Category Archives: Interview

‘Frankfurt book of the Fair’ author, C.J. Daugherty, talks to us about NIGHT SCHOOL

C.J. Daugherty, author of the hottest Young Adult début at the Frankfurt book fair 2011, is here to talk about her international success so far.  NIGHT SCHOOL, the first in a series, was published in the UK by Atom / Little, Brown in January to great critical acclaim.  

Rights have already been bought by 17 different publishers who will each produce their own edition.  NIGHT SCHOOL will be published in the US next summer, and foreign editions will be published both this year and next.  Having worked for Frommer’s Travel Guides, Christi is now a fulltime fiction writer.  She gives us an exclusive insight into her life as a writer and her reaction to the international success of NIGHT SCHOOL so far.



At the Frankfurt Book Fair 2011, NIGHT SCHOOL was the hottest Young Adult book pitched to publishers around the world, and translation rights were bought by 17 different foreign publishers.  How does it make you feel to have so many editions of your book?

I’ve always dreamed of this, so to have it actually happen is thrilling! The first translations are being published now – so, aside from the UK and Commonwealth countries, Night School is only out so far in Spain and France, but I’ve seen the advance covers for the editions in The Netherlands and Germany, and they look gorgeous.

Why do you think NIGHT SCHOOL has this international appeal?

I suppose there are two things. First, the timeless attraction of the British boarding school. This is always fascinating, especially to those of us who attended ordinary state schools. It seems extraordinary to go away from home so early and be put into the care of strangers. It’s so far from most people’s experiences that we become fascinated by it. There’s a mixture of romance and terror to it.

Then there’s the idea of trust — which is universal. My main character, Allie, discovers she’s been lied to by her family and friends, and so loses her ability to trust anyone. She begins to wonder if she can tell the difference between a truth and a lie. Anybody who’s ever been betrayed by someone they trusted knows what that feels like. It’s like the ground shifts beneath your feet, and just for a second you wonder if there’s any honesty in the world. I think we can all relate to that.

Who is your favourite foreign publisher?

NO! Don’t make me pick. I love them ALL.

Are your books published simultaneously around the world?

Each publisher has its own publication date based on its own publishing schedule that they think is most likely to ensure that buyers will discover the book. As I’m a debut writer without name recognition, this is very important. So it comes out at different times in different countries. Book 2 in the series will be out in the UK before Book 1 comes out in the US, for example.

NIGHT SCHOOL is published by Atom in the UK and yet the US edition is going to be published by HarperCollins in the US in 2013 – do they have different visions for your book?

I wouldn’t say their visions are very different, but we did do a separate edit for the US market. This was mostly to Americanise it a bit, so that words and phrases that are too ‘English’ don’t confuse readers. For example, Americans don’t use the word ‘skip’ to refer to a garbage container at a building site. And the word ‘jumper’ means ‘child’s dress’ in the US but ‘sweater’ in the UK.  Beyond that we made a few minor structural changes — the start of the book is shorter in the US than in the UK. But in all other ways it’s the same book.

Does each foreign publisher organise the translations of the manuscript themselves?

Yes they do, and so far, I’m very happy with them!  Agents choose foreign publishers for their clients in part based on their reputation for producing quality translations. So to that extent, we then rely on the publishers to translate the book well. A few translators working on my book have been in touch to make sure they’re getting certain words just right, and I love that attention to detail!  There’s no German word for ‘summer house’ for example, so I sent the translator photos of summer houses so she could know which German word to use. Slang and colloquialisms have to be changed to the local equivalent as well. The translators I’ve worked with have been super diligent. And I admire them tremendously! The intricate language knowledge you need to translate an entire book is incredible.

What do you feel about the different foreign covers and interpretations for your book?

I love discovering each publisher’s take on Night School! The Dutch cover is somehow delicate and gives the impression of vulnerability. The German cover is very mysterious and classic. The American cover is still being designed but so far it looks thrilling! And the UK, Spain and French covers — which are the same — highlight Allie’s anger and wounded soul beautifully. I can’t wait to see the rest.

Does each foreign publisher use the same title?

Most of them are using ‘Night School’. But in some cases they can’t. Sometimes the phrase doesn’t have the same meaning when translated into a particular language. Sometimes there’s another book with the same title coming out at the same time. The Dutch publisher translated the title as ‘Society of the Night’. The Polish title will be ‘The Chosen Ones’.

Do you enjoy publicity events and signings? 

