Write On! interviews author Angharad Walker
Angharad is the author of The Ash House and Once Upon A Fever. She grew up on various military bases in the UK, Germany and Cyprus, where stories were often being told about far-flung places, past conflicts, and friends and family. She studied English Literature & Creative Writing at the University of Warwick and the University of California Irvine. She now lives in London.
WO: How would you describe your writing to someone new to it?
AW: Fantastical stories that make you think – with a dash of horror thrown in for good measure!
WO: Can you tell us a bit about your latest book, Once Upon A Fever?
AW: Once Upon A Fever is set in an alternative London. We follow sisters Ani and Payton, who live at King Jude’s Hospital. But this isn’t a world with ordinary diseases. Here, illness is caused by feelings: anger can make you breathe fire, fear can, literally, freeze you and loneliness can cause invisibility. Payton wants to be a methic like her father, working on a cure for her mother’s sleeping fever. Ani, however, thinks the remedy for all illness might be found in the green wilderness beyond the hospital walls. They both get drawn into a medical conspiracy, taking very different routes to save their family and each other.
WO: What inspired you to write in the first place, and what inspires you now?
AW: I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember. I was about seven when I read The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell and I never looked back. I’ve been making up stories ever since.
All sorts of things inspire me; it really depends on the project. The idea for Once Upon A Fever started with the image of two sisters growing up in a fantastical, gothic hospital. For a long time, I’ve been interested in the mental health epidemic affecting so many of us. It’s such a fascinating question for me: at what point do our feelings stop being ‘just’ feelings, and become a health condition instead? That’s when the science of the world really comes into focus, and Ani and Payton’s adventure with it.
WO: The last issue of Write On! explored the theme ‘Worlds Apart’. With that in mind, do you find yourself drawn towards writing about the world you know intimately, or do you strive to discover a world unknown?
AW: I mostly write about fantasy worlds, but in doing so I think I’m always trying to better understand the world around me. I think our world is an extraordinary place as it is; fantasy just lets us draw that to the forefront and embrace it fully.
WO: What one piece of advice would you give an aspiring writer?
AW: Write your projects through to the end. It’s easy to end up with lots of false starts, because starting a new idea is so fun and exciting. But we learn so much when we push through the difficult middle bit. A lot of writing is having the nerve to write through the uncomfortable parts.
WO: Question from Twitter user: @grasshopper2407 – What common pitfalls are there for new writers?
AW: Not giving your characters enough agency. I think this is really easy to slip into when writing fantasy. When we create an extraordinary world, we want to explore all the weird and wonderful things and people in it, so it’s easy to let things just happen to your characters. But they need to drive the story forward by making choices, taking risks and making mistakes. They need to be active participants, not only reacting to things.
WO: Can you tell us anything about future projects?
AW: I can’t share too much, but I will say this isn’t the last readers will see of Ani and Payton’s world!
WO: Lastly, if you could choose one fictional animal/creature to be a pet or companion, who would it be and why?
AW: I’m a huge Philip Pullman fan, so I’d love to have a daemon. I have no idea what form mine would take, though… probably a dormouse, or something else that sleeps a lot!
You can find out more about Angharad Walker on www.angharadwalker.com or follow her publishers Chicken House on Twitter: @chickenhsebooks for updates. Once Upon A Fever is available to buy from Waterstones, Foyles, Amazon, and Hive.co.uk.
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It’s easy to end up with lots of false starts, because starting a new idea is so fun and exciting. But we learn so much when we push through the difficult middle bit.