About Claire McFall
Claire McFall's work is, in essence, all about first love and difficult
decisions. Her novels take straightforward romantic narratives and hurl
them into unusual and extreme settings, blurring accepted genre
boundaries and creating new sub-genres of her own. She then charts her
characters' reactions to these unfamiliar situations and the new and
confusing feelings that beset them in a hyper-real, engaging, deeply
poignant and literary manner. Claire is a teacher and lives in the
Scottish Borders with her husband and she currently working on her next
novel for Templar Fiction.
What inspired ‘Ferryman’?
A single line. I used to have a really long commute to work, and I’d spend my time alternating between really bad karaoke (there was no one to hear me but the sheep) and making up stories in my head. I got a line of a story stuck in my head (in the first draft it was the very first line of the novel, but then I decided to start a little earlier, so now it kicks off chapter three) and it just wouldn’t go away. “Slowly, it grew arms and legs. Dylan went from being trapped in the dark, to trapped in the dark in a train, to trapped in the dark in a train in the wasteland” … and from there all the little details just dropped into place.
Will there be a sequel?
Never say never, but I think both Dylan and Tristan and I are pleased with how things turned out. My instinct is to leave them to their fate now.
It’s not the end of me, though. My second novel “Bombmaker” is due out early next year (more about that below!!!)
‘Ferryman’ is an epic adventure and thought-provoking. As a teacher, did you intend to write a novel that would inspire debate and discussion?
Not on purpose! I didn’t write Ferryman – or anything, for that matter! – as a teacher, thinking about how it would come across or how it might be dissected. I just got carried away with the story. It was as much an adventure for me as it was for Dylan and Tristan. I definitely hope readers find interesting things to talk about from it – but my biggest hope of all is that they get swept along with the journey … and then maybe do some talking after ;)
Are your characters inspired by people you know?
Yes and no. Little bits and pieces come from friends and people I meet - and there’s the odd random phrase from pupils that have wound their way into my stories too. But for the most part, my characters somehow become people in their own right … living out a life in my head. That’s one of my favourite things when I’m writing. As I’m tapping out the scene, it’s almost like I’m speaking as someone else for a little bit.
What would your idea of Heaven be?
Ooh hard question! I found it really difficult to come up with that part of the book, because I truly didn’t have a clue. I like the idea of going “home”, wherever that might be. But I’m also drawn to the thought of being able to explore anywhere … just by going through a door. I don’t subscribe to the white marble, blinding light idea. I don’t think I’d fit in there – the angels wouldn’t be too pleased with me spilling chocolate sauce down my beautiful white, glistening gown. (Chocolate sauce is, of course, standard fare in my heaven.)
Do you believe true love conquers all?
Yes! Oh yes, definitely!!!!
What are your future literary ambitions?
My ambitions are pretty humble: I just want to keep writing stories! I hope people like what I do, and fall in love with my stories and characters the way I have … but to be honest, even if there was no one to publish my work, I’d write it all the same.
Someday, maybe, I might think about writing something for adults, but the truth is I really don’t think I’m grown-up enough yet! (I probably should be, but I’m resisting!). Plus, for me YA fiction is the most interesting, the most thrilling … okay just the best type of writing to be doing.
Do you have any top tips for budding writers?
Love your story! That’s really important. It’s a long old slog, writing a novel. If you don’t truly get lost in your tale, or fall in love (including friendship love) with your characters, it’s easy to give up. I guess it’s like stripping wall paper. At first you can just yank it off and you make loads of progress really quickly and it feels great … but then you have to pick your way round all those little irritating bits that just don’t want to come off the wall. Which sucks. If you persevere though, it’s so rewarding at the end when you can stand back and look at what you’ve done.
Do you have a special place you write?
I’m a bit of a writing slob, to be honest. I write on the sofa, with a laptop on my knees in front of the telly. To be honest, it’s easy to not get distracted by the screen as my husband’s usually using it to blow things up on his X-box! I think it might be a teacher thing … but I’ve gotten very good at blocking out background murmurs as I work (if you can concentrate with a class of thirty pupils in the room, you can concentrate anywhere!). If I go somewhere peaceful and quiet, I just start searching for noise. Plus, the sofa is near the kitchen. And that’s where the chocolate lives …
Do you have any projects in the pipeline you’d like to tell us about?
My second novel, “Bombmaker”, is coming out through Templar is early 2014 … and I’m REALLY excited about it! I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s about terrorism … and love … and loyalty … and society … and things blowing up!
Where can fans of your work find out more about you and your writing?
The Templar website is a great place to start, both for my writing and other awesome YA lit! You can also come fine me at my website: www.clairemcfall.co.uk
And my blog … http://clairemcfall.blogspot.co.uk/
And I’m on Facebook too!
Book a Poet's Review of 'Ferryman'
By Claire McFall
Published by Templar Publishing, 1st March 2013-01
“Ferryman” is a brilliant, epic story from new writer Claire McFall. Inspired by Greek myths, love and the afterlife, “Ferryman” is a refreshing, exciting novel for teens; there’s not a werewolf or vampire in sight!
Dylan is a teenager, who is lonely at school, feels misunderstood by her peers and mum. Her dad left when she was 5 and she has just got in touch with him, much to her mum’s dismay. After sleeping in, no breakfast, rushing to school in the pouring rain and getting the mick taken because her shirt’s gone see-through, Dylan thinks her day can’t get any worse. She ditches school to catch an earlier train to meet her dad for the first time in years.
Dylan’s train crashes and this is where her adventure begins as she travels the wilderness her mind has created, with her guide Tristan, who has been sent to guide her through the wasteland the demons possess to the “otherside” – her Heaven. If the demons take her, her soul dies and Dylan is gone forever. If she makes it with her Ferryman to the “other side”, Dylan’s soul will be home – whatever her mind says this is and here her soul will live forever.
Except Dylan is no ordinary soul and her journey is extraordinary. Dylan has to decide between life and death; love and death; to overcome the impossible to achieve her happiness; to stand strong in the face of adversity and to discover if there is life after death.
I really enjoyed “Ferryman”, it was a page-turner, exciting, thought-provoking, though it did end with some unanswered questions for me, so could there be a sequel in the pipeline? Either way it’s still a fantastic book, a real breath of fresh air and a book I think teens will really enjoy.
Highly recommended for readers aged 12+
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