Today I am introducing a great new author who became
Finalist in the Kindle Book Review Best Indie Books 2012
in the Young Adult Category and just announced as Quarter-Finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Young Adult Fiction category
Graham J Sharpe manages to combine a futuristic setting with current spiritual themes such as predetermination and the law of attraction. In parts the novel reads like a children’s book for adults and in others it illustrates how such laws and theories can be translated into real life, in an entertaining and not merely instructive way. A very important work of art, a novel for everyone who takes an interest in spiritual and new age theories such as the law of attraction and the idea of a pre-determined life path. There is a lot of food for thought in this genre blending mix for everyone, it is hard to do it justice without giving the plot and the ending away. I am very pleased to see spiritual themes infiltrate fiction books that everyone can enjoy.
After a purple storm sweeps around Planet Earth, stealing millions of people, four teenagers struggle to make it alone in London.
Drawn together by a series of bizarre coincidences, Ellie, Midge, Scott and Marty soon find themselves entangled with a bunch of interfering pensioners. Among the cast of players are flamboyant hairdresser Mr Rupert, Pearl the loud-mouthed tea lady, and June, a psychic, who travels the world on her motorbike.
As the tranquillizing effects of the Purple diminish, greed and the lust for power take hold. Penny Treasure, leader of the Decision Makers Council, dreams up an idea that could destroy the world forever.
In a desperate hunt to find the missing, clues are pieced together and some shocking secrets come tumbling out of the closet.
Other reviewers said:
There is so much to like about this post-traumatic society that author, Graham J. Sharpe has conjured up, but I’m not going to spoil the plot by disclosing the whole synopsis.
No need; with Purple you’ll just drop into the story, in safe hands, and find yourself laughing out loud, nodding your approval and sighing blithely as you follow the richly painted characters on their mission.
I’ll say it again: don’t imagine that you are too old to enjoy this wonderful novel. Trust me!
This is a book for all ages – top quality writing and characterization – treat yourself to a copy. Purple will remain one of my all time favorites, of that much I’m sure. It’s not often that a story resonates and captivates in such a satisfying manner. To that purpose, I am shouting from the rooftops (well, my editing blog) to steer you towards this beautifully written story.
Interview with Graham:
How did you come to writing in the first place? Did you always write?
I had a rough time at school because I was bullied for being gay. I’ve only recently come to realize that I was denied a proper education. I left school with few qualifications and for years I had little belief in myself. When I was in my early twenties, I wrote for (and performed with) a co-operative theatre company based in the north west of England. Looking back I can see that reading, writing and literature were subjects that came naturally to me. I started writing Purple because I had a story I wanted to tell. An American friend, who is a published writer, helped me overcome my initial self-doubt.
How did you decide to write for young adults? Are there any children around you or is it your own childishness?
It’s definitely my own childishness. I hate categorizing and (like many writers) I hope my work has cross-genre appeal. Purple wasn’t intended for a particular age group. In the beginning I thought it could be a suitable story for children, but when its themes became more complex I decided the young adult market might be more appropriate. Lots of adults have read it and enjoyed it. Advice for writers is conflicting: some say it’s vital to target a particular market, do the research, then make a plan and stick to it. A minority suggest allowing the story to reveal itself. This second approach seems to work for me. I’ve attempted detailed chapter plans on several occasions, but that exercise always leaves me feeling uninspired.
There is a supernatural or spiritual aspect to Purple, which suggests some kind of experiences with those issues. Could you describe your path towards them?
Once, when I was fast asleep in Dhaka, all the lights in my hotel room came on. I jumped out of bed thinking someone had entered my room, but the door was still closed and locked. When I got home two days later I discovered a close friend had died. According to my calculations she had passed away at the exact time all the lights came on. She’d known she was dying and, in one of our latter conversations, had promised to make contact with me from ‘the other side’ if it was possible. On another occasion, I think a ghost followed me from Denver International Airport to my hotel room! Seriously!! I wrote about it in my blog, so I won’t repeat the story here. I’ve had other curious experiences that could point to the possibility of life after death, but I’m aware nothing can be proved. Some people have very fixed beliefs around this subject and I have no desire to persuade anyone to change their views. I don’t believe spirituality is religion. I don’t hold any religious beliefs but I do feel there is an energy that runs through every human being and it connects us with all creation. I wanted to explore that belief in Purple and I think it resonates with lots of readers.
