Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Interview with Ingrid Jonach

Today I have an interview with Ingrid Jonach, author of When the World was Flat (and we were in love). You can read my review of her novel, which I loved, here. As part of the blog tour promoting the book, Ingrid is also running a competition to win a signed copy and some other goodies. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom for details on how to enter!

But before we get to all that, a little bit about Ingrid:
Ingrid Jonach writes books for children and young adults, including the chapter books The Frank Frankie and Frankie goes to France published by Pan Macmillan, and When the World was Flat (and we were in love) published by Strange Chemistry.

Since graduating from university with a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing (Hons) in 2005, Ingrid has worked as a journalist and in public relations, as well as for the Australian Government.

Ingrid loves to promote reading and writing, and has been a guest speaker at a number of schools and literary festivals across Australia, where she lives with her husband Craig and their pug dog Mooshi.

Despite her best efforts, neither Craig nor Mooshi read fiction.

What inspired you to use a sciencey premise rather than a fantasy/magic-based one?
I love fantasy novels. If something goes bump in the night my mind goes to a ghost instead of to a burglar, but I tend to look for scientific explanations for paranormal phenomenon and the like. For example, I am fascinated by magicians, but only because I want to work out how they do their tricks. And I love mediums like John Edwards, but only because I think that they can actually read minds.

For this reason, I wanted to create a story that felt like a fantasy, but that could be explained through science.

Of the secondary characters, I quite liked Sylv, who was a bit different to a usual friend-of-main-character. What inspired her? 

I have a theory (based on personal experience) that misfits at school tend to gravitate towards each other and the result is that you end up with friendship groups of vastly different personalities.

I wanted to capture this with the friendship circle in When the World was Flat (and we were in love). For example, Sylv (the exhibitionist) is the exact opposite of Jo (the introvert). In addition to this, Sylv reminds me of a few of my friends growing up. I was relatively shy and was constantly drawn to outgoing friends, who were able to bring me out of my shell. I loved these friends for their provocative behaviour and their ability to make me laugh with their irreverence, as well as gasp at their exploits.

I also love Sylv because she has all of the confidence that is lacking in the main character Lillie and her best friend Jo. She makes no apologies for her personality, despite the disapproval of others. Again, my own personal experience has been that the teenage years are the most judgemental. It was liberating to create a character who could not give two hoots what others think.

Why set the book in small town USA?

The book was originally set in one of the small country towns I lived in while growing up in Australia. Kurri Kurri was a dry and dusty town on the edge of the world-renowned wine region of the Hunter Valley, which became the Open Valley in When the World was Flat (and we were in love).

The first draft was full of slang like 'knock your block off' and 'bloody hell' and ‘sucked in’, which made it extremely colloquial. But, when I introduced the science fiction elements into the story, I knew I was no longer writing a story about small town Australia. It was global and could have been set anywhere in the world.

I chose the US because, in my opinion, it is the most accessible setting internationally. My research showed that there was a cultural barrier between Australia and the rest of the world, which limited the readership of books set in Australia. I also found that international publishers were quite open about not considering books set in Australia (particularly publishers in the US). Many Australian authors seem to get around this by simply referring to a town as The Town or to a city as The City, without naming the location. I had to be specific about my location though, because I wanted it to be completely clear that the town was a part of our world (and not a futuristic world or another planet).

It was not a snap decision to set it in the US, but the result of a lot of research. But I was lucky that, aside from having grown up on a diet of US television and literature, I also have a strong connection to the US, as my father and sister are both American citizens, as well as Austrian citizens (we are a mixed bunch!). I chose Nebraska because I felt the climate was similar to that in Australia, but I did create a fictional town called Green Grove, which, in my mind, is located near Chadron. 

You're Australian but the book is written in US English and you mention in the acknowledgements the need to "translate" it. At what point did you have to do that? Was it before you started submitting it, or was it at the request of your publishers? (And, is being set in the US the main reason it needed translating?)

I started the translation process before I started submitting to agents. I avoided slang as much as possible throughout the novel, because the aim was to create a universal story, rather than an American story. 

Even so, the translation was an ongoing process and I worked very closely throughout with my sister, who is born and bred in America, and my agent, who hails from New York.

I would send my sister a long list of words that I thought were too Australian and she would send me back the alternatives, e.g. bomb cars became crappy cars; mollycoddled became babied; bush became forest, etc.

It was not just the language though. It was the spelling, e.g. realize instead of realise; neighbor instead of neighbour, color instead of colour. Thankfully that is mostly picked up by Microsoft Word. The punctuation was the most difficult, I admit. I got the shock of my life when I realized that there was a difference in punctuation, e.g. punctuation is always inside the quotation marks in US English.

Tell us a bit about what books you're currently working on and what we can look forward to reading next. Will you be revisiting the same world or taking your readers somewhere new?

I am currently finalising a manuscript that is loosely connected to the concepts in When the World was Flat (and we were in love). It actually explores other scientific theories, but it is unfortunately too early to go into them at this stage. There is a love story and, dare I say it, a love triangle, but not in the sense that you would think. 

I think it will definitely appeal to anyone who enjoyed When the World was Flat (and we were in love), but is also quite different as it also includes a touch of horror! 


Thanks Ingrid for taking the time to answer my questions! For more information, you can visit Goodreads, Ingrid's website or the publisher's page for the book. Next up is the promised giveaway!

Enter below for your chance to win one of two awesome prize packages as part of the Around the World in 80 Days Blog Tour for When the World was Flat (and we were in love) by Ingrid Jonach.  

There will be two winners worldwide. Each prize package includes: 

  • a signed copy of When the World was Flat (and we were in love)
  •  a pair of silver plated key-shaped earrings in a When the World was Flat (and we were in love) gift box
  • a When the World was Flat (and we were in love) bookmark.
The competition will run until 21 October 2013 and the winners will be announced on www.ingridjonach.com

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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