Friday, October 17, 2014

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: H2O (The Rain #1) by Virginia Bergin

Happy Friday! We're really excited to be hosting Virginia Bergin today in celebration of her recent release, H2O. Virginia stopped by to answer some questions about H2O and herself, but before we get to the interview, here's a little bit more about the book and Virginia.

About the Book

Title: H2O (The Rain #1)
Author: Virginia Bergin
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Synopsis: It's in the rain...and just one drop will kill you.

They don't believe it at first. Crowded in Zach's kitchen, Ruby and the rest of the partygoers laugh at Zach's parents' frenzied push to get them all inside as it starts to drizzle. But then the radio comes on with the warning, "It's in the rain! It's fatal, it's contagious, and there's no cure."

Two weeks later, Ruby is alone. Anyone who's been touched by rain or washed their hands with tap water is dead. The only drinkable water is quickly running out. Ruby's only chance for survival is a treacherous hike across the country to find her father-if he's even still alive.

About the Author

Virginia Bergin is the author of the young adult novel, H2O, a story about what happens when a totally ordinary (and utterly unique, because everyone is) teenager finds herself in a global apocalypse. Virginia works as a writer for TV, eLearning and corporate projects. Most recently, she has been working in online education, creating interactive courses for The Open University. She lives in Bristol, England.

In H2O, Virginia crafts a tale of desperation and survival about a world in chaos. Anyone who’s been touched by rain or tap water is dead. With a fascinatingly unique premise, a heroine that takes daunting risks and slim chances of survival, H2O’s fast-paced, unputdownable mystery and emotional survivor’s story will appeal to readers who enjoyed The Fifth Wave and The Hunger Games. 

The Interview!

When did you decide you wanted to become a writer?
I don’t come from the kind of background where people become writers.

I don’t come from that kind of family; I didn’t go to that kind of school. If you’d said you wanted to be a writer, people would have looked at you like you were nuts . . . but you wouldn’t have said it in the first place; the idea that you could do that just did not exist. I LOVED reading and I LOVED writing; all I wanted to do was write stories.

And then came the shock: you couldn’t do creative writing at A-level (the exams you take here at the end of high school to get into university).

The thing I wanted to do most in the world was not available. It did not exist. Writing stories was obviously not an option as a career choice. Writing stories must be a thing only kids did, like skipping or playing hopscotch. Writing stories had no value. That’s how I felt about it - I didn’t know any different - and I was devastated.

I tried to forget all about creative writing and very nearly succeeded. For a long time after that, my own life didn’t fit me. Then one day at art college, we were set a creative writing exercise. I cried! And I remembered: THIS is what I love.

I’ve done . . . probably about a hundred voluntary and paid jobs, from working in a pub (and learning to call last orders in Welsh) to interviewing multi-million pound fund managers, from weeding flowerbeds to creating online courses for the study of environmental ethics. You name it, I’ve done it. All the while, I wrote poetry, short stories (tons of them!), film and TV scripts, a play. (And a not-very-good novel I’ve recently ‘recycled’.) I got short-listed for things; I never won. I did tons of writing courses, joined lots of writing groups. All I did was write, always on the quest for that perfect ‘pays-well-but-leaves-me-enough-time-and-brain-space-to-write’ job to fund the writing.

I never found it. H2O happened because I had enough cash to get through three months without having to take on other work. I could FOCUS. I poured out the first draft in 10 weeks - like Ruby would; manically, desperately. I didn’t have much time and it had to be written; Ruby demanded it.

It is a happy ending, I hope, because H2O found a home at Sourcebooks - but mine is not a route to writing that I would recommend . . . well, maybe just a little bit. For a long time, I felt like I couldn’t possibly call myself a writer; it felt too pretentious and puffed up – even though that’s what I spent most of my life doing. I felt like I couldn’t possibly be good enough to get published: not clever enough, didn’t have the right education, wasn’t from the ‘right’ background (whatever that is). Still, I kept going . . . because writing is like that; it’s a compulsion. If it’s what you’re supposed to be doing, you won’t be able to stop anyway . . . but you might hesitate. I hesitated for 10 years. It has taken nearly another 20 years to get published.

