Author Q&A with F.L. Darbyshire

I’m very excited today to be able to share an interview with the lovely Fay Darbyshire, author of Even Angels Fall. If you missed my earlier review, it can be found here. 

Hi Fay, a big welcome from us over at Curious Ginger Cat and thank you for taking the time to do a little Q&A for our readers. We’ve recently reviewed your debut book Even Angels Fall on the blog (we loved it, by the way!) and we would love to hear more about you and the book. 
1. To start with, please can you tell us a little bit about Even Angels Fall?
     Hi Kirsty, thank you very much for having me! Even Angels Fall tells the story of Abbey Miller, an eighteen year old girl who has recently moved to Leeds with her family after the tragic loss of a loved one. She feels very isolated and alone due to her grief and as she struggles to adjust to her new surroundings and all of the changes that have happened to her, she meets a new group of friends who have a very different outlook on life than what she is used to. They are heavily involved in drink, drugs and hard partying and although at first it is an escape for Abbey, it isn’t long until things begin to unravel in a very dangerous way and she finds herself in serious trouble. 
     2. Where did the idea for the story come from?
     I first developed the story as part of my Film Studies course at college. We we’re asked to devise a screenplay – or at least outline a basic plot – that dealt with problems and serious issues faced by teenagers and young adults and it all went from there really. I worked on it as a screenplay for several years before deciding to turn it into my first novel. The story has changed quite a lot in that time. 
      3.   What sort of characters can we expect to meet in Even Angels Fall?
The first word that comes to mind is flawed, especially when referring to the group of friends that become like a family to Abbey. They haven’t had the greatest of starts in life which is why they make a lot of the decisions they do. They are lost and are just trying to make the best out of the hand they have been dealt. They make a lot of mistakes and a lot of bad judgement calls, but despite that, deep down they aren’t bad people. I like characters that are multi-layered and complicated, because that is real to me. They aren’t saints, but they aren’t villains either. It is never that black and white.
4.  Who was your favourite character to write in the book and why?
The one I enjoyed writing the most I think, out of all of the characters, is Marcus. He is such a nasty piece of work. He is a thug but he likes to think of himself as and old school gangster type, so to emphasise that I wanted him to speak really eloquently. He has this air of sophistication about him when really he is totally psychotic, so that was fun to write.
5.   If you were casting Abbey Miller in a movie, and you had the whole acting world at your feet, who would you cast?
     I honestly have no idea on that one! There are a lot of British actresses I admire who do fantastic work. I guess it would just be a case of whoever fit the role! 
     6. How did you want readers to feel whilst reading Even Angels Fall? Were there any particular emotions that you wanted to evoke from your readers? 

I wanted to challenge them and to challenge their opinion on the stereotypes they might have expected to see in this kind of story. I know a lot of reviewers said they felt conflicted. They knew that they shouldn’t really be rooting for the characters in certain parts of the book and that they perhaps shouldn’t be feeling sympathy for them, but knowing deep down that they are good people caught up in a series of awful situations meant they still wanted them to succeed. All of the characters make bad choices throughout the story, but I wanted the reader to understand the reasons behind those choices and the circumstances that lead them there. I wanted them to feel connected to the characters and to feel empathy for what they we’re going through, despite how extreme it may be.

