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Caroline Clough Author Interview

Posted on 23/02/2011 in Book of the Month Caroline Clough Red Fever

Just in case you missed the author interview with Caroline Clough about her first book Red Fever, which won the Kelpies Prize in August last year, here it is again.

Q. How did you feel when Red Fever won the Kelpies Prize 2010?
Caroline Clough [CC]: I felt amazing! It is a wonderful feeling for a writer to write a book that other people love and want to read. It was lovely on the night the Kelpies Prize was awarded to have all my supportive friends around me, hugging me and telling me well done! My big brother even came up from London to be there and it was lovely to see how proud he was of me! I was still in shock the next day when I went to Floris Books and saw the amazing job they had done on the book and the cover – the reality of writing a real book came home then.

Q. When did you decide you wanted to be an author?
CC: I knew I wanted to be an author from a very young age. I have always loved reading and when I was a child I read lots and lots of books. I used to spend a lot of time making up fantasy worlds and inventing characters in my head – I even used to speak to them out loud! Whenever I was waiting for a bus, or walking home from school I would make up stories to keep me from being bored.

Q. How do you come up with all the ideas in Red Fever?
CC: I have always been fascinated by the thought of a post-apocalyptic world – where things that we take for granted will have gone. Once I had that world in my head I then asked myself the question — ‘What if?’

My ideas for the dogs were based on my knowledge of dog behaviour. As an animal behaviourist who treated problem dogs and cats, I knew that if there were few people left then all the dogs left would soon run wild and form packs. Then I asked myself ‘what if these dogs were genetically altered by the virus and became more intelligent?’ My ideas for the landscape of deserted oil platforms and harbours full of trashed boats came from knowing the area of Aberdeenshire, where I live and where the book is set, so well. To this dramatic setting I needed to add more danger — pirates! They came about from listening to a news story about Somalian pirates kidnapping oil tankers!

Q. How did it take you to write Red Fever?
CC: It took me ten days to write Red Fever. I set myself a target of 4,000 words per day and I even had time to take a day off! After four days I wrote myself into a bit of a hole and decided that a day off would give me fresh inspiration so I went to my singing and drama lessons instead. I found once I had the story in my head I didn’t have any trouble getting it down. My characters led me along their journey.

Q. Who is your favourite character in Red Fever?
CC: Toby is my favourite character, though closely followed by his little sister Sylvie. Even when he is really scared, Toby finds it within himself to be brave, and he is a very loving big brother to Sylvie even though he sometimes feels quite jealous of her. Sylvie is so sweet and very amusing at times.

Q. What was your favourite book and who was your favourite author when you were a child?
CC: I have always been animal mad and as a child was fanatical about ponies. My favourite book without a shadow of doubt would be Jill’s Gymkhana by Ruby Ferguson.

Q. Do you have any hobbies apart from writing?
CC: I have horses and so spend lot of time looking after them. I have four just now and I take part in competitions with one of them – Henry! I breed show ponies too. I also take drama and singing lessons which fill me with inspiration.

Q. What would you be if you weren’t an author?
CC: I don’t want to be anything else now as I just love writing stories, but if I had to be something else I would love to be a film director so that I could use my imagination and bring stories to life for an audience.

Q. The wild dogs and pirates in Red Fever are quite frightening. Were you ever scared when you were writing the book?
CC: Yes! There were times when the story seemed to be going places I thought were too scary! I was very worried about Toby and Jamie when they set off for Aberdeen. But every time I got into a dangerous situation, Toby seemed to be able to cope: he always managed to get out of danger without it seeming too fantastical.

Q. Do you like dogs in real life?
CC: I love dogs. We have always had a dog. At the moment I have a big black Labrador called Sooty which is the silliest dog you’d ever want to meet. She does lots of tricks and can tell the difference between asked to fetch a ball, a stick or a toy! She is not in the least scary. She is very like Belle in Red Fever, who is loyal and protective of Jamie but still very gentle.

Q. Red Fever is your first book. Will you write any more?
CC: I am already writing the sequel to Red Fever because I so loved writing the first book and felt there are so many more adventures for my characters to have, in this strange new world I have invented.

Thanks, Caroline!

Posted by: Chani at Discover Kelpies