Author Q&A: Claire Zorn

Author pic best Claire Zorn 2017Transporting readers to sunny Australia, Claire Zorn’s award-winning YA novel One Would Think The Deep tackles important contemporary issues such as loss, relationships and mental health. With just over a month until publication date, we decided to delve deeper into Claire’s inspiration for this novel with an exclusive Q&A.

What inspired you to write One Would Think The Deep? Was there one eureka moment or was it more of a developing idea?

All my stories are inspired by music. There is a song by The National with the beautiful line ‘I had a hole in the middle where the lightening went through, I told my friends not to worry’. That line made me imagine a teenage boy dealing with grief and pain and struggling to reconcile those emotions with the tough guy expectations society and boys/men put on them. I wanted to put a very sensitive guy in a macho environment, like the surf scene – particularly in the 90’s when there were far fewer females on the scene.

I also read a news story a couple of years ago about two brothers who got into a fight with each other at a pub; one had punched the other and put him in a coma. When interviewed, their parents emphasised how close the brothers were and spoke about both the victim and the perpetrator with unwavering love and affection. I was struck by the complexity of the situation as well as the support the parents showed for both their sons. So often in fiction we read about characters, particularly male characters, whoa re either good or bad. I wanted to flesh out and explore the grey area in between, especially in relation to violence.

We know Sam develops a passion for surfing in this novel, is that a hobby of yours as well?

No, I love being in the ocean, but I’m not a surfer. I do have this weird fixation with things like surfing and snowboarding. I think they are beautiful and elegant – things we do not often associate with extreme sports.

How about Jeff Buckley? Why was he the artist you chose for Sam’s musical obsession?

One thing I really wanted to express was the intimate relationship teenagers often have with music (I relied heavily on music to get me through my teens). I wanted to explore the affect a musician’s death can have on a teenager. I still remember the vigils held for Kurt Cobain when he died but he was too obvious a choice. I chose Jeff Buckley because of the way his music can be both delicately beautiful and brutal.

What is your favourite thing about Sam? Is there one moment in his story that you think readers will connect to?

I love his sensitivity. I think readers, particularly male readers, will identify with the moments when he doesn’t speak up and challenge the behaviour of his peers because he fears rejection and just wants to fit in.

Other than Sam, who was your favourite character to write?

It’s a toss up between Minty and Ruby. I love Ruby’s quick wit and fearlessness. Her dialogue was fun to write because she says a lot of things I would never say. Minty is a real charmer and embodies that lovely larrikin thing that is so typically Australian.

Sam is 17 in One Would Think The Deep and this could be a complicated age where we are discovering who we are. Is there any advice you’d give to your 17-year-old self?

Don’t try and change. You are fine just the way you are and the things you don’t like about yourself will turn out to be your greatest assets.

The setting of One Would Think The Deep is very different from rainy England! What is the best thing about living in Australia?

The ocean. Swimming in the ocean is just the best. I’m lucky enough to live on the coast, so it’s something I can do quite often. The conditions have to be just right, though, I get scared so easily!

What is your favourite Aussie slang word?

Goon bag. It’s a cask wine, a wonderful Australian invention.

One Would Think The Deep is your third novel, what sets it apart from the other two?

It’s more complex and the characters are more nuanced. It’s also for a slightly older audience.

Finally, if you weren’t a writer, what do you think you would be doing instead? Is there another talent you have or wish you had?

I can draw and paint. I’m actually working on a picture book at the moment, something very different to novel writing.

Look out for One Would Think The Deep, coming in August! Explore the blog for more information on the book itself, and for a review.


Review: One Would Think The Deep

In case you’re not aware by now (and if you’re not, where have you been?!), we are publishing the fantastic One Would Think The Deep by Australian bestseller Claire Zorn. We think it’s the best thing since sliced bread, but we don’t want you to just take our word for it!

As well as the numerous four- and five-star reviews of One Would Think The Deep on Goodreads, read an exclusive review below to find out why teen reader Charlotte also loves this book!

Sidenote: if you or someone you know owns a book blog and would like to bag a free copy of One Would Think The Deep, email us here for more details. We’d love to hear from you!

