Claudia Gray, author of the bestselling Star Wars and Evernight series has been at the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) telling audiences of her obsession with the Star Wars movies since she was a child and how she came to write the sequel books after being approached by Lucasfilm, the films’ producer.
“I saw the original Star Wars movie when I was seven years old and went straight home and turned my bedroom closet in a star destroyer – I was hooked,” she said.
“I was – and still am a total nerd – and when I was growing up I loved things like the X-Files and Reader’s Digest books that had stories of aliens, cryogenics and all that kind of stuff. My imagination was warped – it never stood a chance!”
After Star Wars approached me with a rough concept and asked me to write the book, I had no idea how many people would read it. Ninety five percent of those readers were very happy, but there is that small minority who can be angry with you because there was something in the book they didn’t like. Nobody’s going to be happy every time, so that’s just how it is.”
The American heroine of so many teenager readers from across five continents (and who is currently reading David Copperfield), used to work in a legal practice and she may be a lover of science fiction and science fantasy, but admits she is not a lover of science itself.
“There is no way I could explain the intricacies of quantum physics, I’m not a scientist, I’m a recovering lawyer. And you don’t have to understand exactly how things work in science fantasy, you can just write, ‘I wonder what this does’ and suddenly it happens. The core to a great story telling is ‘what if… what if…’”
Claudia Gray is often asked for advice on how to write and some of most common mistakes people make.
“Everyone takes influences from everything that surrounds them. There is a saying that a bad artist borrows and a great artist steals. There is nothing wrong with being influenced. One of the main mistakes I see is people wanting to write a book and just not doing it. The dream is there but nothing is done. Another problem can be when the writing is not done consistently. You need to write regularly and not delay it. But the biggest mistake of all is not being prepared to fail. If you don’t like what you’ve written, just start again – you haven’t failed, you’ve learnt a lesson.
The author believes that writing must be a discipline but there is no right or wrong way to work.
“It depends on your style and your personality. You have to know who you are before you can discover how you can write. I can work on an outline for months, just formulating ideas and characters before I even get started on the book itself. I make sure I have the structure in my mind and know where I am going with a beginning, a middle and an end, but occasionally I can go off track somewhere in the middle – not wildly off track – but that’s to be expected.”
The second book in the Evernight series, Stargazer, was ranked No. 4 in the chapter book category of The New York Times list of bestselling children’s books and her ever-growing loyal following are waiting for her next publication.
“Let’s just say the book I’m working on is a mix between Battlestar Galactica and Casablanca.”