Author Confessions: Kenneth Oppel
YA author Kenneth Oppel is on a roll after just releasing his newest novel, The Nest. We managed to track him down in the midst of his busiest time yet to ask him to divulge all.
What’s your guiltiest reading pleasure?
Jurassic Park. It’s the only book I took the day off work to read. I started in the morning and went till I was done. The writing and characters are on the thin side, but the premise and plot developments -- and the dinosaurs! -- are so fantastic that I could not stop reading.
Have you ever pretended to have read a book to impress someone?
What I like to do is read up on a lot of current books, jacket blurbs, bits of reviews, other people’s tweets, so at parties I can talk (sort of) knowledgeably about a ton of books and trick people into thinking I’m smart and well-read and really on top of everything.
How do you arrange your bookshelf?
I put all my books facing out, and everyone else’s spine out at the very bottom. Or did you mean at home?
I once had a woman come up to me after a reading and ask if she could touch my hair...
Which book has left the greatest impression on you?
Toss up between Danny Champion of the World by Roald Dahl, and LM Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon. In the first case, it was the idea of living in a gypsy caravan; in the second, it was reading about a young character who had the same aspirations as me: to become a writer. I’d never encountered that in a book before.
What’s the strangest question you’ve been asked about your work?
I once had a woman come up to me after a reading and ask if she could touch my hair because, from where she was sitting, my hair looked like a Greek God’s hair, and could she just touch it, so I let her touch it, and she looked disappointed and said, “No, it’s just normal hair.”
Is there a book by someone else that you wish you’d written?
Feed by MT Anderson. It’s the perfect book. It’s dystopian fiction, it’s a romance, it’s a cautionary tale, it’s a satire, it’s a tragedy. Brilliant. It fires on all cylinders.
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring authors what would it be?
Don’t edit yourself as you write. Do that later. Write every sentence that comes to mind, even if you think it’s terrible. Sometimes you have to write a lot of terrible sentences before the good ones come. And your best ideas will often come to you while you’re in the physical act of writing. The only mistake you can make is not writing.
What is your worst writing habit?
Editing myself as I write. Which leads to procrastination. Which leads to the internet. Which leads to social media, self-loathing, and a poor daily word count.
When is the last time you cried?
I’m crying right now.
What’s a successful day of writing for you?
When I meet or even surpass my goal of 1000 words, and they were good words that I feel really captured a character, or the conflict between characters, or introduced some amazingly exciting new idea into the story.
Competition: Win a copy of The Nest
Thanks to David Fickling Books, we've got 3 copies of The Nest beautifully illustrated by Jon Klassen (I Want My Hat Back) to give away.
All you have to do to enter is answer this simple question in the comments below or email your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org marked 'The Nest Competition':
- What is Kenneth Oppel's guiltest reading pleasure?
Closing date: 17:00, Tuesday 29 March 2016. Open to UK entrants only. Full terms and conditions.