Kim Curran is the author of Shift, one of launch releases for Angry Robot’s new YA imprint, Strange Chemistry. Kim dropped by the virtual offices to induce herself and to chat about her new paranormal thriller.
[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Kim Curran] Lives in pyjamas, wants to be a ninja. Hopeful, fretful, loyal. Laughs a lot. Hugs a lot. And (according to a 10-year old) is well cool.
[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about Shift?
[Kim Curran] Shift is about a teenage boy called Scott Tyler who realises he has the power to undo any decision he’s ever made. At first, he thinks the power’s going to be really cool. But as he comes to terms with it, he realises that changing his choices can have terrible unforeseeable consequences. Consequences that could unravel his whole life. He’s helped along the way by the mysterious Aubrey Jones. Although he’s never sure if she’s getting him out of trouble or deeper into it.
[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Kim Curran] I was sitting on a bus on my way back from work one day, looking at the people all bustling home, thinking about all the choices they’ve made in their lives. At the same time I was thinking about a book I’d just read on quantum physics. And bang. The idea for Shift came to me. What if you could change your decisions, in the same way light can ‘shift’ from particle to wave?
As for the characters, I’d just finished a (trunk) novel written 3rd person with a female lead. So I decided I wanted to try writing 1st person. And for some reason Scott Tyler’s voice came to me incredibly clearly. On the surface he’s a bundle of anxieties and yet he has this inner strength. So maybe it was like a reversal of myself (I’m strong on the outside, wobbly on the inside!). I scribbled the prologue in a taxi on my way to work one day, and it’s remained virtually unchanged since. And as I had a male protagonist, I had to have a really cool female opposite, just to get him into trouble. So Aubrey Jones was born. She’s the kind of girl I always wished I could be when I was a teenager, but never was.
[Manga Maniac Café] What three words best describe Scott?
[Kim Curran] Self-depreciating. Kind. Strong.
[Manga Maniac Café] What are three things Aubrey would never have in her purse?
[Kim Curran] I’m not all together sure Aubrey would have a purse. But in her bag, she would never carry anything she might perceive to be too ‘girlie’. So nothing pink or glittery. She probably doesn’t carry much money in there either, as she’s not very good with it.
[Manga Maniac Café] What is Scott’s single most prized possession?
[Kim Curran] Oh, good question. Probably a vintage, still-the-box, action figure of some kind.
[Manga Maniac Café] What are your greatest creative influences?
[Kim Curran] I’m hugely influenced by films and comic books. I’ve also been creatively shaped (for good or bad) by working in advertising for 15 years. So I’m always thinking about the audience and how to connect with them – and fast. As I say, not always a good thing, but there you go. As for writers, we’d be here all day, but the few that pop into my head right now are: Lauren Buekes, Anthony Horrowitz, Patrick Ness, Angela Carter, Neil Gaiman, David Mitchell, Sergei Lukyanenko, Camus.
[Manga Maniac Café] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Kim Curran] I need very little. Something to write with (my MacBook Air or my Waterman pen) and something to write on! Other than that, a comfortable chair. I can write anywhere: at home on my own, in cafes, on buses. In fact, most of the first draft of Shift was written on a bus.
[Manga Maniac Café] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?
[Kim Curran] Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway. For me it’s close to being perfect. Hugely fun and yet astoundingly well written. It’s rare, I find, that literary books are so joyful in their storytelling.
[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Kim Curran] Probably Roald Dahl’s BFG. I read it when I was about eight and then devoured all of his other books. That was when I realised I was a ‘reader’. And I never stopped.
[Manga Maniac Café] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Kim Curran] Unsurprisingly, I like to read. I find it hard to read when I’m writing as I pick up voices too easily. So when I’m not writing I try and catch up on my huge TBR pile. I also love coffee with friends, watching movies and the usual stuff. I used to fence a lot, but I’ve recently hurt my hip, so I’m looking for a new sport to get into. Capoeira maybe?
[Manga Maniac Café] How can readers connect with you?
[Manga Maniac Café] Thanks!
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