[Possible- get a male to extract from blurb]“Imagine having everything you ever wanted. A perfect family, a perfect boyfriend, perfect friends- the whole group that exists because of you. Then imagine waking up one morning and discovering you don’t have any of that.” – That’s exactly what happened to Tally in new author, Joey Paul’s debut book, Blackout. Released on August 10th. We caught up with Joey a few weeks ago to ask her on her views of school, the book and her favourite biscuit.
[Greeting, hello ETC}
[Katie/Jess] Lets start off with an intro, Joey, tell the listeners of Well In FM, who Joey Paul is.
I’m Joey, I’m 23, I like Busted, the unappreciated V, reading…lots…my god daughter Darla…monkeys…and of course, writing!
[Katie/Jess] When did you start making writing a career & why?
I started writing properly when I was nineteen, I’d started my first book when I was thirteen, but I didn’t have the time to actually finish it when I was nineteen – Blackout was the second book I wrote. I had the time then because I’d been retired from my job.
[Katie/Jess] Why did you retire so young?
I was diagnosed with a condition called M.E, as well as another condition called Fibromyaglia. Those together with a lung condition called ‘Brittle Asthma’ it meant that I couldn’t work anymore, at least not to the level required in my job, so they sent me off to a doctor and ended up retiring me on medical grounds.
[Katie/Jess] You share illnesses with the character Lisa from the book, is Brittle Asthma a common disease?
Not at all, it affects only 1500 people in the UK.
[Katie/Jess] What was it like being a teenager with Brittle Asthma?
It was hard, I spent most of year eight in and out of hospital, I slipped from top set to bottom set in most things because of that.
- Did that influence your version of Lisa in any way?
Yeah, I was lucky that I had friends who understood the reasons behind my many hospital stays and didn’t think that I had something that was contagious, but I know of a few other sufferers who weren’t so lucky and they were treated the way Lisa was before she moved to Tally’s school.
- Would you say that Lisa is partly your way of raising awareness about the disease?
In a way, yes, not a lot of people know it even exists and I’d like to raise some kind of awareness, maybe so that in the future kids who get diagnosed at school don’t have to go through the same thing Lisa does.
[Katie/Jess] The book deals with bullying & peer pressure; did you see much of it when you were at school?
That would be a BIG yes, I was bullied, my friends were bullied, in fact most of the kids were bullied and it still happens now, especially to kids who don’t fit in, or have the right brand of trainers or something equally stupid.
- Do you think things have got better?
I’d like to say it has, but to be honest I think a lot of bullied kids still get ignored, they need to know that if they tell a teacher or something it’s not going to come back and haunt them the way it did when I was at school, it’s sad to think that some kids are bullied so much that they’re driven to suicide.
[Katie/Jess] What do you think you people should do if they’re being bullied/being pressurized in to doing things they shouldn’t?
Peer pressure is a really hard thing to stand up to, the best I can say is that if you’re being bullied, tell someone, don’t just hide away and hope it’ll stop if you do nothing. I know that sometimes telling a teacher or your parents or something can seem like the worst thing to do but it’s the only way to get the problem solved. As far as being pressurized into doing something you shouldn’t goes, it’s hard to say no to your friends but sometimes saying no is the only way to keep your self respect and at the end of the day that’s the only thing that counts.
[Katie/Jess] Before Tally wakes up, she decides to sleep with her boyfriend, do you think that teenagers sexual morals have changed from the time when you were at school?
I think a lot of girls are pressurized into having sex, whether it’s because all their friends have done it or their boyfriend says it’s the only way to prove you love him or something stupid like that. At the end of the day, sex is a big thing and if you think that by sleeping with someone you’ll be ‘cool’, think about having a baby while you’re still at school, cool huh? Didn’t think so. Sadly, sexual morals are still pretty much the same as when I was at school, all the ‘cool’ kids did it. And yeah, a few of those ‘cool’ kids had two years old kids by the time they sat their GCSEs
[Katie/Jess] The book isn’t all-serious though; do you have any favourite, more comedic, parts of the book?
I do like the parts when Tally first wakes up and some of the conversations she has with the doctors. Her whole life has fallen apart and yet she still manages to worry about her image.
[Katie/Jess] What was your favourite part to write/ favourite character?
I’m gonna have to say that I loved writing Tally, I loved the way the character kind of grew as I wrote, I had loads of criteria for her to meet, but still she did surprise me at times, which sounds odd, but will make sense to you if you’ve ever written.
[Katie/Jess] We’ve heard that the book is being released over seas ‘oo-er’ do you think that the book will appeal to American teens in the same way as those from the U.K?
I hope it does, I’ve had a few people from ‘over the pond’ read it, both young and old and they all liked it. I think that just as we like to read books about American teenage life, they like to read about English teenage life…at least I hope they do!
[Katie/Jess] ‘Blackout’ isn’t the only thing you’ve written, is it Joey? Have you ever written anything that now, looking back on it just makes you cringe?
If I listed all of that we’d be here for years, but yeah, a few things spring to mind that I wish I could go back and erase from existence, until then they’ll sit in a box hidden in my flat growing dust.
- What else can we expect from you in the future?
I have two other books written that will be released in the not too distant future, and I’m working on the sequel to one of them at the moment.
- When all your other books have been released, what do you plan on writing about next?
Well, one of my finished books and the one I’m working on now are part of a five book series, so I plan to get them finished as well as writing a few books on other things, but to be honest I don’t know what they’ll be able, I just write what the ideas bring me.
[Katie/Jess] Do you have any advice for people like me who like to write and would like to make a job out of it?
Keep at it. I’m serious, I started writing my books when I was nineteen, I’m twenty-three now and I have numerous rejection letters in my storage room at home. For every person that says no, there’s always going to be one that says yes. Don’t be discouraged and keep writing, keep doing what you love.
[Katie/Jess] Finally, We’ve been asked, by a good friend of yours to ask you: ‘ What’s your favourite biscuit?’
Ermm…I don’t really have one, but seeing as I know this good friend of mine, I’m going to say malted milk.
[Goodbyes and thank-you’s- last minute info- repeat release date, title, publishing info etc]