Monday, March 12, 2012

Guest Post: The Ten Random Life Experiences that led to Skin Deep

Hi everyone! I’m part of the Skin Deep blog tour (Egmont UK) and today I have Laura, the author of Skin Deep. I hope you guys stick around to find out more about this intriguing novel. If you're looking for YA contemporary with romance, this is perfect!

The Ten Random Life Experiences that led to Skin Deep
  1. When I about seven, there used to be a guy who got on the no. 64 bus at the same time as me and my mum on Saturday afternoons when we were going shopping in Manchester. He had a port wine birth mark that stretched right across his face and into his mouth. It made his lip swollen and constantly wet. I used to stare at him, not to be rude but because I couldn’t stop looking in the same way you can’t stop picking at a scab when you’re small. I remember one time he caught me, and he smiled. I was quite shy of strangers at that age so I didn’t smile back and looked away. But I was ashamed of staring at him. I thought about him a lot while I was writing the book. 
  2. In infant school we had a trip to Worsley to do some geography and look at a canal. I was absolutely enchanted by the colour of the water which was like falling autumn leaves. This was the Bridgewater Canal – named after its owner, Francis Egerton, the third Duke of Bridgewater, who built the Canal to transport coal from his mines at Worsley to the industrial areas of Manchester, the Bridgewater Canal was the forerunner of canal networks. The kids at school called it the Orange River. The locations in Skin Deep aren’t based on this area but the canal is. 
  3. I learned to drive in one of those intensive courses where you drive every day for two to three hours. My driving instructor was a biker called Marcus and after driving for an hour, we used to end up in a place near Warrington called Lymm. The Bridgewater Canal runs through there and we’d park up for ten minutes so I could stretch my legs and he’d explain to me about the canal boats moored up there. In his previous job he’d been a canal boat fitter before he broke his arm in a bike accident and got laid off. He was probably where the idea came from to make Cole a biker. He was a fantastic driving instructor and a great character. 
  4. The Battle of the Beanfield – when I was about Jenna’s age I remember watching footage on TV of the police trying to break up a convey of several hundred travellers entering an exclusion zone around Stonehenge and several years later I saw the documentary Operation Solstice where footage never before shown backed up the original eyewitness accounts of police brutality. Karen would have been getting into the travelling lifestyle around the time of Operation Solstice and a lot of her antagonism towards the police comes from that. Not, I hasten to add, that I share her view of the police – I have friends and colleagues in the police force and one rogue operation doesn’t colour my view of the rest of them. 
  5. My best friend in school was Indian. Sometimes when we were shopping in Manchester, she’d get abusive comments shouted at her by Asian lads for being with a white girl and I’d get comments yelled at me too. That was my first, but unfortunately not last, experience of being on the receiving end of racism. Black friends often say that we don’t know what it feels like of we’ve never experienced it and I think they’re right. I drew on that when I was writing about Ryan’s experiences of traveller prejudice. 
  6. New Age was big when I was at uni. Everyone seemed to be dabbling in crystal healing. Our flats always stunk of joss sticks. I had six kinds of herbal tea in the cupboard. We even had a light bulb in the hall of one house we shared that was bright green with red swirls over it so that it lit up with the weirdest pattern. On reflection it was totally hideous and I now understand why our landlord shuddered at it whenever he came round. A lot of the little touches of Karen’s crazy New-Ageness in the book are me laughing at my nineteen year-old self. I actually did want to buy a canal boat and live on it at one point. 
  7. I had a rose bush in the garden of my first house – a beautiful little cottage in Derbyshire that I totally fell in love with and that drove all narrowboat desires right out of my head – and it used to produce the most gorgeous white roses. Occasionally it would even flower at Christmas. It was an Iceberg, and it turned out to be quite important but I won’t give more than that away – if you’ve read the book, you’ll know what I mean. 
  8. I moved to Cheshire and fell in love again – with the old twisted oaks that hang over the country lanes here. They inspired me whenever I had to write an outdoor scene in Skin Deep, especially the opening chapter. I reckon that’s my last trace of crazy New-Ageness coming out there ;-) Latent tree-hugging! 
  9. I once worked with an amazing kid with a debilitating disease that caused a lot of pain and distress. When it got too much for her to cope with, I was her ear in school to offload to. She taught me a lot about what it’s like to be a teenager and look and feel different and sometimes be excluded by your peers. Jenna is not in any way based on her but I doubt Jenna would be as authentic a character if I’d never met her. 
  10. I was talking to a writing friend one night on line and she sent me a link to Susan Boyle’s first performance on X Factor. She sent it to me with the idea that it would make me feel uplifted as it had done to her. But honestly it made me feel sick to see the audience and the judges laughing and sneering when Susan walked out onto the stage for the first time. I felt like I’d lifted a stone covering humanity and found something stinking and rotten underneath it. If she hadn’t sung with that amazing voice, would that have made it okay to jeer at her? 
Skin Deep by Laura Jarratt
Out now from Egmont UK/Electric Monkey

Ugly people don't have feelings. They're not like everyone else. They don't notice if you stare at them and turn away. And if they did notice, it wouldn't hurt them. They're not like real people. Or that's what I used to think. Before I learned...

After the car crash that leaves her best friend dead, Jenna is permanently scarred. She struggles to rebuild her life, but every stare in the street, every time she looks in the mirror, makes her want to retreat further from the world. Until she meets Ryan. Ryan's a traveller. When he and his mother moor their narrow boat on the outskirts of a village, she tells him this time it will be different. He doesn't believe her; he can't imagine why this place shouldn't be as unwelcoming as the rest. Until he meets Jenna. But as Jenna and Ryan grow closer, repercussions from the crash continue to reverberate through the community. And then a body is found...


1 comment:

  1. Great stuff - I really loved Skin Deep and it was fascinating to find out about some of the things which inspired it!