ABOUT THIS MONTH’S AUTHOR
Helen Douglas is originally from Newlyn in Cornwall. She graduated from the LSE with a degree in economic history and after a stint as a subeditor in London, she moved to California, where she co-founded a theatre company and worked as a director. After a few years in New York she and her husband moved back to Cornwall to raise their children. Helen trained as an English teacher at Exeter University and went onto teach at her old secondary school, which was also the inspiration for the school in the book.
ABOUT THE BOOK
When mysterious new boy Ryan Westland shows up at her school Eden Anfield is intrigued. On the face of it, he’s a typical American teenager. So how come he doesn’t recognise pizza and hasn’t heard of Hitler? What puzzles Eden most, however, is the interest he’s taking in her.
As Eden falls in love with Ryan, she stumbles across a book in Ryan’s bedroom – a biography of her best friend – written fifty years in the future. Unravelling Ryan’s secret, she discovers he has one unbelievably important purpose . . . and she might just have destroyed his only chance of success.
TEN QUESTIONS WITH HELEN DOUGLAS
Describe yourself in five words?
Optimistic, sceptical, determined, daydreamer, bookworm.
Who or what was your biggest influence in deciding to become a writer?
I was about seven when I decided I wanted to be a writer and I really don’t remember what influenced me other than a love of books in general. But the person who encouraged me to take writing for publication seriously, is the children’s /YA writer Chris Higgins. I was about to apply for a promotion at work, when she reminded me it would cut into my writing time enormously. I thought about it for a few days and realised she was right. If I was ever going to realise my dream of being a published author, I would need to reduce my workload rather than add to it. So I didn’t apply for the job; instead I used the time gained to write After Eden.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Read widely, not just in your genre or age group. When a book isn’t working for you, figure out why. When you love a book, figure out why. Read for pleasure but also read to learn.
Which of your characters did you most enjoy writing?
Ryan. He has a secret, so when writing him, what he said and did were rarely what they seemed on the surface. That’s so much fun as a writer.
Which character from a book would you like to be for a day?
Katniss from The Hunger Games before she goes into the games. I’d love to know how it feels to be so capable and self-sufficient.
If you hadn’t been an author, what would you have been?
When I was younger I was really interested in theatre and film and I did a bit of theatre directing. I would love to have been a film director.
When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?
Reading (obviously), hanging out at the beach, hiking, camping, talking about books and writing.
What book, film and album would you take to a desert island? (feel free to elaborate on your choices)
Book: Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. Everyone needs a good bedtime story.
Film: Into The Wild directed by Sean Penn. It’s an adaptation of a great non-fiction book by Jon Krakauer about a young man who chooses to leave behind his worldly possessions and head deep into the wild. The landscapes are beautiful filmed, the soundtrack by Eddie Vedder is gorgeous and the film’s theme about the importance of having other people in your life is perfectly done.
Album: Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd.
What television programmes do you never miss?
I rarely watch live TV – I’m more of a film / box set sort of person. But this month I will be watching the final episodes of Breaking Bad. Can’t wait!
Tell us something about your next project
I’ve just started a project about four sixteen year olds who go camping in the woods. One of the girls is abducted and only one of them knows what happened to her, and what she must do if her friend is to ever come back.