When did you first have the idea for this book?
About nine years ago…YIKES! Time is flying!
How long did it take you to write?
The exact timings are blurred, but I wrote sporadically for about four years before taking Purple to a London based literary consultants called Cornerstones. Following their advice I spent another eighteen months rewriting. It was a long, slow process, but I wanted to make sure it was the best it could be. My other job is long haul cabin crew so I’m regularly jetlagged whilst juggling work and home commitments.
How did you come up with the characters? Which one is closest to you – if any?
My friends and relatives are the inspiration for many of the characters in Purple. Some of the characters are exaggerated aspects of myself and Marty is probably the closest one to me. Marty has recently moved to London and he feels like an outsider, he’s living alone in an abandoned camper van and has become self sufficient to the point of isolation. Like everyone, all he really wants is to be loved and accepted and have friends he can rely on. Pearl and Opal are my favourites because they make me laugh. Mrs MacKay is a mix of my grandmother and my partner’s mum. Mr Rupert, the flamboyant ex-war pilot turned hairdresser, reminds me of an eccentric boss I once had many years ago.
How comfortable do you feel writing for young adults as an adult?
I don’t feel as if I’m writing for a specific market. I know this doesn’t go down well with agents and publishers, but the truth is I only feel truly excited and inspired when I’m not tied to a fixed plan. As the story of Purple developed it didn’t require me to include any sex, violence or offensive language. There’s occasional, mild swearing, but only where it’s wholly appropriate.
Does your book have a main message and if so what would you describe it as?
Yes, I think it does have a main message, but I don’t want to be specific because I’ll give the story away. Purple is a modern morality tale that reminds us we must come together and stop fighting if we want to survive. Jeez, that sounds a bit heavy! I hope I’ve managed to deliver a serious message in a light-hearted way without being preachy. As the story unfolds it becomes apparent that adults with power can be greedy and destructive, old people aren’t useless and young people have the power to change the world.
How do you write? What is your writing environment like?
Because of my flying job I’m constantly in different time zones and hotel rooms. Right now I’m in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, I landed here this morning and I’ve had two hours sleep. Tomorrow I’m up at 3am for the flight back to London. My routine is unstructured! I love it when I have whole, uninterrupted days at home, but I’ve taught myself to write anytime, anywhere. I use my MacBook and take it with me on all my travels.
How many rewrites did it take you?
I honestly can’t remember how many rewrites I did. I’m working on something new at the moment and I’m constantly rewriting. If I’m not careful I can get too bogged down with details and polish. I have to remind myself to keep going and let the story out. In the beginning I’m really just playing around with ideas and discovering characters. Perhaps that’s my own way of planning. I did a major rewrite of Purple after working with Cornerstones and I wrote several versions of Chapter One before I discovered the ‘one’.
Who are your editors and how do you quality control your books?
I’ve developed a filtering process that seems to work. I’m lucky that I have some brilliant friends who are happy to share their opinions on anything I write. They read an early draft of Purple and gave me general feedback. Then, one of my friends, a teacher in a South London school, read Purple and made markings with his red pen! It was just like handing in an essay to my English teacher when I was a student. As well as highlighting spelling and grammar errors he also made general comments and suggestions. It was incredibly useful to get this kind of constructive criticism from a fresh pair of eyes. Finally, I paid a professional editor to make it as near-to-perfect as possible (her name is Pauline Nolet and she lives in Canada and she’s meticulous).
Who are your favourite authors / influences?
I love all sorts of writers and books. These are five of my favourites:
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Running with Scissors by Augustine Burroughs
The Colour Purple by Alice Walker
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Ronald Dahl
Abide With Me by Ian Ayris (I read this book recently and loved it. Some reviewers have knocked it because it’s full of swear words. I’m amazed that people find swear words offensive in literature. It’s a great story about love and survival).
Who would play your characters in a movie / musical?
I’m not sure about the teenagers, but for the adults I’m going for some big names!
Mr Rupert – David Suchet
Pearl and Opal – Maureen Lipman and Julie Walters
Mrs Mackay – Phyllida Law or Maggie Smith
June – Judy Dench
What are you writing about now and where would we be likely to hear about it?
I’ve started writing a sequel to Purple and I’m also working on something completely different (which I want to keep a secret). I’m about to permanently cut down on my flying hours and free up more time and headspace to crack on with it. I guess the best place to hear about any of my work is on my website grahamjsharpe.com