Savita Kalhan is the author of the young adult thriller, The Long Weekend. The Long Weekend was released on October 2, 2008 in the UK and if you live in the US, like me, you can order a copy from The Book Depository. =]
KBB: Why did you decide to write a thriller for teens? It’s not a common type of story.
SK: I love thrillers – I’ve been reading them since my early teens, but in the past if you went to a bookshop or a library, there weren’t many thrillers that were written for teens or young adults. Now there are more, but they don’t yet have their own section the way they do for adults. Teens love stories that are full of action, adventure and suspense, and with so many teens these days termed as ‘reluctant readers’ and with all the competing demands on their time with things like Play Station, X-box, Facebook, and instant messaging, I think it’s really important to help them foster a love of books.
I think a ‘thriller’ in the wider sense of the word would probably encompass books such as Twilight, Firebrand, as much as it does When I was Joe and The Dead House. All these books are thrilling reads: they have great pace, they’re full of suspense, they’re absorbing and gripping, and that’s what makes a thriller!
KBB: Are any of your characters inspired by real people or did they just come to you?
SK: I was very lucky with Sam and Lloyd, they arrived in my head pretty much intact. I do know lots of kids – I have a very sociable thirteen year old boy, so perhaps that helped, I don’t know. As for the monster in the book, yes, I have known such a person.
KBB: What was the hardest part of writing The Long Weekend?
SK: I think the hardest part was Lloyd’s trauma, and knowing how far to go in writing his story. Uppermost in my mind was the fact that this book would be read by kids, teens, and young adults, so I wanted to be sensitive to my readers, but at the same time not shy away from the ugly truth of the trauma. I didn’t describe it, I alluded to it, and it seems that that was more than enough. As it happens, many parents have also read the book and I think, for them, it is far scarier because what happens to Lloyd is not just a child’s greatest fear, but a parent’s greatest fear too.
KBB: A lot of readers have been creeped out by The Long Weekend, including me. Was that your aim when writing it? Were you creeped out when writing it?
SK: Gosh, I know! I’m sorry I’ve frightened so many people – real monsters are so much more frightening than demons and ogres. No, it wasn’t my aim at all, but the story pulled me along, the suspense and pace was as heart-stopping for me as I was writing it as it has been for my readers. Yes, I was creeped out when I wrote certain scenes. One day when I was working, I got a crick in my neck from the amount of times I looked over my shoulder, sure that someone was creeping up the stairs to my room!
KBB: Can you tell us anything about what you are currently working on? Any more YA books in the plans for the future?
SK: I’ve just finished a story about a boy who wakes up in a hospital bed and realises that he has no memory of how he got there, or who he is… I can’t say anymore than that at the moment! I have just started another book, another thriller you’ll be happy to hear. I’m not sure yet how dark, creepy or scary it will be, but that’s not something I plan in advance – if the story takes me there I have to follow.
I love writing for teens and young adults, so hopefully there will be lots more in the future.
KBB: Just for fun: Name a YA book that you would recommend. It can be an old release, new release, or not yet released book.
SK: Oh this is such a difficult one – I find it really hard doing a top ten list of YA books that I would recommend, so to isolate one book is almost impossible. I loved I’m Not Scared by Niccolo Ammaniti and A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnolly, both of which are brilliant reads.
KBB: Thanks so much for stopping by today, Savita! I can’t wait to read whatever you come out with next.
Readers if you would like to know more about Savita and The Long Weekend, check out her website here and the rest of the blog tour stops.