Those of you who read my blog, or stumble upon it from time to time, might have noticed a lot of book reviews of the works by a young author named A. J. Raven. It’s no surprise that I really enjoy the Young Adult, Mystery and Paranormal “Colville” series as well as the Mystery and YA “Missing in Somerville” series. So, it was about time that I got hold of the author and talked to him about his writing, inspiration and his future plans for the series.
Me: I know that you are currently 22 years old and have four published novels under your belt. Quite an achievement. How old were you when you started writing and when did you write your first book?
A.J: Thanks for the praise. I think I started writing when I was about 11 or 12 years old. It had to do something with me sharing the adventures that Harry Potter had in the first year. It was six or seven pages long. Then I shifted to another story and I kept working on it for a few years when finally it took shape into the very first book in the Colville series, when i was 14 years old.
Me: Who doesn’t want to have adventures that Harry Potter has (laughs). So, you wrote ‘Colville – The Secret’ when you were 14 years old. What about the rest of the books?
A.J: It was titled “Colville: The Beginning” when I first wrote it. But then I worked on it for a few more months and then moved on to the second book “Colville – The Swamp”. I created an outline for the rest of the stories in the series but I didn’t return to writing it for a very long time.
Me: Because you are a student and still are?
A.J: Yes, being a student does take away a lot of time from writing and I still am a student, doing my M.Phil in Bio-technology. So, I try and write whenever I get the time.
Me: When did “Missing in Somerville” happen? It’s different from your previous series. It’s still a mystery and YA but doesn’t have the paranormal genera in it.
A.J: I don’t know when “Missing in Somerville” came into my mind. I guess I wanted to write something different. Still in the Mystery and YA world but with new characters and without the supernatural stuff. I think I was seventeen years old when I started writing it. It too had to go through a lot of re-writes, deletion and addition of entire chapters, to become what it is today. I also have an out-line for the rest of the books in the series and where I want the characters to go. It’s kind of connected to the “Colville” world but it’s different in it’s own way.
Me: The characters are very different in both the series. Even the protagonists and the antagonists. How do you tackle handling all these characters. Do you try and make them different?
A.J: I don’t try and make the characters different. Who knows, some of them might begin to look similar as the series continues. However, I write the characters as I want to write them and how they add to the whole story. I like to write about the dynamics that the characters have with each other and having more of them allows me to explore different kinds of interactions.
Me: As “Colville” and “Somerville” are part of the same world. Will we get to see a cross-over at some point in time?
F: Maybe (laughs). I don’t want to give much away, but yes, a cross-over can definitely happen and it would be interesting to see how all the characters interact with each other.
Me: What made you decide that Anya should be the protagonist for the “Colville” series and Jerry for the other one?
A.J: I’m not sure. I guess I’ve always been attracted to strong female characters. I always knew that Anya would be the one for the “Colville” series along with her friends who are main characters in their own right. As for Jerry, I wanted to go for a more personal narrative for the other series, seeing things from his POV. I wanted to give readers a teenager who’s curious, wants to do the right thing but who can be selfish and jealous at the same time. Because let’s face it, no one is perfect, especially when they are a teenager.
Me: You have also picked on the subject of sexuality when it comes to Jerry. Why?
A.J: I wanted to give people a character who’s sexuality was just a part of him. Whether or not Jerry is bisexual or gay should be secondary to who he is as a person. People are far more than just their sexual orientation.
Me: What are you writing currently? Will we be getting a new book in the “Colville” series or “SM”?
A.J: I’m currently writing the fourth book in the “Colville” series and I think it will be called “The Moon”. After that I will probably give the teenagers a break and move on to the other series and see where it takes Jerry and his friends.
Me: Yes, those teenagers do need a break! “Colville: The Moon”. Can you tell us more about it?
A.J: The story picks up about a week or two after the incidents of “Colville – The Cold”. The teenagers are planning a Halloween party at school but as always, things don’t go according to plan. I don’t want to give much away but it will focus more on Carl and Eric. Don’t know when I will finish writing it, yet.
Me: Well, I’m looking forward to it! Thank you for your time and I might get back to you with more questions if I have them.
A.J: No, thank you for the opportunity.
If you are interested in reading the series written by Farid-ul-Haq, then you can check out the links below as well as the book reviews I’ve done. You can also find him on Goodreads. You can find all the books on various eBook websites such as Amazon (Paperback and Kindle), Barnes and Noble (Nook), iTunes, etc.
A.J. Raven Twitter handle: tempest071990
Colville Series Book Review
Somerville Mysteries Book Review
Feel free to leave your comments and let me know if you have read any of the books and we’ll talk about it!