Hello and welcome to Strange Candy Reviews YA author Rebecca James.
Hello and thank you for having me!
SCR: Rebecca, can you tell us a bit about where you grew up?
My parents moved around quite a lot when I was child so I grew up in several different places in NSW. I lived in Bourke, the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Wellington, Bathurst, Orange and Gosford. I'm not sure about the other places, as I haven't been to them in a while, but whenever I go back to the Northern Beaches I feel perfectly at home.
SCR: What is your favourite holiday spot in Australia?
I love holidaying near the beach but I'm shortly going to be moving to Port Macquarie and imagine that I'll be spending quite a bit of time there so I might start to fancy holidays in the mountains or something….
SCR: Can you tell us a little bit about your book 'Beautiful Malice'?
It's about friendship, betrayal, murder, love and family. It's about not giving up hope when life seems impossible.
SCR: What made you want to write 'Beautiful Malice'?
I wanted, initially, to write about a toxic friendship. But apart from that when I sat down to write I had no idea what was going to happen - it was a real process of discovery!
SCR: I read that your book caused quite a stir when it was submitted. How did that make you feel?
It was a really crazy and unbelievable time. I had so many rejections for Beautiful Malice at first and when I started getting all this positive publisher attention I couldn't quite believe it. At the time I wondered if the world was playing some kind of cruel trick on me…I had to pinch myself daily.
SCR: When you were writing Katherine and Alice, did their personalities ever change much from how you first thought of them?
Alice didn't change much from the way I initially imagined her but Katherine did a bit. In the first drafts I had her being too one-dimensionally nice -- in later drafts I made her more complex and after suggestions from editors I made her relationship and feelings about her sister more realistic, more complicated, less sweet and pure.
SCR: Alice's personality, to me, seems really overbearing. What is it about Alice that Katherine finds so appealing?
She is quite overbearing, isn't she! But then, I think Katherine needs someone strong like Alice to convince her to come out of her shell a little - otherwise Katherine would never meet anyone, never agree to go to a party, never have any fun. And Katherine is vulnerable, traumatised and I think when you're vulnerable you're more likely to make unwise choices...
SCR: Was it ever hard for you to put Katherine's story down, or did it just flow?
I find writing the first draft of any book quite a slow and painful process, so, yes, it was hard in that sense. But I didn't find the more difficult or confronting scenes hard to write, if that's what you mean. In fact I usually find the more emotionally dramatic and extreme scenes easier to write than the quieter ones.
SCR: What was the first thing you did once you were told your book was going to be published?
I rang my partner who was still at work and made a lot of incoherent noise down the phone. I think I may have cried a bit. And then I had several enormous glasses of champagne.
SCR: Do you have a favourite author and genre?
Not really. I like lots of different authors and genres and my favourites change, depending largely on what I'm reading at the time or what I'm in the mood for. This week I've really enjoyed reading Daniel Ducrou's The Byron Journals and Laura Buzo's Good Oil and so right now I'm thinking about those books...
SCR: If you could collaborate with anybody who would it be and why?
I don't know. I've honestly never thought about it and am not even sure if it's something I'd want to do.
Here's some random questions:
SCR: Brad Pitt or George Clooney? George Clooney.
SCR: Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate.
SCR: Sweet or savoury? Savoury.
SCR: Chinese or Italian? Chinese.
Rebecca James was born in Sydney, Australia, in 1970 and grew up in various different places throughout New South Wales, including Bourke, Sydney, Wellington and Bathurst.
During her twenties Rebecca worked as a waitress, an English teacher in both Indonesia and Japan, a bartender, and (most memorably) a mini-cab telephone operator in London. During her thirties Rebecca spent most of her time having babies and helping her partner run a small kitchen business.
Rebecca has started several university degrees but has yet to place any letters after her name. Despite her highly developed procrastinatory skills she has managed to write a book or two and plans to spend her forties, fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties and nineties finishing several more.
Rebecca lives in Australia with her partner and their four sons.
Visit her website and blog for more information.
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