Welcome to an interview with the lovely Emily Gale, author of I Am Out With Lanterns!
Can you tell us a little of what I Am Out With Lanterns is about?
It’s about several Year Ten students whose lives collide in a ‘Love Actually’ kind of way – an ensemble piece in which I draw comparisons between the notion of artists and their muses, and the way we use Instagram. The main themes are perception, family, and first love.
What was the inspiration behind splitting the POVs in I Am Out With Lanterns, was this to broaden the scope and make your book inclusive and nuanced?
It happened in an organic way. Wren and Milo were characters I’d already created – they appear as secondary characters in The Other Side of Summer, though I Am Out With Lanterns works as a standalone. Wren and Milo are both artists in The Other Side of Summer, which is how that theme developed. Once I’d added a third character (Juliet came next), I started to realise that I was actually writing about perception. It became tempting to experiment with more first-person narrative, to see how I could explore that theme to its fullest. Could I write from the bully’s point-of-view? Could I let this character have a voice later in the narrative, to show the way people gain sudden importance in our lives having lurked on the sidelines before? And so on… Of course, the more point-of-views I added, the more complex the story became and that was a major challenge to get right – but it was also a completely invigorating way to write. I was never bored, put it that way. It became like a puzzle I had to solve.
You have many a novel under your belt, after your successes do you feel you’ve grown as a writer? And what changes do you see within your own writing?
After four novels I sense a combination of getting harder on myself and becoming more ambitious. I was in a hurry to get published a few years ago – I had a hunger that in hindsight seems detached from the work. Now it’s all about the work, because that’s where the real joy lies.
Who are some authors that have inspired you, both as an author and a reader?
The multiple point-of-view structure in I Am Out With Lanterns was certainly influenced by my favourite Australian YA novels, such as Wildlife by Fiona Wood, Finding Cassie Crazy by Jaclyn Moriarty, The Guy The Girl The Artist and His Ex by Gabrielle Williams, Everything Is Changed by Nova Weetman, Cooper Bartholemew Is Dead by Rebecca James. I also took a much-needed dose of strength from reading This Must Be The Place by Maggie O’Farrell, an extraordinary contemporary writer. As a reader, I’ll pretty much go anywhere in the bookshop. I’m still completely in awe of books I remember from childhood, like the Frog and Toad stories by Arnold Lobel, and I could easily read picture books all day. I’m stunned by other writers all the time – lately I fell in love with Kindred by Octavia E. Butler (if you’re a timeslip fan, please read this amazing book!) and All That I Am by Anna Funder.
If you could offer your teen self once piece of advice, what would it be?
Take your driving test again.
Thank you Emily for the wonderful answers!
You can purchase I Am Out With Lanterns here!
Thank you Penguin Random House & Emily for this lovely interview!