7.  What did you find the most challenging about writing Even Angels Fall?
I think the most challenging part was developing the characters so that they all contributed to the story. It is told mainly from Abbey’s point of view, but I didn’t want it to be just about Abbey and the journey she is on. I wanted all of the characters to have their own personalities and their own individual stories running alongside, so that on some level, the reader can connect with all of them and understand who they are and what they are going through.  
8.  This is your debut novel, how have you found the writing & publishing experience so far?
I really enjoyed it. I have learnt so much from this experience and it was fascinating to see a story I have worked on for so long go from a word document on my computer to an actual physical book that I could hold in my hands. The publishers I worked with, Grosvenor House Publishing, we’re incredible. Everyone I dealt with could not have been more helpful or more encouraging and that made a huge difference. They we’re extremely supportive from start to end, so I feel very lucky to have worked with them the first time out.
9. Was there a moment when you just knew you wanted to be an author, or was it more of a gradual thing? When/where did it all begin for you?
I wasn’t overly academic at school, I was fairly middle of the road to be honest, but I was always better with creative subjects. I enjoyed art and photography, but English was something I always loved and always felt I was quite good at. My Nana read to me a lot when I was little and she encouraged me to write short stories and to put my imagination down onto paper. I think it just developed from there really.
      10.  How did you celebrate the publication day?
It was fairly low key to be honest, I just had a drink or two with my boyfriend and I took a copy to my Mum because I wanted to see her reaction! She cried, which I knew she would!
     11.  When looking back over your experiences regarding being a published author, what has been your favourite moment to date?
Holding a copy of the book in my hands for the first time was quite surreal and a great feeling, but my favourite moment has to be an email I received from a lady in America who read my book on the anniversary of her sons passing. She took the time afterwards to contact me and told me how she really connected with the story and particularly the character of Janet (Abbey’s Mum). She told me how she thought it was very sad but very real and she just wanted to say thank you for writing it. That was pretty special; to know that someone not only enjoyed my book but it moved them in that way. I was really touched by that.
     12.  Do you have any tips for aspiring authors who may be reading this? Anything that works great for yourself?
Just keep going. I think one of the hardest things as a first time author, or for any author I imagine, is the days when you question everything you have written! Some days you can feel really good about it and feel like the story is really coming along and then you can spend the next three days at a complete loss and with a complete mental block, not knowing what to write! Just persevere because eventually it will pay off!
     13.  I’ve seen a lot of great reviews for Even Angels Fall, how do you or how do you think you will deal with any negative reviews?
I have had a couple reviews that weren’t so great, but you can’t let it get to you too much. I try to take on board any criticism and turn it into something constructive if I can, but you have to accept that you are never going to be everyone’s cup of tea! A couple of months back I got two reviews in the space of about 12 hours. One was a really positive five star review and the other didn’t like my book at all! What I found interesting was every single point the positive review made as a reason why they loved the book, the other reviewer had listed the exact same reasons as why they didn’t like it! So at the end of the day I think it all comes down to personal preference! Not everyone will like your work, but that’s ok!
     14.  What’s your writing process? Did you plan/plot the story or just start writing and see where it took you?
I did plan to an extent. I knew who the characters were and their back stories and I knew the general direction I wanted the narrative to go in. But a lot sort of developed and changed along the way without me really thinking too much about it beforehand.
     15.  Did the book ever take a different path to what you initially intended?
The story has changed quite a lot since I first came up with the idea. There were different events that took place that I eventually felt didn’t need to be in there and the fate of some of the characters turned out a bit differently to what I intended! Sometimes the story just develops as you are writing it and you just go with it! The ending was always the same though, which is what I get the most abuse for! Haha!
     16.  What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
Probably going back to what I said in question 12. Just keep going, work through the writers block, try not to be too overly critical of your work and just enjoy the process of bringing a story and its characters to life.
So, enough about the writing/publishing process. Our reader would love to know a little more about you (i.e. the woman behind the book!):-
     17.  Were you a reader before becoming a writer?
I read a lot when I was younger, but these days I don’t read as much as I should if I’m honest!
     18.  Do you get much time to read yourself? If so, what are some of your recent favourite books and/or authors?
The last book I recently finished was The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins. I really enjoyed it. I liked the way the story evolved and how it was written from three different characters perspectives with times and dates as headings; that was really interesting to me. I also quite like the fact that none of the three lead characters were particularly likeable. They all had a lot of issues and were morally challenged, but again, I feel as though that’s just a more real approach. They were far from perfect but they weren’t completely horrible either. People are never one dimensional!
     19.  What’s your favourite way to relax when you’re not busy writing?
Just spending time with family, friends and my boyfriend. I have a great group of mates and it doesn’t really matter where we are or what we’re doing to be honest, we always have a laugh!
     20.  Are you currently writing your next book and, if so, can you share any information about it with us?
I have a few ideas, some of which have been put down onto paper, but nothing is set in stone yet! I’ll keep you posted! 😉
     21.  How would your best friend describe you?
Well, I asked my friend Sophia this question. She is one of my best friends in the world and she said some lovely things bless her, a few of which were loyal, caring, fun, organised and a great cackle! (I have an excruciatingly loud laugh!!!)
And finally, the Quick Fire Round:-
      22.  Tea or coffee?

Tea… I’m from Yorkshire!
      23.  Beach holiday or cultural/sightseeing holiday?
A mixture of both! I like to explore new places but a bit of time to chill out is always good!
      24.  Sun or snow?

Sun! I’m terrible with cold weather!
      25.  Chocolate – in the fridge or not?

No, it’s got to be room temp for me!
      26.  Wine – red or white?

Yes please! 😉
      27.  Sweet or savory?

I’m more of a savoury girl!
      28.  Reading – ebook or physical book?

I’m old school when it comes to books! I definitely prefer a physical copy!
Thanks so much for visiting Curious Ginger Cat – it’s been brilliant to find out more about you and about Even Angels Fall!
You’re very welcome! Thanks so much again for having me!

About the Author

Even Angels Fall is the debut novel by twenty seven year old first time writer, Fay Louise Darbyshire. Born and raised in Leeds, Fay finished High School at the age of sixteen and went on to enroll at Leeds College of Art and Design where she studied Media, Film and English.After graduating into the world of full time employment, her passion for writing remained and she spent several years developing film scripts and screen plays in her spare time, until finally deciding to adapt one of her stories into a book in late 2013. 

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