I do enjoy them — I love meeting readers because I’m one myself!  Events can be amazing — I firmly believe that people who like Night School are the loveliest, funniest people you’ll ever meet. So getting a chance to talk with them in person is always brilliant. But I’m careful not to do too many because I think you can end up running from one event to another, and suddenly find you don’t have any time to write. And taking long, luxuriant time to write is the best part of being a writer!

How important is your website and social media in getting new readers?

It’s so important to have a web presence. It’s the modern telephone. Through Twitter, Facebook and my blog I talk every single day with readers and book bloggers. It not only allows them to keep up with me, but it’s a two-way street — it allows me to keep up with THEM, which is just as important. I want to know the latest books out there, and the hot new writers. And at the same time, I want to be able to show off the new covers for the book, let people know where I’ll be signing, and just generally gab about the weather when I’m procrastinating. Procrastination is the mother-in-law of writing, you know.

Which books influenced you when writing this series?

I am always influenced by Cassandra Clare — her Mortal Instruments series combines the thriller and romance genres so skilfully. I also very much liked the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. And, of course, Twilight. But I was, if anything, more influenced by TV series. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a big influence on me,  as was Firefly (so, basically, anything by Joss Whedon) and the Gilmore Girls. The teenagers I know are irreverent and funny, and I want my books to reflect that. Whedon and Amy Sherman-Palladino (who made Gilmore Girls) are writers as well as directors and producers, and they both always get that tone just right.

How many hours a day do you spend writing?

I probably spend five hours of an average day just sitting at the table writing.

How much time do you spend on self-promotion?

About the same amount. About four to five hours. I usually spend the morning answering email, tweeting, updating my blog or Facebook page. And answering questionnaires like this one!   I spend afternoons and early evenings writing and revising.

How long do you have to write the second book in the series?

The first draft of the second book is completed and I’m now working on the first revision. Writing it took about four and a half months. Revising it will probably take a couple of months. I expect it to be fully complete by the end of July.

How many more books are you writing in the NIGHT SCHOOL series?

I envision the full series as five books.

Can you give us a hint about what happens next?

First of all *THIS ANSWER CONTAINS SPOILERS* So if you haven’t finished reading Night School stop now and skip to the next question!

Allie has a lot to process at the end of Book 1. She’s found out that her family are not who she thought they were, and she knows her mother lied to her. In Book 2 she will learn who the mysterious Lucinda is. She’ll find out why Nathaniel is after her, and she’ll learn more about what happened to her brother, Christopher. She’ll also see Night School from the inside, and this could change how she feels about it. Most importantly, she will get stronger. And, since knowledge is power, she’ll be better able to take care of her herself. She’s tired of being rescued.

Do you feel that YA fiction will continue to be as popular and have the same crossover appeal as series such as TWILIGHT and THE HUNGER GAMES?

Absolutely. I feel that Twilight opened the Pandora’s box of YA, and now it will not be closed again. People — not just young people, but adults, too — are buying these books in droves, so I cannot imagine publishers ever stopping. I think the attraction of YA goes beyond the obvious books-geared-at-teens thing. I think YA is attractive because it is an area in which publishers allow — even encourage — writers to bust traditional genres.  I’m relishing the freedom YA gives me to take chances with my characters. To write thrilling chase scenes and violent fights, and hot-and-heavy love scenes.

Where can I buy my copy of NIGHT SCHOOL? 

My website has links to all the online book stores:

You can buy it here

And here:


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Happy Publication Day: Agent Buston interviews Carrie Duffy

Congratulations to Carrie Duffy on the official publication of her debut novel IDOLHarperCollins publish on the 18th August and have secured fantastic promotional slots, including W H Smith retail, W H Smith travel, Asda and Amazon.  

Carrie read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Trinity College, Oxford, before training as an actress.  IDOL is her sizzling first novel set around the pop sensation Jenna Jonnson and the talented dancer Sadie Laine yearning to get her big break.  Carrie has kindly let me interview her about her route to publication.

Are you excited about your debut novel coming out? Yes, very! I’m also quite nervous too – having lived with it for so long, it’s now going to be out there for people to read and not everyone is going to like it! But I’ve had some early blogger reviews which have been really positive, and each one boosts my confidence a little more. So much has happened over the last year, and publication is the culmination of that – I can’t wait to see what happens next!

How long did it take you to write? I started the initial draft of IDOL about ten years ago! It’s been through many changes since, and during that time I would put it to one side, ignore it for a while, then pick up and re-draft all over again – I couldn’t quite let it go! So it’s very difficult to say how long, but the final version probably came together in a few months.

