I’ve written (and thought and chattered) a lot about the music and films that inspired Gemini Rising. Talking about the books seems a bit scarier, somehow – in a way it seems much more direct, but then at the same time it’s more subtle (like, every book I’ve ever read and/or loved has probably been an influence in some way). Also, inviting comparisons seems a bit dangerous – to pull two random examples from the air, I adore both Lauren Oliver and Esther Freud, but their writing makes me want to kneel down and weep with inadequacy, so it seems a bit presumptuous to say they’ve ‘influenced’ me.
Anyway, as usual, this probably makes no sense – so here are the books that I’ve loved that maybe have had the biggest influence. I’m bound to have forgotten some and will kick myself later.
When I started writing YA, it was with the idea of writing something that was spooky and exciting, but NOT actually supernatural. I wanted it to be very much rooted in reality, but telling the story of girls who had grown up with all those supernatural influences. Kind of giving a nod and a wink to the epic, supernatural stuff that has been around so much, but with that same everyday, suburban tone that so many of the books I loved as a young teen had: Paula Danziger, Judy Blume, et al.
I also wanted it to be contemporary and full of pop culture, with a smart voice –like my favourite books by writers like Emma Forrest and Blake Nelson.
With the themes of female friendship and a very insular school, I adore books that really get across that feeling of claustrophobia and a hint of menace, which I definitely tried to recreate – chiefly, My Summer of Love by Helen Cross. Plus, I should probably also state that my favourite girls’ school book was (is) Heidi Grows Up.
Another big deal in Gemini Rising is the books that Sorana herself reads, which becomes kind of a running theme. I used this basically just as a fun way to talk about some of the books I loved at that age; but also, they are a little window into Sorana’s moods and, most of all, how she is trying to define herself – through Sylvia Plath, Bret Easton Ellis, the Beat poets, Douglas Coupland – all my favourites then and now.