By Fully Booked Staff
If you don’t know who Patrick Ness is, chances are you don’t read much Young Adult.
Or find magic and wonder in things that creep in the night.
Or revel in eerie and strange experiences (coupled by alienation and loneliness).
Fully Booked chats with the bestselling, multi-awarded author of The Knife of Letting Go, Chaos Walking Trilogy, and A Monster Calls on his much anticipated new novel, The Rest of Us Just Live Here.
FB: First off, we loved that you put the spotlight on “the rest of us.” It was refreshing to see a story focus on the un-Chosen Ones. What inspired you to tell this kind of story?
PATRICK NESS: I think the Chosen One narrative is very, very powerful; it helps explain very well that feeling when you’re just starting out as a teenager, when you feel so isolated and alone. It says that it’s okay that you feel that way, that you have power you’ll discover, that you’ll have tribes you discover, that this is the beginning of a new you. But later, you start to feel less chosen. And I began to wonder what that person’s story was like. I didn’t think I’d ever be a chosen one, but what if you lived in their town? What would that be like?
You squeezed in the action-packed scenes at the beginning of each chapter, a sort of overview of what’s happening in the big picture. Did you have that story all planned out when you started writing the book?
PN: I wrote them at the same time. Both had to work (no cheating!), so it was a really fun challenge. Let me tell a few jokes.
We can easily tell who the indie kids are in stories, especially in Young Adult. But in real life, without the paranormal drama, what do you think makes an indie kid? How do you spot one?
PN: I’d never want to demonise ANY indie kid. You find out in the story that, even though they’re always the heroes, they’ve got a pretty hard time of it, too. Let them get on with their lives in as much peace as they can muster between fighting all the monsters.
Mike, Mel, Henna, and Jared dealt with their own personal monsters, the dark side of life that a lot of books are now addressing. How did you go about writing each of their stories? How do you think this will help teens deal with their own monsters?
PN: I think we’re all dealing with monsters, and in your teenager years, they’re some pretty big ones. I just try to find the truth of each person, whatever that might be. People are complex, teens are complex, and finding a way to get that complexity across is my real aim.
We love Jared, but some of us feel more of a Mike. Which character do you relate to the most? Or had the most fun writing?
PN: They’re kind of all me! It’s that weird thing when you write, you’ve got to be able to identify with everyone – even the awful ones – or they don’t feel human. I’m in every character in there. But probably Mikey the most. A lot of the stuff he goes through is versions of stuff that I went through. I wanted to make sure that reader never felt alone again.
You have quite the collection under your belt—eight novels, a book of short stories, a screenplay. What’s the first thing you’ve ever written?
PN: Probably a story way, way back in grade school. Can’t remember much of it, but there was a lot of blood and guts and despair. As most stories written by kids are. That’s how it should be. You handle it on the page so you can learn how to handle your fear of it in life.
We’ve noticed that some writers need certain things when they write, like choosing the right playlist or having coffee within reach. Do you have any?
PN: I try not to because then they become preventative. “oh, I can’t write if I don’t have that exact angle on my chair.” There are more than enough reason to procrastinate without inventing new ones!
If, in a parallel universe, you weren’t a writer, what would you be? (Could be a different job, or a different species, for that matter.)
PN: A film editor. That was always my second choice job.
You write stories for both teens and adults. What’s the biggest difference in writing for these two audiences?
PN: Not much. Sometimes a general tendency to what the story might be about (discovering your boundaries vs feeling trapped by your boundaries) but mostly not much. There’s room for everyone in any good book.
What’s your favorite book of all time? And what are you reading now?
PN: That would change every day, but let’s Middlemarch, which I love. I’m currently re-reading Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver, which I also love.
You have a LOT of fans here in the Philippines. In fact, one of them already voiced out his hopes of a local signing on our social media pages. Any chance you can swing by in the future?
PN: Maybe! I’ve got a TV show to get through production first.
Speaking of fans, Espie Caruncho posted a wonderful question in our Facebook page: “Where do you find the magic that can only be found in a Ness book?”
PN: If it’s not in the books, then I’ve no idea where to look. I’m as searching as anyone.
Thank you, Patrick! But before you go, we need to identify that you are, in fact, a human being, sir. Can you take a photo of yourself right now for your fans?