Here’s what Charlotte thought:

One  Would Think The Deep’ is a contemporary novel that expertly captures all your typical Australian vibes of living life by the coast and spending your days surfing in the sea. This warm setting immediately sets the tone for the book and leads into a compelling introduction to the characters.

The story follows a young boy called Sam whose life is turned upside down when he has no choice but to move from Sydney to the coast to live with his whacky Aunt and estranged family to avoid being put into childcare after the sudden death of his mother. Sam rediscovers comfort in his childhood friend and cousin, Minty. The two were close when spending summers with their grandmother when they were younger, but had since drifted apart into different worlds. Minty’s life seems wonderful on the surface, and Sam cannot wait to become a part of it. But he struggles to adapt to this new life in a family bursting with disturbing pasts, dark secrets and resentments, and at the same time control his own inner demons. His only way out is to spend long days in the ocean, learning to ride the waves and keep himself from sinking.

There is something truly heart wrenching about this story, and it’s a definite emotional rollercoaster as the characters gradually develop further in their journeys throughout the novel. Zorn explores a complex range of ideas throughout, and uses vivid imagery to paint a thought-provoking image of familial complexities, a sense of belonging and identity, whilst dipping into intense themes such as domestic abuse, sexism, mental illnesses and the consequences of our actions.

Zorn ensures through her writing that a reflective approach will be taken by the reader. She makes you consider how the events of you past, however much you wish to forget them, can in fact shape your future, and how discovering who you are, and developing your own self identity, is crucial in choosing the paths you will venture down in your life.

For readers who enjoy thought-provoking novels and aren’t afraid of exploring tougher concepts, this is a must-read. It is a powerful and compelling book filled with ideas, and comes with a vulnerability that is utterly heart-wrenching.

Sam’s character is very down to earth and has been written in a way that is refreshing, flawed but completely human and relatable and therefore is compelling for the reader. Tackling his past whilst fight a mental battle with himself leads to the development of Sam’s character and inevitably he becomes a decent person with a promising future. Despite the odds being consistently stacked against him, Sam ultimately reaches his goal of becoming someone who his mother would be proud of. Zorn’s characters can, at times, realistically portray the darker side of humanity, and her ability to redeem these characters through her writing and make them likeable holds a certain quality.

Zorn is an author who understands people, and because of this she is able to create characters that are complex and layered, both with a great deal of grace and of sensitivity, evoking a deep sympathy in the mind of the reader for the struggles each person is facing.

The tone and atmosphere of this novel are also perfectly crafted. They are engaging and intense, and Zorn isn’t afraid to tackle a range of difficult emotional issues. There are times within the story that are almost hard to read, dealing with the emotions of youths and the intensity of trying to work out who you are meant to be. There is a harrowing honesty in Sam’s descent into violence and depression, which ultimately results an uplifting quality as he pieces himself back together with the help of his far-from-perfect family. The writing is descriptive, layered and thoughtful. Zorn uses emotion and imagery to tell her story, keeping the language almost basic so as not to detract from these elements. The use of surfing and the ocean as a metaphor within this story is also used to powerful effect of this beautiful Australian novel.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would happily recommend it to anyone as it appeals to a wide audience even beyond the intended teen audience. I can’t wait for the next Claire Zorn novel!

Charlotte, 16


Surf’s Up! Raven Hits the Waves With Award-Winning Australian Novel

We are so excited to announce the latest addition to Raven Books, heading to us all the way from sunny Australia! An absolute must-read this summer, Claire Zorns One Would Think The Deep reaches our shores in August.

It’s 1997 and Sam’s already-complicated life is turned on its head following the sudden death of his mum. Under the care of his estranged aunt, Sam rekindles friendship with his cousin Minty who teaches him to surf. Using the adrenaline rush as an escape, he takes to the sea when family wounds start to reopen and ghosts of the past refuse to stay hidden. But the ocean can only clear his head for so long and the time comes for Sam and his family to face their demons…

This compelling novel is so authentically Australian and poignantly-written, it transports you fully into the moment with Sam. Get a taste for Zorn’s exquisite writing with this extract from the blurb:

‘Sam stared at the picture of the boy about to be tipped off the edge of the world: the crushing weight of water about to pummel him. He knew that moment exactly, the disbelief that what was about to happen could even be possible. The intake of breath before the flood.’