Writing is a kind of freedom. It costs hardly anything, you can do it anywhere and it can take you any place you want to go . . . on paper - but if you imagine it hard enough you’ll forget the paper is even there.

What’s not to like?!

What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
Even I’m not writing, I find myself thinking about writing. Listening to other people and experiencing other people’s worlds is really important if you want to write.

The big things that interest me are:

1. Stories . . . I care not where they come from, not even what they’re about – what I want to write and what I look for in other people’s writing is a great, compelling story I can completely lose myself in. I love stories.

2. Inequality and injustice. Yeah, I haven’t changed. It might be for all the wrong reasons, but bad stuff going on really bothers me. A LOT. It got me into trouble at school and it’s carried on getting me into trouble from time-to-time . . . I find it really hard to keep my mouth shut when something I think is unfair is happening, but I’ve learned to channel that – by writing stories about things that bother me instead.

3. A pretty line. I’m a sucker for lovely words. 

What are some of your favorite disaster/survival stories?
Speaking of being a sucker for lovely words… I adore Cormac McCarthy, author of THE ROAD. He writes so gorgeously he makes me read really scary, horrible, dreadful – really dreadful - stuff I would never, ever want to read and don’t even want to think about . . . because I LOVE the way he writes. It’s exquisitely beautiful. I love the way a combination of words can make your knees melt, your heart sing and your brain explode with utter delight.

What inspired you to write a book about water that can kill you?
H2O started off as an attempt at a Hollywood blockbuster film script I wrote in 2007.

I have no idea where the original idea of a killer in the rain came from, but it’s very likely I saw something in New Scientist magazine – a friend gives me a big bundle of his old copies once a year and it’s an amazing place to look for ideas and inspiration.

Unfortunately, my blockbuster script lacked heart. The central character – a young woman in her 20s – was one-dimensional. I didn’t like her much. I shelved it. Then, in 2012, a 15-year old girl gave me a copy of THE HUNGER GAMES, telling me she thought it was brilliant. I thought it was brilliant too – though I was very shocked about the central concept. If young people can handle reading this, I thought, I think I’ve got a great scary story to tell . . .

I remembered the books I’d read when I was young. I zipped through the sci-fi section at the local library. Loved that stuff… but I don’t remember a girl heroine in any of those books. I wanted to write a sci-fi story with a kick-ass girl at the heart of it...

. . . but I didn’t want to tell a big Hollywood story with heroes and villains, I wanted to tell it from the point-of-view of a totally ordinary girl, who finds her own inner kick-ass self, in her own way. I wanted readers to easily be able to imagine being Ruby – or at least imagine knowing her – and to imagine what they’d do in that sort of situation. That’s why there’s very little description of what Ruby really looks like (and even less description of Darius); it’s up to the reader to see their own Ruby.

If you were to describe Ruby in three words, what would they be?

Funny, good-hearted, braver*.

*than she knows (the asterisk lets me cheat the word count, right?)

Which author, living or dead, would you love to spend an evening with?
If I say Cormac McCarthy, I’m condemning myself to an evening of canned pears and peaches, aren’t I…

What was the last book you read and loved?
A YA novel I finished recently is RED INK by Julie Mayhew (Candlewick are the US publishers, though I don’t think it’s out in the States yet). It’s about a girl called Melon (she hates her name, and not just because she’s hit puberty all too noticeably for her liking); her mother has just died in a car crash, and slowly the story Melon has grown up with all her life about her childhood and her mother’s life in Crete starts to unravel. It’s so sensitively and beautifully written – gorgeous.

Thank you to Virginia for taking the time to answer our questions, and thanks to you for stopping by! Be on the lookout for our reviews of H2O in the near future!

--Ashley & Paul

No comments:

Post a Comment