Saturday, 4 February 2012

INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Saving Daisy by Phil Earle

SAVING DAISY by Phil Earle

Click to jump to the interview with Phil Earle and click here to win a copy of the book.

Publisher: Puffin
Publication details: 05.01.2012, £6.99 PB

Daisy's mum is gone.
He dad refuses to talk about it.
As far as Daisy's concerned, it's all her fault.
As her life starts to spiral out of control, panic leads to tragedy and Daisy's left alone.

But sometimes the kindness of a stranger can turn things around. A stranger who desperately wants to save Daisy. If only she'll let herself be saved...

SAVING DAISY is the follow up to Phil Earle's astounding first novel BEING BILLY. But it is actually more of a prequel. Billy's spiky and fragile best friend Daisy gets to tell her story.

You can find out a bit more about the book from my review here, but just know that this book packs an emotional punch. It explores a mental breakdown and the gradual process of recovery in a raw and honest way, with characters who seem like they've stepped from real life and into the pages. 

Phil was lovely enough to answer my questions about the book and about writing amazing things in general. (And have a look at the bottom of the page, where you can find out how to win a copy of SAVING DAISY!)

When you were writing Being Billy did you know you would tell Daisy’s story too? 

Not really. The first time I thought about writing Daisy’s story was when my agent told me I needed an idea for a second book. I went into a blind panic, and Daisy was the first person I thought about. She really interested me as she’s spiky and heroic, but also obviously damaged. I was desperate to give her the backstory she deserved.

Was it difficult to go from writing Daisy in the third person to telling the story as Daisy?

It was certainly taking up a lot of headspace at first, more out of fear, as there’s nothing worse than reading a first person narrative when you don’t believe in the ‘voice’ you’re hearing. I got over that in the end, but the fact that I’ve never been a fourteen year old girl did worry me for a while! My wife told me it shouldn’t be a stretch at all, as did my friends…they’re so supportive.

Do you map out your characters first or do you write and see where they take you?

I’ve learnt quickly that tons of preparation doesn’t work for me, if anything it stops me writing. I tend to scribble out a two page synopsis then never look at it again. I love just going with it. When I started writing Daisy, I had no characters formed in my mind apart from her and her dad. It’s really exciting to find other characters invading the story!

It’s certainly an emotional read – did you find it emotionally draining to write the book?

If I found it draining, it was more to do with how long the first draft took, rather than the themes affecting me. I wrote the first pass of ‘Being Billy’ in four months, so it flowed quickly out of my heads. With ‘Daisy’, my wife was pregnant and we were moving house, so I failed to write as often. It was a real lesson learnt. Write frequently and it’s a much happier experience.

You’ve worked with young people like Billy and like Daisy. Was it this experience that made you want to write YA fiction?

In part, yes. But the experience that focused me on children’s fiction was working in a bookshop and discovering the YA genre. I completely fell in love with it and devoured every book I could lay my hands on. From that moment I knew I wanted to give YA a stab myself.

Are Billy and Daisy based on real people?

Billy drew inspiration from many young people I’d worked with, but not one specific child. I’m always really careful not to present real people as characters. I’d hate them to find the book and discover I’d ripped off their lives. Daisy, believe it or not, is actually based on me. I suffered a lot from anxiety and depression in my twenties, and although I hadn’t planned it to be, the book became about my fight with mental health issues.

Did you talk to young people working through mental issues as research for this book?

I didn’t, no. I’d worked with young people who had self-harmed and observed what they went through. Writing about it was my way of trying to make sense of what drives someone to purposely hurt themselves. There are scenes in the book, where Daisy suffers from terrible muscle spasms due to the drugs she’s prescribed, that actually happened to me. This first-hand experience feels like the best research imaginable.

Do you hope that your books will encourage people to talk about mental health and see it as less of a taboo?

I understand that depression isn’t an easy thing to own up as it’s often seen as a sign of weakness. It takes real bravery to stand up and say I need help, it really does. The important message is that it isn’t your fault, and that help is out there. Silence really is a killer and no-one should suffer alone. The other thing I’ve learnt is that whilst depression is a terrible thing to endure, it doesn’t have to define you or your life. Without my depression, I wouldn’t have ever started writing. My depression led me here, to a much happier place.

Which writers have inspired you to write?

So many! SE Hinton, David Almond, Kevin Brooks, Siobhan Dowd, Keith Gray, Markus Zusak, David Klass, Morris Gleitzman, Melvin Burgess. The list could go on forever.

Which books have you enjoyed recently?

I’ve just finished and enjoyed Dave Cousins 15 DAYS WITHOUT A HEAD and am currently reading BLACK HEART BLUE by Louisa Reid, which is brilliantly written. I’m also going back to my first love, graphic novels, and re-reading DAREDEVIL. Brilliant stuff!

What are your tips for young writers?

Find what works for you and stick to it. The best thing about writing is that there are no rules. I would recommend reading as much as possible, it definitely worked for me.

If you could be any book character who would you be?

Flat Stanley, without a doubt. He never let being an inch thick get in the way of having brilliant adventures. The boy is a legend.

I have a copy of SAVING DAISY which I will post to one lucky person! Just comment below or send me an email (

A powerful and moving story linked to Phil’s critically acclaimed debut book, Being Billy. Watch the brilliant trailer here:

1 comment:

  1. This sounds really interesting, I'd love to be entered for a giveaway. Thanks.