Claire Hennessy was born in Ireland in 1986. She is the Author of nine young adult books and Started writing her first book when she was in Primary School at the tender age of 12. She continued writing all through secondary school and collage, where she attended Trinity Collage. She lives in Dublin where she Writes and teaches creative writing. In 2009 she co-founded the Big Smoke Writing Factory, which do classes and workshops within Dublin. She so kindly took some time out to do an interview with me.
With book sales experiencing a slump across a wide range of genres, YA sales appear to be holding their own. What are your feelings on the health of YA writing compared to, say, ten years ago?
One of the things I’ve noticed is that teenagers, especially older teens, are more likely to be okay with reading YA – I think ten years ago there was still a sense for many people, especially enthusiastic readers, that you read ‘teen fiction’ in your early teens but then very quickly moved on to ‘real’ grown-up books. The field has definitely expanded – there’s always been a range of amazing books published as YA, but I think we’re seeing more per year, and more of those books being noticed by readers.
What kind of books attracted you as a teenager?
I read a lot of the writers for young people I still read today, like Jacqueline Wilson, Laurie Halse Anderson, Sarah Dessen, Meg Cabot, Judy Blume, and Ann M Martin. Some other favourites that stay with me: ‘This Place Has No Atmosphere’ by Paula Danziger and ‘The Perks of Being A Wallflower’ by Stephen Chbosky. I first got into some of my favourite ‘grown up’ writers like Tom Perrotta, Michael Chabon, and Emma Donoghue when in my teens. I read a lot of ‘chick lit’ or women’s fiction, whatever sweeping generalization you want to use, especially Irish writers like Patricia Scanlan, Cathy Kelly, Sarah Webb, Martina Reilly, Denise Deegan and (of course) Marian Keyes. I loved Douglas Adams’s ‘The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, Philip K Dick’s ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ and George Orwell’s ‘1984’. And I reread Enid Blyton’s ‘Malory Towers’ and ‘St Clare’s’ school stories, something which I continue to do!
Did you always want to be a writer or did you picture yourself doing anything else?
I’ve always wanted to write but I’ve also tried to make sure I’ve done other things as well, whether that’s study or work. I think I’d enjoy writing less if it was the only job I had – when I know I absolutely have to do something it starts seeming less appealing!
Do you also think you will keep write for Ya or do you think you might write for adults one day?
I love young adult fiction – I think it’s a really interesting field to work and play in, and most of the ideas I get fit well with teenage characters. I’d like to write for adults one day too, but it’d always be alongside continuing to write for teens.
A lot of Authors have come out and said they enjoy listening to certain music while they write or create a new character. Do you listen to music while writing? What would be on your play list at the moment?
I occasionally listen to music while writing or sometimes when developing a novel, but not as a rule – I know some people use it really effectively but for me it can be distracting.
What are you reading right now?
I’m in the middle of too many books! ‘The Chocolate War’ by Robert Cormier, one of those ‘classic’ YA novels I’d never got around to reading. ‘Unbearable Lightness’ by Portia di Rossi, which is a memoir of her struggle with anorexia. Michael Grant’s ‘Gone’, the first book about what happens in a small town when everyone over fifteen disappears. Paul Murray’s ‘Skippy Dies’, which is a wryly observed boarding-school novel. Michele Gorman’s ‘Single in the City’, a fish-out-of-water tale about an American woman in London.
And Lastly Do you have a new book due out soon and if so can you tell us a little bit about it?
I’m working on a project at the moment but it’s still in the early stages – I’m always wary about saying too much too early on!