 Why did you decide to write in this genre?  I love this genre! I read Career Girls by Louise Bagshawe when I was sixteen, and have been hooked ever since. I like to think I have fairly broad reading tastes, but I love the glamour and escapism of bonkbusters – they’re so much fun!

Have you always written? Yes, ever since I was tiny. I can remember being about six and writing little stories on my Dad’s BBC Acorn computer! I flirted with the idea of journalism for a while, but eventually decided not to pursue it. I think I was always more interested in writing books than articles.

How did you choose your agent?  How long did it take?  I’d been trying to find an agent for years, and would go through a cycle of sending material out, getting rejections, writing something new… What I liked about Darley Anderson was that they were so open to commercial work – there was no snobbery about only taking literary material. I also liked the fact that they made a distinction between chick-lit, bonkbusters, sagas etc., rather than lumping it all in under women’s fiction.

How much self-promotion are you having to do? I’m dipping my toes into the water, and getting quite into Twitter (@cazduffy if anyone wants to follow me!) My website is almost finished, and I’ll have a blog on there which I’m strangely excited about.

I think self-promotion can make a huge difference these days, as there are so many bloggers and review sites out there, and the potential to connect with people is incredible. That said, it doesn’t always come naturally to me – there are times when I’d rather stay in my own little world and just concentrate on the writing – but I’m learning.

What are your favourite authors?  My favourite ever author is George Orwell – I’ve read pretty much everything by him and re-read regularly. I also enjoy writers such as Philippa Gregory, Kate Atkinson, Sebastian Faulks and Paullina Simons. In this genre, I love Louise Bagshawe, Tilly Bagshawe, Lesley Lokko and Tasmina Perry.

Do you ever get writer’s block?  Not really – I have days where it doesn’t flow as easily as other days, but I rarely sit staring at the screen with no clue of what to write. I always have lots of ideas.

What follows IDOL?  I’ve just finished my second novel, DIVA, which should be out next summer. It’s set in Paris, in the world of fashion, and follows the story of three women – Dionne, an aspiring model; CeCe, who’s determined to make it as a designer; and Alyson, who has little interest in the industry but ends up being sucked in! I think it has a slightly more mature and expansive feel than IDOL, but hopefully it’s just as fast-paced, glamorous and sexy!

Do you have any advice for new writers out there? It’s been said so many times, but perseverance. It’s taken me around ten years to get to this stage, so that certainly applies to me! I think if all I’d received was outright rejections then I might have given up, but because I did get some interest (positive feedback, invitations to send more of the manuscript) I knew I wasn’t writing complete rubbish. It just took a while for that perfect combination of right manuscript and right agent – but it was definitely worth the wait!

To read a copy of this sensational, escapist read click here.

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Agent Buston interviews Victoria Fox

Known as the sexiest writer in the business, Victoria Fox is the author of the fabulous HOLLYWOOD SINNERS, following the lives of four celebrity couples around Hollywood, Vegas and London.  Since MIRA published in  April 2011, Victoria has become a bit of a celebrity herself, from appearing on  The Vanessa Show in May,  building a huge online presence,  to her photo shoot on the red carpet

What does it feel like being a published author?  Vertigo. A nice sort of vertigo. Knowing the book is ‘out there’ for anyone to pick up is exciting but it’s also strange; it’s gone now, you’ve let it go, but still it’s a massive part of your life and a family of characters and storylines you’ve worked long and hard over. So, a bit dizzying. But every bit as wonderful as I’d hoped it would be.

 Why did you decide to write in such a commercial genre?  First, because I love those early bonkbusters, so full of style and swagger, and wanted to try my hand at one of my own; second, because I used to work in commercial publishing and felt I knew the market; and third, because the dream is to become a bestseller and I’d like to appeal to as many readers as possible.

 Who is the author you would most compare your work to and who are your favourite authors?  My writing style for Hollywood Sinners definitely draws on my biggest inspiration in the genre: Jackie Collins. Books like Lovers and Gamblers and Chances are packed with outrageous characters and wicked storylines – and they also have this great comedy element which is crucial to a truly entertaining bonkbuster. As well as Jackie, my favourite authors in the genre are Tilly Bagshawe and J J Salem. Favourites elsewhere are Rose Tremain, John Fowles and David Nicholls.

 How long did it take you to write your debut?  Hollywood Sinners took four months to write and two to edit.

 Can you pitch your book in one line?  A sexy, scandalous, full-throttle ride through the hidden lives of the rich and famous.

 How long did it take you to find an agent?  While working in publishing I put together a partial manuscript and sent it anonymously to the Darley Anderson Agency – they were always the big dream. I made sure my pitch was tailored to their list and tried to couch my project in commercial terms, explaining where I saw it in the market, which authors I hoped to sit alongside and so on. I was lucky: very kindly, they didn’t make me wait too long!

