I’m thrilled to have a visitor. The kettle has boiled and the cuppas are poured. A little treat, Sue? Right. Let’s go.
Welcome to my blog Sue.
Thank you so much for inviting me to visit Let’s Have Words. I love reading your blog and seeing your gorgeous photos, so I’m rapt to be here, and particularly glad to start the Pan’s Whisper Blog Tour with you!
When you’re fighting to forget, what would make you remember?
Pan Harris is is brash, loud and damaged. Ordered into foster care, Pan is full of anger at the mother who abandoned her, and the older sister who kept her from her father. Pan is certain that she knows the reality of her past – until she meets Hunter, the boy who understands her story better than anyone else, and who just may be the key to unlocking the truth of Pan’s memories. But are some memories best left forgotten? And is Hunter worth Pan breaking her most important rule – Never. Trust. Anyone.
1. I love the names Pan, Panda etc. When and where from did the title ‘Pan’s Whisper’ come?
Isn’t it a fantastic name? And I love Panda as a nickname. I wish I could claim it was my idea, but three of us came up with Pandora, Claire!
I am completely pathetic at titles. I try so hard, but none of mine work. My publisher, Maryann, editor at the time, Melissa, and I were working on titles when we started talking about how Smocker (more about him with Sue Whiting next week – http://www.suewhiting.blogspot.com/) reminded her of the Greek my about Pandora’s box. From there, one thing led to another and we started playing around with Pandora as a name and for the title. Pan’s name had been Carrie up until then, but Pan works so much better.
2. ‘Pan’s Whisper’ is not your first YA novel. How do you think your writing and/or your writing process has changed since your first published novel?
I think I have become much braver since I wrote my first YA novel, Allie McGregor’s True Colours. I’m able to trust the process more now, mainly because of the relationship I have with my editor and publisher. They are amazing to work with and know I am willing to work and work until the story is right. I used to write a bit, edit that, write a bit more then edit that, mainly because my internal editor wouldn’t stop telling me how much my story sucked. I can now just write – most of the time – and ignore that nagging voice – most of the time. While I write I tend to chant, “just write, edit later”.
3. Do you walk the landscape of your stories before you write? Are they actual places, an amalgam of places, or do you construct them entirely?
I do walk the landscape – with a camera, so if I am ever arrested for stalking, please come bail me out! It’s all for research!
When I was writing Dare You, I hung around Burwood taking pictures of playgrounds, streetscapes and generally getting a feel for the place. Dare You is very much set in Melbourne.
Pan’s Whisper is more of an amalgam of places – Werribee, Geelong, outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Bendigo, Ocean Grove, Port Fairy – rather than based on one particular area. Google Maps is brilliant for checking on details, if needed.
I also trawl real estate websites and piece together about eight different homes to come up with the house layouts.
4. Grandparents have featured before in your novels. How important do you think grandparents are in the lives of their grandchildren?
My grandfather and grandmother had an influence on me. My paternal grandfather visited our farm every morning, so I spent a great deal of time with him. It’s his fault that I love footy so much. While we were together, he would recite nursery rhymes and tell me stories.
My maternal grandmother was an English teacher with a fierce intellect – I missed out on the intellect, but did gain her love of English and reading. (My paternal grandmother and maternal grandfather died before I was born.)
I think grandparents, like aunts and uncles, don’t bear the same weight of responsibility as parents and so more able to spend time with their grandchildren and really listen. That combined with the wisdom of age and experience makes them enormously important.
5. Pan’s strongest rule is ‘Don’t. Trust. Anyone.’ How important do you think trust is for teenagers – for anyone really?
Poor Pan – yep her trust had been crushed. I think trust is important for everyone, especially teenagers. We all need to feel supported and loved and to know that even when we are revolting, that support will be there. Teenager’s lives can be so tumultuous that I believe they need people – friends, family, teachers – they can truly trust to listen and care.
6. How hard and how important is it to make a character like Pan likeable? Particularly at the beginning of the novel when the reader is exposed only to her anger. For me it’s vital that the reader feels for Pan and cares about not only why she is angry, but how she will deal with it. For me, I try to really get inside the character, in this case, Pan’s head, so I fully understand why they are behaving like they are. Knowing where she has come from and how hurt she has been helps me present her sympathetically – I think. Also, I try to show the reader what I know – that Pan is insecure, vulnerable and very hurt.
7. What is your favourite part of writing a novel?
That’s a toughie – I love planning and writing is fantastic, when the words are flowing, when they aren’t, not so much. But if I had to choose, I’d say my favourite stage is editing because that’s when the story truly start to take shape and the characters blossom.
8. What’s next? I’m about to receive the proofs of my next book, a middle fiction novel about RMS Titanic, called Forget Me Notwhich comes out in April 2012 in time for the centenary of the Titanic’s sinking. And once I’ve finished the assignment that’s due next week (I’m studying my masters) I’m working on a new YA book about two teenagers sharing a hospital ward and how they came to be there.
Phew! Great questions, thanks Claire. Tomorrow join me at Emma McCleary’s blog
Radio announcer, teacher, MCG attendant, nightclub DJ, shop assistant, swimming teacher, babysitter… just a few of Sue Lawson’s jobs before she turned a passion for writing into a career. Sue grew up on a farm near Hamilton, Victoria, and after moving all around the state, now lives in Western Victoria, with her husband Bruce, daughter, Courtney and Milly the Cavoodle. Sue continues to teach, write for children and run writing workshops for children and adults.