I am talking to Joseph Evans this time who grew up in an industrial port city (Cardiff) in the UK, which was where he got his main inspiration for Skyfall City, and where he attended a struggling inner city school. He didn't read much at all when he was young, but he always loved films and even more so video games. It was Chris Wooding's Broken Sky series that got him into reading at the age of fifteen, because they had manga illustrated covers, and Joseph loves anime. The series turned out to be absolutely amazing, and he couldn't get enough of them. As soon as he started reading, he wanted to write too, and create his own worlds. Joseph started writing a novel straight away, at fifteen, but he didn't plan it properly and it kind of fell apart when he got stuck halfway through.
Books & Writing: At what point in your life did you decide to become a writer?
Joseph Evans: I did a degree in motion graphics, which I still love doing, but when I got out of university I really struggled to find freelance work in the area, so I decided to try writing a novel again. When I started planning it, I knew this wasn't going to just be a hobby, I knew that this would become the next part of my life. It felt so natural to me and so fulfilling that I was determined to make this my career.
Books & Writing: What got you interested in writing fiction?
Joseph Evans: Mainly it was when I started reading that series, Broken Sky, but even before that, I was being inspired very much by the wonderful storytelling in some video games. In 1997 I got a copy of Final Fantasy VII for Christmas and it was the most life changing video game ever, mainly because of its story. I still believe to this day that the story that game tells is one of the greatest ever told. There is a lot of inspiration from Final Fantasy VII in my book, and anyone that's played the game and read City of the Falling Sky will probably see the similarities, so I guess my interest in coming up with my own stories stems back to then, even though I wasn't writing them down at the time.
Books & Writing: How did you come up with the story for “City of the Falling Sky” (The Seckry Sequence Book 1)?
Joseph Evans: I sat down with a notepad and a pen and I strategically started planning out all the twists that would occur in the timeline. This was even before inventing any of the characters. My favourite stories have lots of twists, and so I knew this would be the most important thing. Then it took me another six months to fully plan out City of the Falling Sky and a fair bit of the overall structure of the five book sequence. It seems quite a cold, logical process, but I knew it was necessary if I wanted a strong, coherent structure, and I think it paid off! In terms of the more inspired parts of the creative process, one of the first images I came up with was a boy digging for worms in the midst of an industrial city. I think the reason for this was that me and my sisters used to do this here in Cardiff. My dad used to dig for worms for a living - they were lugworms and ragworms which he would have trays full of to sell to fishermen as bait, and me and my sisters would often help him.
Books & Writing: Can you tell us a little bit about the book?
Joseph Evans: It's a story that follows fourteen year old Seckry Sevenstars as he moves from a quiet village to the bustling nearby Skyfall City. Whilst there, he starts school, makes new friends, and finds a girl with no memory cowering in a science research building. Seckry and the girl make it there business to find out who she is and what she was doing there, but what they start uncovering puts them in very grave danger.
Books & Writing: Is there a reason why you chose to write it for Young Adults?
Joseph Evans: You know what? Possibly because of my late start with reading, I have never grown out of young adult books! I am 26 years old now and I still feel like all the teen books I read are geared towards me! I read adult novels here and there now and again, but I often feel like they are geared towards someone more intelligent or literary than me and they have a hard time keeping my attention. So basically, the reason I write young adult books is because those are the books I love to read myself.
Books & Writing: Are you working on Book 2 at the moment? And if so, when is it coming out?
Joseph Evans: Yes! Book 2 is on its way. I'm writing it at the moment, and I hope to have it released this year sometime, as quick as I can get it finished. I don't want to keep my new fans waiting too long as I left a tiny bit of a cliffhanger at the end of book 1! Anyone that's interested in my progress with book 2 can 'like' The Seckry Sequence on Facebook, that's where I'll be posting updates.
Books & Writing: Which writer, or writers are your biggest inspiration?
Joseph Evans: As mentioned earlier, Chris Wooding was a huge inspiration to me with Broken Sky. Nowadays he tends to write mainly adult fantasy, which I've begun reading, but I don't feel the same way about. Aside from this it has to be J.K. Rowling. It seems like an obvious choice, but there is no denying it. I took a huge amount of inspiration from Harry Potter, because the first three are the most unashamedly enjoyable books I have ever read.
Books & Writing: What is the last book you read?
Joseph Evans: It was Spud by John van der Ruit, and it was absolutely hilarious! He really captures the chaos of being a teenage boy in school, and every page seemed to burst at the seams with funny insights.
Books & Writing: Where can people find you on the internet?
Joseph Evans: Here's The Seckry Sequence official webpage: http://www.theseckrysequence.com/
My Twitter page: http://twitter.com/JosephCEvans
And the Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/theseckrysequence
Books & Writing: Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Joseph Evans: Yes, the first advice I would give any new writer is to plan everything beforehand. Sit down and fill a notebook with every aspect of your plot, because it is so much easier this way. You will hardly ever have writer's block, and your story should end up with no plot holes. The best advice I can give to writers who have already written a novel is; never take anyone's advice unless more than one person says exactly the same thing. The reason for this is that the one thing that one person will tell you they hate and should be removed from your book, will be the one thing that somebody else will absolutely love about it. You will never please everybody. If more than one person gives you the same feedback, then look into it, but otherwise, ignore it, because you will butcher your writing to pieces otherwise, and in the end it will be a mess.
And below is an excerpt from the book!
A Familiar Symbol
On Seckramas morning Seckry woke to find Eiya standing at the bedroom window.
“Seckry, it’s so beautiful!” she said, gleaming.
Seckry got up and joined her.
Outside, Skyfall was covered in a blanket of pure white snow, glistening in the cold, winter sun.
The monorail whizzed past, sending a flurry of flakes and a wet spray across the sky. The square below was alive with people setting up a long sturdy table and placing heat lamps all around it.
“Merry Seckramas, loves!” called Seckry’s mum from the kitchen. “Can you kids give me a hand taking this food down there?”
As soon as Seckry opened the bedroom door, a rich smell of cooking butter and stew filled the room.
After a quick shower each they began hauling Coralle’s concoctions down into the open square. It took them three trips up and down the stairs carrying the dishes to the great table, though Leena complained that her back was hurting and let the others carry her last pot of casserole. They were clapped a few times by the neighbours as they were bringing down the food and Coralle even got a cheer as she plonked her huge ellonberry pie down with a thud.
“Well done mum,” Seckry said, staring at her array with awe. He wondered where on earth all the cooking pots, dishes and ladles had come from and was sure the cupboards weren’t even big enough to have been storing them all.
Over the next half hour, the table filled up with more and more dishes from the people of the square and by the time everyone was ready to eat, it was brimming with mounds of steaming food, and the square was filled with the most wonderful smell of meat, spices, and exotic vegetables.