Edyth Bulbring talks about A MONTH WITH APRIL- MAY, the first in a series of novels about a feisty teenage girl fighting for survival in, well, the very real world. Edyth shares her inspiration for the novel and discusses its defiance of typical classification…
Where did the idea come from for the book?
The idea, like a lot of the ideas for my books, came from one of my children. A couple of years back, my daughter was going through a rough spot. She didn’t want to go to school, she was sleeping a lot, and her grades were dropping. I finally figured out that she was having a bad time with one of her teachers. And knowing my daughter, the teacher was probably having a rotten time of it too. It got me thinking about the effect that one teacher can have on the life of a child. And how teachers have the ability to make or break pupils – and vice versa. It also got me wondering about the miscommunication that happens between people and how sometimes it sets us off on a course of action we can’t stop, even when things are heading for a train smash. So I decided to write about a teacher and a student who butted heads and things got out of hand. In my daughter’s case, things didn’t end happily. Writing this book was a way of turning things around and giving the story a different ending.
What genre does your book fall under?
I know labelling books and giving them genre tags is supposed to be a good thing. It helps people choose the kind of books they have enjoyed reading in the past. But I’m not a big fan of labels and tags. I always want to defy them. When I started writing A Month with April-May, I simply wanted to tell a good story. I didn’t even think about who I was writing for or what sort of tag it would get. But, if I had to label it, I’d say it would live with those books called Young Adult. Although I think old adults might enjoy it too. It’s got loads of humour, a bit of romance and lots of heart. It’s for boys who like feisty girls and girls who have minds of their own. And for people who want to laugh.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
That’s a tough one. I know I would ask Jodie Foster to direct the movie because I think she’s fantastic. And I would give walk-on parts to Johnny Depp, John Travolta, Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Craig. Just so that I could meet them when I went to visit the set. As for April-May. I think I would ask that nice Colin Firth (my casting director) to decide on her. Because I would want her to be completely unknown and original. As she is.
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
It’s about family and friendship; about the people who stick by you when you mess up. (See my crafty abuse of the semicolon to sneak in two sentences.)
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
It took me about six weeks. I try and write the first draft of my books really fast. Because I’m not one of those disciplined writers who plan and have an outline of a book. I‘ve never been to a writing class so I am not sure how to do it. So I lurch from chapter to chapter, never quite sure how one will end and the next will begin. It’s a bit of a roller coaster ride and I go a bit loopy in the process, sort of in a bit of a panic as to what comes next. And so of course, I drive my family a bit mental. I don’t behave very well and forget to cook (which they don’t mind, I’m so lousy) but I also neglect buying school shoes and food and don’t take them to the dentist, and such like. So I need to finish the manuscript quickly before things completely unravel.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I am moved to write by the people I love most in the world – my three children. My daughter Sophie, who is a middle child, is a very original girl. She shakes her world. My son Jack, who is not yet a teen, is the most generous person I have ever met. He restores my faith in people. My other daughter Emily is difficult to describe, except she glows, and makes everyone light up around her. She’s grown up now and has become my friend, which makes me very happy. I am in awe as to how funny and clever and nice my children are, despite me.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I think readers may be intrigued by the relationship between April-May and bad boy Sebastian, the love interest in the book. There’s something in many girls which draws them to the kind of boys that mothers don’t want to have around to Sunday lunch. We may settle down with the good ones in the end, but it’s the bad ones that initially set out pulses racing. And sometimes the bad boys are really not so bad. They just behave badly, which is something that can change. I like Sebastian a lot. And I know why April-May does too.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
My book was first published by Penguin in South Africa in 2010 and it is being published by Hot Key in the UK in February 2013.
Dorothy Dyer is the author of historical teen novel, Reading the Wind, and is the co-writer of a children’s time travel book called Time Twisters. She also writes for the Harmony High series, which aims to get South African teens reading, where her latest book was called ‘Two-faced friends’.
Jayne Bauling formerly wrote seventeen women’s fiction novels before making the transition to YA where her first three novels have won awards.