One Would Think The Deep is Claire Zorn’s third YA novel, and has already won a number of awards in her native Australia, including the CBCA Book of the Yearand was short-listed for the prestigious Prime Minister’s Literary Award. Her two previous novels have also been Australian award-winning titles, and all three boast unique insights into complex contemporary issues, an impressive and rare achievement from an undeniably diverse author.

Watch this space for an exclusive review from a teen reader, but until then, take a look here at what others have to say about Zorn and her novels.

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#ThrowbackThursday: Happy Anniversary Lethal Outbreak!

Not only is it #ThrowbackThursday, but this week we’re celebrating the upcoming anniversary of one of our favourite YA titles: Malcolm Rose’s Lethal Outbreak.

Part of the Outer Reaches series, Rose’s Sci-Fi novel takes place in a world where there’s not just one species of human, but two. Ripe with exciting and gory crimes, the series follows a mystery-solving pair of teenagers: detective Troy Goodhart and forensic specialist Lexi Iona Four. In Lethal Outbreak, three scientists are discovered dead in a high-security laboratory, during their study of an unknown substance from Mars. Was the substance the cause of their deaths? How would it have got through their airtight protective suits? Was this an accident, or do Troy and Lexi suspect foul play?

These books are perfect for teens who loves mystery and suspense. Here’s what some of our readers have to say about Lethal Outbreak:

‘A very well-written and interesting book. It captures the attention of the Sci-Fi/mystery lovers and will keep you captivated from the beginning to the end of the book. It gives he reader a feeling of mystery and suspense.’

Andi Christie, Drummon Community High

‘Lethal Outbreak was a very intelligent and all-round good book. It was very fun to read and had a lot of cliff hangers. It always left me on the edge of my seat. To sum it up in one word, it would be fantastic!’

James Davies, Portobello High

For more information about Lethal Outbreak and the other books in Malcolm Rose’s Outer Reaches series, click here.


Short but Sweet: An Introduction into Editorial Life

As someone who has never worked in an environment quite like that of a Publishing House, Ransom has given me a tremendous insight into the business in the space of just three days. Short but sweet – and very enlightening.

Since my personal interest lies with the editorial side of publishing, I was offered the opportunity to assist with the tasks that revolved around commissioning and proof-reading. These are things that have intrigued me for some time now: the whole process of how books are chosen to be published, and then the scrutiny of editing and proof-reading undertaken before the distribution of the text/novel. To an outsider, the final product might appear to be just another book, but I can assure you that piece of work has been put through the ringer before being allowed on the shelves.

The commissioning I was involved in was particularly in relation to Ransom’s imprint – Raven – hoping to bring something fresh and exciting to the genre of Young Adult fiction. The process of commissioning often starts with the publisher having manuscript after manuscript flooding in. Although this is great, it does come down to a couple of people reading through and choosing what is suitable to fit the target audience. But you never know, you might find the next Worst Witch or Lemony Snicket – which always promises a good read. The alternative method of commissioning means hunting authors down, instead of waiting for them to find you – more efficient maybe, but sometimes the best ideas can be worth the wait!

In my limited experience of this process it does involve a lot of time, even when just skimming the submissions to get a feel for their suitability. But what I enjoyed was being able to read something light-hearted and fun (in comparison to the books I read at University). I was able to read through several manuscripts that had been sent in as hopeful and potential titles for the new year.  It was endearing to see the effort and dedication offered by these budding authors.

After this crucial stage is complete and you have picked your texts, next comes the proof-reading. A lot more difficult and not for the faint-hearted. Be prepared to spend a lot of time reading and re-reading and picking out mistakes. But it’s all character building. Personally, I think this is one of the things that I enjoyed the most. Being an English and History student, I live to meticulously read texts. Although I enjoyed this stage, that doesn’t mean I didn’t find it challenging. Trying to find mistakes can sometimes feel like more of a challenge when that is the only purpose of reading. And since it is a critical stage of the whole publishing process, I did feel anxious about missing things out.

I would not expect to know everything about the business after three days, or even be able to perfect any methods I have learnt. But my time at Ransom has felt rewarding, and has affirmed that a career in publishing and editing is the career for me.

Megan Dale
English and History Student, Leicester University