A couple of days ago I introduced you to Scottish author, Kirkland Ciccone. Today it's time to hear a little more from him:
What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
It changes weekly but The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie was a huge moment for me. Blood And Guts At High School by Kathy Acker. Fade by Robert Cormier. Summer Of Fear by Lois Duncan. Party Monster by James St. James is a thrilling novel. Whispers In The Graveyard by Theresa Breslin. Remembrance of the Daleks by Ben Aaronovitch. Yes seriously! A brilliant book full of imaginative writing. Oh and The Three Investigators & The Secret Of Terror Castle.
Interesting choices, Kirkland. Next question, if you could have the career of any author, living or dead, whose would you pinch? Why?
Roald Dahl! I've always adored his books. I still do. I get more out of them as an adult than I ever did as a child growing up. The reason I'd love to have his power is that he wrote books for everyone, even though they were ostensibly meant for children.
Oh yes, I love Roald Dahl too! Now a tricky question for you: which do you prefer, US-based YA fiction or UK?
I was raised on an unholy alliance of USYA and UKYA. Lois Duncan, Joan Lowery Nixon, Carolyn Keane, Robert Cormier were all especially influential on me. I never really thought of them as American, weirdly enough. They could take place anywhere. I like to think American readers of my books (when I eventually get some!) would recast my setting in an American context. I think they do that with British books anyway.
Yes, they probably do. Moving on, do tell us about Moany Pony.
Kirkland Ciccone’s Moany Pony is my punky ‘zine which is available for free on my website. Whenever one of my novels is about to be published, I put out a complimentary magazine – completely homemade – for fans to read a little behind the scenes stuff. Each novel to date has an issue of Moany Pony. There was a really strong fanzine culture when I was a teenager because the internet wasn’t as advanced. Punk bands and feminists made these magazines and I devoured them. Moany Pony is my tribute in that sense.
What a great idea! Now I want to cast my question net wider to talk about Yay! YA+. I see that Yay! YA+ is back this year, could you tell us a little about this event and what part you've played in setting it up?
YALC happened and I was terribly excited about it until it dawned on me that, because I live in Scotland, I wouldn't get to experience it as an author or a reader. I could have gone down as a fan, but it just wasn't possible. And then I realised Scotland didn't have a day of events dedicated solely to YA. "I'll set my own event up!"I said to myself. I was excited, happy…and absolutely mad. What was I thinking? But it became a vendetta to make it happen. I contacted venues, sourced funding, and finally put on a quirky YA focussed event at Cumbernauld Theatre, which was apt because Cumbernauld was where Gregory's Girl was filmed - one of the most iconic teen movies ever. Yay! YA+ was so successful that two hundered pupils turned up. We even had our own bookshop courtesy of Scotia Books, a local bookseller. Reviews were fabulous too. So I'm repeating the madness this year. (For more info on Kirkland's Yay! YA+ click here).
Can you give us a sneak preview of what authors will be there this year, or is it all 'hush hush' until the big reveal?
We'll have eight authors, Christina. Here's an exclusive…I'm one of them! But we have a good mixture of big names and new talent. The Teen Reads Scene in Scotland is thriving. Incidentally, I was in contact with some librarians recently who want to put on their own event. They were worried I'd think they were ripping my idead off, which is crazy becuase I'm all for people doing their own events. I'm delighted to see them going out and supporting me and my fellow YA authors. And because they have money we'll get paid, which is only right. I make sure the authors at Yay! get paid. You'll hear more about that event in September. But you'll be hearing about Yay YA+! 2016 very soon.
That sounds brilliant, Kirkland. I hope it's even more successful this year. Now, to round off the interview, let’s go totally random:
One event at the Edinburgh Book Festival or three events at the Hay?
Let me do all the events at the Edinburgh Book Festival and The Hay. I’ll do them right now. I have a projector, a screen, a laptop, some fairy wings and glitter. Heck I even have a packet of McVitie’s Ginger Nuts.
When were you last wrong about something? Care to tell us what was it?
My crossword a few minutes ago!
Living in the present or foot in the past?
Respect the lineage, but embrace the future. Especially in our community, because before us there were YA authors who aren’t necessarily remembered by many people…but I know of them, and I treasure their work. Jay Bennett? What a writer! He deserves to be widely read again. Even Lois Duncan has all but vanished from YA shelves in the UK. What a scandal.
Gladiator sandals or tackety boots?
Whisked off by aliens or ‘road trip’ in the Tardis?
I would be an amazing companion in Doctor Who. I’d force the Doctor to let me meet Donna Noble.
Ever suffered from Irritable Vowel Syndrome?
Ah! My one man show from Cumbernauld Theatre was called Irritable Vowel Syndrome. I dressed up as King Richard, whose skeleton had just been discovered in a car park. Then I entered the theatre from their car park…but there was a truck driver outside who saw me sashay past him in a gold cloak and crown. He freaked! Poor guy, I had to explain afterwards.
Apple or android?
I couldn’t be without my iPod. Life is better with a backing track.
I couldn’t survive in publishing without…
In no particular order, school librarians/readers/friends/authors/Twinings Tea/librarians/booksellers/festivals.
And finally, what would you say to someone who has still to pick up a Kirkland Ciccone novel?
You haven’t read one of my books yet? Life is too long to get it wrong! Real life is boring, so read Kirkland Ciccone and embrace the weirdness.
Kirkland, it has been a pleasure to have you on the blog. I wish you all the best with your career and with the forthcoming Yay! YA+ event.