for me if I come your way.
Thank you very much for your time.
You can follow all the updates of new books on Joss's website:
Sarah Beth James