 Were you pleased with your book jacket?  Extremely pleased. Jubilant. I knew my publishers ‘got’ the book, the kind of retro vibe I was going for but also the up-to-date celebrity glamour, so I was confident they’d nail it. Even so, when the jpeg landed in my inbox it was even better than I’d hoped. It’s one of the most stylish covers I’ve seen in a long time.

 Do you do a lot of self-promotion?  It’s important to promote as much as possible. The market is very competitive and things like radio, TV and magazine interviews are crucial so I try to do as many of these as I can. Everything’s going online now and it’s good to be as ‘reachable’ as possible: your own website, Facebook and Twitter are great ways to make contact with readers. Hearing from readers is the best thing.

 Have you always wanted to write?  Yes. After university I wanted to work as an editor and immerse myself in other people’s books for a while, but the bug soon caught up with me. If you have it in you, it’ll always be there.

 What tips would you give to new writers out there?  Persevere. Everyone says it but that’s because it’s true. Persevere with your book, see it through to the end (no matter what state you imagine it’s in) then persevere getting it read. There are people who say they’re going to write a book and people who actually write one – decide which you are.

To buy a copy of HOLLYWOOD SINNERS, click on the cover below.  Thank you Victoria!

A juicy tale of glamour, corruption and ambition. -Jo Rees – author of Platinum

A glorious, sexy story of high-octane Hollywood intrigue – I loved it. -Lulu Taylor

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The creator of Jack Reacher

Our bestselling thriller writer, Lee Child, is awarded an honorary degree from De Montfort University in Leicester.  Watch fabulous coverage here, including his advice to students: ‘read now, read 10,000 books then start writing’ and, it’s never too late for the rest of us: ‘You’re looking at a guy who was 40 years old before he figured out what he was supposed to do’.

Lee has just won the 2011 Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year Award for his 14th instalment, 61 Hours, in his bestselling Jack Reacher series.  Lee’s books have sold more than 50m copies worldwide, and we have sold translation rights in more than 40 languages.

If you’d like to join my Jack Reacher Recruits group on facebook, click here!

My advice to new writers – create a great character.  Lee has done it with Jack Reacher.   Think James Bond, Harry Potter, all the great superheroes and  all the characters in Shakespeare and Dickens…

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Agent Buston interviews bestselling author, Debby Holt

Debby Holt is a bestselling author of popular women’s fiction, published by Simon & Schuster in the UK.   Her bestselling books have extremely striking titles including The Ex-Wife’s Survival Guide, Annie May’s Black Book, The Trouble with Marriage, Love Affairs for Grown-Ups, Recipe for Scandal, and Friends, Lies and Alibis. It has taken a huge amount of talent, perseverance and drive to get where she is today.  She is married with five children and lives in Bath.

When was your first book published and how long did it take you to find an agent?   My first book, The Ex-Wife’s Survival Guide, was published in 2006. It took me an eternity to find an agent, or rather it took me two years – a very long two years! I’d sold a lot of short stories in the previous decade and in fact my first novel grew from a short story that was far too complicated to BE a short story.

How did you decide what ‘genre’ to write?    I didn’t actively choose to write in a particular genre: basically, I liked to write about relationships in a way that was sometimes humorous and apparently this meant that I was a chick lit writer!  I think what I find frustrating is that I AM regarded as a chick lit writer whereas I am just as interested in, say, familial relationships as I am in romantic ones and I genuinely think my books are suited to readers of all ages

Have you always liked your book jackets?  I think Sarah Gibb who has designed all my covers is brilliant but I worry that they might deter people over thirty from buying them.

Did you ever go to ‘writing school’?   I never went to writing school but I feel I did my apprenticeship in the years I wrote short stories for magazines.

Who are your favourite authors?  I have always read voraciously and my favourite authors are Anne Tyler, Georgette Heyer, Carol Shields, Ann Patchett, Zadie Smith, Nick Hornby and David Nicholls.

What are your three top tips to getting published?  My three top tips to getting published are to 1) visit conferences or festivals where you can meet agents, 2) make sure you have a superb first chapter and three-line précis and 3) don’t be put off by rejection. To quote Calvin Coolidge, “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.”

Can you pitch your latest book in one line?   My latest book, Friends, Lies and Alibis is based on a difficult dilemma: is it ever right to try to break up a friend’s marriage?

Thank you, Debby!  To buy Debby’s latest bestseller, click on the jacket below:

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