What inspired you to write your first book?
Black City is actually my second book. The first book I queried was a contemporary YA, which sadly didn’t get picked up. But I started writing it because at the time I wasn’t very happy in my career, and realized it was time to stop talking about being an author, and actually do something to make it happen! But the inspiration behind BLACK CITY was Ash. His character just popped into my head one evening, while I was watching a movie, and I became fascinated with this drug-dealing, supernatural boy who got a heartbeat when he met his true love. I knew I had to write a story about him. So the instant the movie finished, I grabbed my laptop and write the first scene!
Do you have a specific writing style?
I think my writing style is fast-paced and visual. I trained as a screenwriter, so that’s definitely bled through into my novels, as I like to write these cinematic set-pieces! Screen Gems recently optioned Black City, so I’m very curious to see how it’s adapted for the big screen.
How did you come up with the title?
My editor actually pitched the title to me, and I loved it. The original title of the book was CRAVING, but marketing very wisely suggested we change it. I’m so pleased we went with BLACK CITY—I now find it hard to believe the book was ever called anything else, as it’s just perfect!
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I don’t like books that try to be overly preachy and ram messages down readers’ throats, so while there are many important themes in BLACK CITY—it deals with racism, political corruption, and drug abuse to name just a few—it’s also a book about first love, kissing, and loads of action! So it really depends what the reader wants to take away from it.
What books have most influenced your life?
Growing up, I was a huge fan of horror books and James Herbert’s The Ghosts of Sleath was a particular favorite of mine. It was dark, creepy and thrilling, and that’s fed through in my own writing. I also love Stephen Fry’s books—he’s one of my all-time heroes. He’s just so witty and charming, and his books are both humorous and very naughty, which really tickles me. His book, The Liar, was my bible at high school, and inspired a film script that I wrote in sixth-form college, which helped secure my place at university (I did a BA Hons in Scriptwriting for TV and Film). Then, of course, there was Harry Potter…ahhh, Harry. That series has been a massive part of my life for so many years. As soon as I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, something inside me shifted, and I just knew I had to try writing my own novel.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
It’s one of those things that’s always been inside me, but I do recall one English lesson, when I was about nine years old, where we were asked to write a short story about a desert island. By the end of the class everyone else had written about two paragraphs, while I handed in three-sides of illegible scrawl, and my hero hadn’t even reached the desert island yet; we were still on the pirate ship! That was the first time I really tried my hand at creative writing and I loved it. From there, I used to carry an A4 notebook around with me and a red pen, wherever I went, and would constantly be writing novels and movie scripts. I started taking it more seriously in sixth-form college, and spent all my free periods writing. I knew then I wanted to be a writer, although it would take another 10 years before I wrote my first full-length novel.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I think it was creating the Darklings, because they needed their own history, biology, religion, etc. It took a lot of time to develop them, but it was also one of the most exciting aspects of writing BLACK CITY.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write what you love to read! Don’t just write something because you think it will sell. If you’re passionate about a specific genre, then it’ll really shine through in your writing.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I just want to say a huge, squishy THANK YOU to all my readers for your support. I absolutely love hearing from you, and chatting about Ash and Nat, so feel free to Tweet me (@theredpenofdoom) or leave a message on my Facebook wall (http://www.facebook.com/OfficialElizabethRichards)!
Thank you so much Elizabeth, you're amazing!