Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Bryony Pearce?
Bryony Pearce lives in the Forest of Dean and is a full time mum to her two children, husband and cat. She is vegetarian and loves chocolate, wine and writing. People are often surprised at how dark her writing is, as she is generally pretty nice.
When the children let her off taxi duty, she enjoys doing school visits, festivals and events.
Your new novel, Phoenix Burning, is published by Stripes. How would you introduce the series to a potential reader?
The Phoenix series is set in a post-apocalyptic world, that is much changed from our own, the now poisonous seas are full of junk and our hero, Toby, lives on a pirate ship that is searching for an semi-mythical island where the crew can be safe from the governments that hunt them.
What can fans of the first novel expect from book two?
Book two has more of Toby and Ayla, but this time the majority of the book is set on land, around a heist (they are pirates after all). There are new characters, old friends and some real growing up to do. Its darker than the first book and the characters are really put through the wringer.
What inspired you to write the novel and series? And where do you draw your inspiration from in general?
As a writer I am always curious, always asking myself ‘what if’; inspiration comes from all around me – from news stories, to science articles, to history, art, music, literature. The central idea of Toby’s world came from the environmental disasters that we are currently facing – did you know that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean? If things go on we will be facing the same poisoned sea that Toby does.
I wanted the ‘end-of-the-world’ scenario that precedes Toby’s birth to be quite real, something that we could conceivably face if things don’t change. From coming up with the world, it was a small step to imagine the stories of the people who populate it – what would the priorities and needs be of a humanity living in this environment? Food, shelter, security, sources of energy…
How were you introduced to genre fiction?
I’ve been reading it all my life – my dad had a bookcase in the spare room with nothing but science fiction and fantasy in it. My first literary loves were Anne Macaffrey and David Gemmell. No-one writers great character driven science fiction like Macaffrey!
How do you like being a writer and working within the publishing industry?
It’s a dream come true. I’ve never wanted to be anything other than a writer – I took a few detours along the way, but I’m here now and Stripes are wonderful to work with.
Do you have any specific working, writing, researching practices?
With two children, who have grown from babies alongside my career, I’ve had to be flexible. For example, with Maisie, who slept pretty reliably till 7am (after the first year that is), I was able to set my alarm for 5 and do two hours work before she woke. Riley, on the other hand, didn’t sleep until he was two and a half and I had to give up that practice through sheer exhaustion. Now they’re both at school I can write during the day.
I do a lot of research – I never start writing until I have a complete plot and chapter by chapter outline and a fully realised setting, and that often involves a great deal of research. I never work to ‘word count’, I simply set myself daily goals like ‘I want to finish this scene’ or ‘I want to reach this point in the chapter’ and try and get there.
When did you realize you wanted to be an author, and what was your first foray into writing? Do you still look back on it fondly?
As I said, I’ve always wanted to be an author – from the moment I first realised that actual people wrote the books I loved so much I wanted to be one of them.
From the minute I could write I started writing stories.
One of my earlier writing memories was winning a local schools competition. A visiting dignitary came to give the prize and the papers were there to record the moment for prosperity.
Just before they called my name, the button popped off my skirt.
As I went up to collect my prize, I was also holding up my skirt.
Then the photographer insisted on staging a photo with me taking the prize with one hand… and shaking the mayor’s hand with the other.
You can imagine what happened as the flash went off!
What’s your opinion of the genre today, and where do you see your work fitting into it?
The genre today is incredible – the imagination in the stories being written, the quality of the writing, the incisive editing, the gorgeous book designs, are leaving readers absolutely spoiled for choice. I wish I had grown up in such a fertile time for YA.
Although I read a lot of YA literature, I still feel quite jealous of the teenagers who are having their own minds shaped by the wonderful books that are out there and who can find a book about almost any issue that they might be thinking about.
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline, and what are you working on at the moment?
I have a novel coming out on the first of April, called Wavefunction, which is straight up science fiction about a boy who can jump between universes and is based on Homer’s Odyssey. I am also about to start writing my next one, which has been in the planning stages for some time. I’m really excited about it – watch this space.
What are you reading at the moment (fiction, non-fiction)?
I’m going through a Dresden Files phase at the moment – I’m on book nine…
What’s something readers might be surprised to learn about you?
I’ve had a total hip replacement, can occasionally still be seen on crutches and have perfected the art of reading while walking on a crutch and pushing a pram – which is quite a feat frankly. I am a karate purple belt (thanks to the ‘fighting research’ I did for the Phoenix series) and I am a pretty good shot – I got my marksman when I was a teenager and enjoy shocking my husband with my Nerf gun prowess!
What are you most looking forward to in the next twelve months
The summer holidays – we moved from Cheshire to the Forest of Dean a few months ago. I can’t wait to spend what I’m hoping will be an idyllic summer in our new house. One of the reasons for buying it was the amazing garden – I’m looking forward to seeing what flowers I have and planting my own vegetable patch!