Sunday, December 18, 2022

Q&A with Daisy May Johnson




Daisy May Johnson is the author of the new middle grade novel How to Be True. She also has written the middle grade novel How to Be Brave. She lives in the UK.


Q: What inspired you to write How to Be True, and how would you describe the relationship between this novel and your novel How to Be Brave


A: After I finished working on How To Be Brave, I knew I couldn't let one of those characters go. That character was a small and brilliant girl called Edie Berger and she's the star of How To Be True. I wanted to explore her background and how she became the force of nature that she is and I was desperate to write a book set in Paris (such an evocative and wonderful city with such a fun literary heritage!). 


As for the relationship between How To Be Brave and How To Be True, I describe the latter as a standalone sequel. That means the book takes place after the events of How To Be Brave and features the same characters - but you do not need to have read How To Be Brave in order to understand it! I am not here for books that need Cliff Notes in order to understand them. :)


Q: What inspired you to create your character Edie?


A: In many ways, Edie ended up writing herself - she's so much fun to work with as a character and almost falls off the page. She's influenced by the characters I read and enjoyed as a child but also by the readers I meet and worked with as a librarian.


Edie is passionate and heartfelt and lives her life at the edge of the world. She's also influenced a lot by my childhood holidays in France and the way I adored wandering around the supermarkets and looking at all the new and exciting food.


Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: I work from a plan that has been agreed between me and my agent. We make a lot of changes and amendments before we both agree but then it's good to go and all I have to do is start writing. The plan for How To Be True really didn't change that much once it was locked down - but of course, I could play around with the details of how things actually happened when the moment arrived. 


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?


A: It's very easy to feel like the world wants you to perform a certain way - to put on a particular face or act in a particular manner. I hope my stories tell the people who feel a little bit like they can't do that and those who feel a little bit misunderstood or like they don't fit in that they are wonderful just the way they are. Celebrate what makes you you.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I am sort of in between a few things right now - I just finished a big first draft of a mysterious project and while I'm waiting for notes on that, I'm thinking about what else to do. I am desperate to do a pony story so maybe it will be that ...


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Don't wash your red socks with white, rescue pets are the best pets, and love your local library!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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