What's your real name?
It's Bridget. Bridget Collins. But I'm not going to tell you what the "R" stands for. (It's funny how everyone thinks their middle name is particularly embarrassing, isn't it? Don't know why, but it seems to be universal.)
Why did you choose to use your initials and not call yourself Bridget Collins? Is it to pretend you're a man?
It wasn't my idea, actually - my American publishers asked me if I'd mind using my initials rather than my full name. And yes, there was an element, not of pretending to be a man, but of not obviously being female, if you see what I mean. There's a theory that boys are less attracted to books by women, and that girls don't mind what sex the author is - so in that sense it's better to be androgynous on the cover of the book, especially if the book is mostly about boys, as The Traitor Game, my first book, is. When my publishers suggested it, I had a moment when my feminist hackles rose a little bit - but I'm not actually pretending to be male, I'm just not giving away information about my sex... And authors will do anything to increase their sales.
And then I remembered that the first love letter I ever wrote (I was nine) was signed, "Sincerely, B. R. Collins". And I thought that was a good sign.
How long have you been writing?
About six or seven years now, I think. I started just after I left drama school, when I was about twenty-three or four. But it takes a long time to write a novel, and then even more time for it to get published! So I've only been published since 2008.
Why do you write for teenagers? Do you write for adults as well?
I never exactly planned to write for teenagers - it just happened! I started writing because I'd left drama school and I was unemployed (or, worse, doing mindless jobs to pay the rent) and I was sinking in a sort of marsh of culture shock because I'd been in full-time education for twenty years and suddenly no one was telling me what to do with my day. I felt like I wasn't going anywhere, that I didn't know who I was or what to do with myself... and so when I started to write, I was writing about classically adolescent problems, all those big questions about life and the world, even though I was twenty-something! So that first book, which hasn't been published, turned out to be a coming-of-age novel for young adults. I used that book to find an agent, and so it made sense to carry on writing for the same age-group.
But although it wasn't a decision I made consciously, I love writing for young adults, and that's probably why I'm still doing it! I think when you're experiencing things for the first time they have a peculiar intensity - everything is more exciting, more overwhelming, more heart-breaking or more wonderful - and that's something that I love trying to explore in my books. Young adult books can be just as complex and thoughtful as adult books, and yet at the same time there's a great freedom - you can mix genres, really rank up the narrative tension... it's great! The only thing that annoys me is not being able to swear.
That said, I'm just starting to write for adults too! So far I'm not at the stage where there's much to say, though - watch this space...
Where do your ideas come from?
Who was it who said, "If I knew where my ideas came from, I'd go there"?
It's hard to say how - or even when! - my ideas arrive. Sometimes they come with a specific image - the idea for A Trick of the Dark came when I saw the black figures next to the motorway in France that are put there to mark an accident - or sometimes with a character or narrative that grows and grows until finally I'm conscious that I want to write it down. Often I give my characters something I want (like Tyme's End) and then take it away again...
What's your favourite book?
Ooh, that's a hard one! Out of my own books, it's always the one that hasn't come out yet. I'm really pleased with The Broken Road, so for the moment I suppose it's my favourite. Although it feels a bit strange to say that, like having to pick a favourite child...
Out of other people's books - that's even harder! The more I read, the more difficult it is to pick one favourite book. There are lots that I come back to again and again, and it depends on my mood... For a few that I love, you can have a look at the recommendations I've put on the pages about my books.
Do you know J. K. Rowling?
No. I do have the same publisher, though.
Do you do school visits?
Yes, I do. I do talks, workshops and Q&A sessions for all ages from 11/12 upwards (including adults). If you're interested, or you'd like me to come and talk to your school or book group, have a look at my page on www.contactanuthor.co.uk.
Why is this blog called "jugjugjug"?
Ah, well. As you can imagine, "brcollins" was taken, as was "brcollinswriter", I think, and pretty much all the other variations I could come up with. So I racked my brains...
I can't remember the exact thought process - it was probably born out of desperation - but anyway... "Jug jug jug" is supposed to be the noise the nightingale makes (the way "tu-whit-tu-whoo" is an owl). I like that.
And it's fairly easy to remember. I hope.