About the author
Chantelle Atkins was born and raised in Dorset, England and still resides there now with her husband, four children and multiple pets. She is addicted to both reading and music, and is on a mission to become as self-sufficient as possible. She writes for both the young adult and adult genres. Her fiction is described as gritty, edgy and compelling. Her debut Young Adult novel The Mess Of Me deals with eating disorders, self-harm, fractured families and first love. Her second novel, The Boy With The Thorn In His Side follows the musical journey of a young boy attempting to escape his brutal home life. She is also the author of This Is Nowhere, This Is The Day and has recently released a collection of short stories related to her novels called Bird People and Other Stories. Chantelle has had mulitiple articles about writing published by Author’s Publish magazine, and is also a reviewer with Underground Book Reviews.
Welcome to Mrs Red’s Review, please can you start by telling us about your latest book?
My latest book, or the most recently released one, was the short story collection Bird People and Other Stories. This came out in May 2016 and is a collection of stories, and character snapshots which are all related to my novels, those published as well as those yet to be released. There are also some alternative endings, and scenes from different characters points of view. The idea was to create a book which my current readers would enjoy, as there are lots of stories related to the characters they know, but also a book which would act as a teaser for my stories, and a sample of my style and genre.
The book I am currently working on and hope to release this summer, is Elliot Pie’s Guide To Human Nature, a story about a 12-year-old boy who tries to prove to his agoraphobic mother that people are not all bad by following and befriending strangers. It’s about his journey into optimism and friendship, and his mother’s spiral into despair. He goes missing towards the end of the book and the question is, which of the strangers was a threat to him?
Are there any characters you found hard to write? Are there any you particularly loved or hated?
I actually found some of the characters in this latest book (Elliot Pie’s Guide To Human Nature) hard to write, because I didn’t want to paint them as all bad or all good. There had to be enough positive things about them for Elliot to want to befriend them, but they also had to have suspicious elements to their characters, and it was hard to get this right!
As for characters I have loved or hated, my most loved character is Danny in The Boy With The Thorn In His Side, as his character had been in my head since I first drafted the novel at age 12! I rewrote it many times over the years and so he is without a doubt, the character I know the best and to me, it feels like he is real and a part of my life. And as for hated, it has to be his nemesis in the book, the antagonist Lee Howard. He is a vile and dangerous man and as the book is written in first person from alternating points of view, I really had to climb inside his mind and understand his motivations, which was horrible and fascinating at the same time.
You focus a lot on outsiders in your work, perhaps those who aren’t most popular, or finding it easy to get through life. Does some of this draw on your own experience growing up?
Yes, I do tend to write about outsiders and misfits, and I only really noticed this fairly recently. It was a kind of sub-conscious thing. I tend to seek out unlikely anti-heroes when reading too. I don’t trust perfect people. I like damaged, flawed and confused characters. I also noticed, that while my characters are all on the outside, they are happy to be there. They are all messed up in their own way, but strong enough to feel proud of their individuality. This probably does relate to me as a child and a teenager. I knew I didn’t fit in, and would never be one of the ‘cool kids’ but that was just fine with me, as I had a totally different idea of what was cool!
What’s next for you?
What’s next for me is getting Elliot Pie’s Guide To Human Nature finished. I’ve been working on it on and off for two years. I started The Tree Of Rebels first, which is a YA dystopian novel, and whenever this was ‘breathing’ or with beta readers, I would work on Elliot Pie. I would then go back and forth between the two novels. The result of this is they have both had about a million drafts now, but I am still not quite happy to let them go. I am working on Elliot Pie first, and I am determined to get it done, so that I can then give The Tree Of Rebels the same treatment. They are both so close and I cannot wait to get them out there. They are very different books and have both been a real challenge for very different reasons.
I also penned the first draft of another YA book while I was having a break from Elliot Pie and Tree Of Rebels. I just needed to write something fresh, and it did me the world of good. It’s based on a story I wrote when I was 16 and recently discovered in an old suitcase! I immediately got excited about the characters again, and the urge to write it was so strong, I just went for it. Obviously, it needs loads of work and I won’t get back to it for a while now. There are stories related to it in Bird People and Other Stories though. I also have a four book post-apocalyptic YA series planned and plotted and driving me crazy!
What was the last book you read?
The last book I read was Tree Magic by Harriet Springbett, a book and author I discovered on Book Connectors! The title and cover caught my eye, and as I am somewhat obsessed with trees, it seemed like it would suit me. It was amazing and I highly recommend it!
If you could recommend one of your books for us to read, what would it be?
I would recommend The Boy With The Thorn In His Side. Why? Because it is long, so you can get comfy and settle in. It’s set in the 1990’s. so there is an awesome soundtrack of grunge and Britpop. It’s a coming of age, which teeters into thriller, psychological and also horror territory. I’m really proud of it, and there is the sequel, This Is The Day!
If you could be any fictional character, who would you choose, and why?
If I could be any fictional character, I would be Holden Caulfield, because I have always felt like that book was written just for me, and I have always believed that Holden and I could be very good friends!
Are you on Facebook and Twitter? How can we follow you?
You can follow me on Facebook here:
Chantelle Atkins-Writer. 1,134 likes · 73 talking about this. Writer
And Twitter here: https://twitter.com/Chanatkins