I’m very happy to be hosting Jo Treggiari on the Shelf today for a stop on her whirlwind “Plague and Pestilence” Blog Tour in celebration of her fab new dystopian YA novel, Ashes, Ashes.
What was it like taking yourself to such a dark place every time you sat down to write? Did you have a happy-making antidote to all that post-apocalyptic intensity?
It was hard. I submerge myself so deeply into the story when I’m writing it, that it affects my real life. I almost have panic attacks. My antidotes are long walks with my husband, play time with my kids who always make me laugh, and lots of chocolate and red wine.
Why do you think this genre is so appealing to so many readers?
I actually was surprised when the whole dystopian/post apocalyptic genre exploded. I wrote Ashes, Ashes a couple of years ago and it was still all about sexy vampires at that time. I think that people are always looking ahead, worrying about the future. Post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction takes those fears and maximizes them, gives us the worst case scenario. Maybe the situations we face don’t seem so bad in comparison. Or maybe we just enjoy fictional disasters on a massive scale.
If you had to choose 5 things (ideas / books / objects / topics / people) that have most inspired your writing, what would you choose?
*Books. There are so many that have inspired me. Even the bad ones teach me something about writing. My favorites include A Wizard of Earthsea, The Golden Compass, The Hobbit, Howl’s Moving Castle, The Hunger Games, Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver, The Wind Singer by William Nicholson, & The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud. But there are many, many more.
*My friends are a huge inspiration. I have the best friends in the world.
*I think a lot about morality, the difficulty of making choices especially when they affect others, bravery, being a good person.
*Travel has been a huge inspiration. I’d love to be involved in global student exchange programs. I think so many problems arise when people don’t have a world-view and aren’t exposed to other cultures.
*It’s a toss-up between art and nature. But they’re sort of the same thing, aren’t they? Mother Nature just does it better.
I used to work at a great bookstore, and one favourite topic of conversation was: “What special and essential skill could you offer if you lived in a post-apocalyptic community?” (Mine was baking cookies, by the way, because we all know there would be chocolate chips after the apocalypse, right?) So, what would be yours?
I trained as a boxer for 5 years and I know how to drop a big man with one punch. Also I know how to skin a rabbit.
What is something you learned through writing this novel (about writing, about the world, about surviving the end of the world…)?
I learned that the most important rule of writing is to get your butt in the chair. There is no secret trick to writing a book. You have to show up and you have to work. And then you have to revise and revise and revise and….
If you had to choose a motto to guide you in your writing journey, what would it be and why?
I used to have a post-it above my desk which said “Trust the little voice”. That’s the voice that whispers to me to keep going when all the louder voices are telling me that I suck and to give up.
Of all the ways the world could end – and I’m sure you’ve spent time imagining many of them – what way frightens you the most?
Now that is a cheery way to end an interview! Thanks for being here Jo.
Ashes, Ashes is published by Scholastic.