Interview - LJ Adlington, author of The Diary of Pelly D.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): In Too Far by Acceptance.

You horrible people. You leave me to decide what to name a teen room on my own. But I won't hold it against you. Because I'm nice like that. Today is a treat. Today we get to hear from the talented LJ Adlington, author of The Diary of Pelly D, which I reviewed a little while back (it is a great dystopian people, if you are needing a fix until Mockingjay comes out). So away we go!

I noticed your biography in the back said that you have a keen interest in war diaries, which inspired Pelly D. So is Pelly D based off of a real person?

Pelly D herself is fictional, and her voice is her own. This said, there are many surviving diaries of teenagers in Europe during the war years. For me, writing Pelly D & Cherry Heaven was a chance to find a new way to bring their hopes/fears/fates to a new audience, through fiction rather than History. Many readers have drawn parallels with Anne Frank of course. I won't say Anne was far from my thoughts, but she doesn't need anyone to speak for her, she does such a marvellous job of speaking for herself.
Pelly D is just one more ghost whose voice survives in scraps of paper.

Your dating system for Pelly's diary is very interesting. Could you tell us a little of how you thought it up? What is the significance of it?

The dating system is entirely unsystematic & unscientific. I wanted the reader gradually to become aware that the weeks & months aren't following a pattern familiar to us, but one that's totally normal for Toni V & Pelly D. It's meant to be slightly disorientating but not too significant.

I loved the gills, I have to admit it. But why did you have it so that we all evolved and developed gills? :)

The gills are very slightly justified in the text, in that colonists were transported in pre-birth forms (test tubes) & that there was an unspecified glitch during the development process which meant that the gills all human embryos have weren't lost as the embryos matured. Apart from the fact that I love the idea of breathing underwater (I've been following research into the actual production of artificial gills & it seems that so far they've only be created for short-term use with small-sized canines!) it's also crucial to the culture of the colony planet. The colonists rely on water for hydration but also for pleasure. When water seems to be in short supply, profiteers can start making money, leaders can start coercing populations and prejudices are sharpened in the inevitable scramble for resources.

Just a curiosity question: how many years has it been since the first colonists arrived on their world and settled there?

By this stage you may have realised that it's the philosophy and politics of the colony world that interests me more than the science - does that make me a bad sci-fi writer?? I had a general idea that it's something like 100 odd years since the world was settled. Long enough for people to keep new ideals alive & build new cities; not so long their old planetary history is forgotten and all engineering structures are fully in place. I specifically wanted an emerging colony, otherwise I felt the cities would be better able to manage the water crisis, plus I wanted a sense that there are vast, uncolonised spaces. In particular, the so-called New Frontier, which is explored more in Cherry Heaven. this is not a fully established world, it's a community that's over-confident about it's own survival.

Did you have to cut out anything, editors or otherwise?

Editors in the US & UK were mostly interested in hearing more, to be honest; expanding the story and the characters. I believe it's quite a sparse story. I've deliberately shied away from describing the ghettoes in detail, or the actual mechanics of the genocide. I think the subtle horror is more effective. Either that, or readers can turn to history to read about the terrible mechanics of the WW2 Holocaust.

For US authors I had to modify the language a little - they weren't confident American readers would understand what 'snogging' is...!

How closely does your sequel/companion novel, Cherry Heaven, tie in with The Diary of Pelly D? Are you planning on writing any more books in this world?

Cherry Heaven is set in the same year as Toni V discovers the diary. It can be read separately, but it is closely linked in that it picks up on themes from Pelly D and develops them further. I was interested in exploring issues of what happens after a war. How do survivors react, for example. Is vengeance or justice possible/desirable?

I don't have plans to revisit the world, although the fate of Gim D during the war years does tickle my mind from time to time.

And last one. Do you have a favorite unknown or forgotten book that no one seems to know about that you would like to share with us?

I adore 'The Count of Monte Cristo' by Alexander Dumas. It's a superbly absorbing 19th Century tale of vengeance - more than a little in my mind when writing Cherry Heaven. It's not especially unknown or forgotten. Every once in a while a bad TV/film adaptation is attempted.

For a more obscure read, I rather like 'Lady Molly of Scotland Yard' by Baroness Orczy, of 'Scarlett Pimpernel' fame. Lady Molly is a terribly British Edwardian sleuth...

That is so wonderful. Thank you for the interview!


Katie said...

Good interview, and her book sounds really interesting!

Heather Zundel said...

KM - Thanks, and it really is.