Hi all, today I have the pleasure of welcoming Christina Banach, author of Minty, to my blog.
I am very grateful to Christina for agreeing to answer my questions and also for sending me a beautiful signed paperback copy of Minty which I am looking forward to reading and reviewing 🙂
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
I’m a writer and former Headteacher living in the Kingdom of Fife, Scotland, with my husband and our two rescue dogs. I write young adult/crossover fiction. Some of the things I love are: writing (obviously!); spending time with my husband and dogs; being curled up with a good book; luxuriating in cake, scones and great food; being on or near the sea; chilling in front of the TV; going for long walks; having fun with friends and family; and enjoying nights at the theatre. Oh – did I mention chocolate? I love chocolate!
My book, Minty, is set in Fife and is a contemporary ghost story, told from the point of view of the ghost. It has described it as a cross between The Lovely Bones (without the grim murder!) and Ghost. I’m told that it’s a real weepy, but nevertheless has heart and warmth at its core. It tells the story of fourteen-year-old twins Minty and Jess who, although they sometimes bicker, are completely inseparable. Then a day trip to the coast puts their bond in jeopardy. As Minty tries to rescue her dog from drowning she ends up fighting for her life, a fight that results in drastic consequences for both sisters.
Minty was a Scottish Book Trust Teen’s Book of the Month, shortlisted for the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award and nominated for a Cybils Award.
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
From everywhere: television and film, theatre and the news, and reading (fiction and non fiction). Or from observing the world, and mulling over a long-held opinion or belief. More than anything, though, it’s asking that all important question, what if?
Nevertheless, sometimes an idea can appear in a flash, as it did with my debut novel, Minty. During the night I thought I sensed my late father’s presence, after which, unable to get back to sleep, I sat in the sunroom contemplating what had actually happened. Whilst doing this I heard my dog panting and put out my hand to stroke her. Until it struck me – how could it be my pet? She’d died the month before.
That’s when Minty’s story came to me: the tale of a teenaged girl to whom the unimaginable happens. One that deals with universal themes such as love, family, grief, hope and redemption, but that also attempts to answer one of the big questions in life, namely, what happens to us after we die?
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
None of my characters are based on any one person. However, I’m sure that the characteristics and mannerisms etc of family, friends and aquaintances worm their way into my fiction. Plus, I’ve been known to observe strangers, eg in restaurants or on the train, and note down anything that piques my interest, to use later when crafting a story. I think, like most writers, I’m a bit of a magpie!
How do you pick your characters names?
Sometimes they simply pop into my mind, as was the case with Minty and her twin sister Jess. Other times I refer to my trusty book of baby names, or trawl though websites for suitable Christian names. For surnames, if one doesn’t suggest itself to me, I tend to use telephone directories or turn to websites.
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
Once I have an idea that won’t let go I start reading around it, making lots of notes. When I have enough information I brainstorm all the plot ideas that emerge and consider how I’ll mould these in the context of a three-act structure. I used to be a bit of a Pantser but the more I’ve learned about plot and structure the more I plot the bones of my story before I embark on the first draft. Nontheless, it’s a very basic structure and I’m not wedded to it. When it comes to the actual writing of the story, I maintain a detailed handwritten journal during each writing session but type the story straight on to the computer. However, if I get stuck I will revert to longhand to get me out of the mire. I tend to write several drafts before a book is finished – Minty took eight drafts to get to publication. Oh dear, that’s hardly my writing process in a nutshell, is it? Sorry but I could talk about this subject all day long!
Do you have a favourite author?
Gosh, that’s such a difficult question! I love so many authors, some of whom write for children and young adults and others who write adult fiction. While saying that, if I have to whittle it down to one then I’d say David Almond. If I hadn’t read his children’s novel, Skellig, I wouldn’t have written Minty. I had worked on adult fiction until I came across David’s book but was so capitivated by the style and content of the book that it made me wonder whether I could write for young people, too. I decided to give it a try and it was then that I found my voice. Actually, I owe him a debt of gratitude.
If you could meet any author, who would it be? And what would you ask them?
There are so many authors, past and present, that I would love to meet. However, in light of what I said above, my answer this question has to be David Almond. I’m going to the SCBWI BI conference in Winchester University this November where the man himself is giving a keynote speech. I honestly can’t wait for that! I hope to pluck up the courage to say ‘hello’ to him if I see him around the campus. As for what I would ask him, my first question should probably be ‘would you like a coffee?’, because by buying him a drink I’ll be able (in a very small way) to repay my debt to him and pick his writerly brain!
Were you a big reader as a child?
I read a fair bit when I was a child but, in all honesty, my voracious appetite for books only kicked in when I was in my twenties.
When did you start to write?
From early childhood I wrote stories and created my own comics. I also wrote short plays for my friends to perform. In my teens I turned to writing angst-ridden (and pretty awful!) poetry but once I went to university I stopped writing creatively. It wasn’t until many years later, when I was on sick leave from my headteacher’s post, that I picked up pen and paper and started writing again. Then the writing bug truly got hold of me. However, it was increasingly difficult to find the time to work on my novels so, eventually, I took a leap of faith and resigned from my job. I’ve been writing full-time ever since.
What are you working on right now?
At the moment I’m working on the fourth draft of COIRA, a young adult mystery set in the legendary village of Glencoe. It’s a complex and ambitious story which has involved a lot of research but I’ve fallen completely in love with writing it.
When can we look forward to a new release?
There’s no publication date, as yet, for my next book. Dare I say, ‘watch this space?’.
How can readers keep in touch with you?
I love connecting with readers and have several online accounts to enable this. I can be contacted through my website, or on Twitter and Facebook. I can also be found on Pinterest and Instagram.
Here are the links to my social media accounts:
Instagram: Christina Banach (can’t seem to transfer the link from my phone for this one. Sorry!)
Thank you for inviting me to feature on your blog, Kerry. It has been fun!
Many thanks for joining me, Christina. It has been a pleasure 🙂
Publisher: Three Hares Publishing (8th April 2014)
Buy your copy HERE
Fourteen-year-old twins Minty and Jess are inseparable. Maybe they bicker now and then, even crave a bit of space once in a while. But they have a connection. Unbreakable. Steadfast. Nothing can tear them apart. Until a family trip to the coast puts their bond in jeopardy. As Minty tries to rescue her dog from drowning she ends up fighting for her life. Will Minty survive? If she doesn’t, how will Jess cope without her? Only the stormy sea has the answer. Minty is a story of love, loss and coming to terms with consequences. It’s a spiritual tale that will linger in your mind long after you’ve read the final word.