Can you tell our readers a little about yourself?
Hello! My name is C.G. Drews and I’m the author of A Thousand Perfect Notes and The Boy Who Steals Houses. I live in Australia (and yes! I do have kangaroos in my backyard) and I love to write surrounded by my rainbow bookshelves with a hot chocolate nearby.
You have been blogging about books since you were a teenager. Did you always want to be a writer or was this a natural development from your prolific reading/blogging as Paper Fury?
Being a writer actually came first! I started writing seriously at fifteen and, because I was such a voracious reader, book blogging naturally filled in the gaps. Blogging was a way to build my platform as an author…and to find a really thoughtful and amazing community to befriend! I found a literary agent at nineteen, and then my book deal happened when I was twenty-one.
Staying with your blog, you are reading on average over 200 books a year, how on earth do you manage to read so much as well as write books?
Look, maaaaybe a little dark magic is involved? Just a smidge. (Although truly, I am lucky to be a fast reader, but I’m also just hungry to devour as many stories as I can. I’ve been busy this year though, so I expect I won’t reach 200, though it is a fun goal to aim for!)
There was a recent thread on Twitter when someone suggested that all aspiring writers should try and read at least one recently published book. She was totally trolled by people who disagreed with her a successful writer how important is it to you to read new books and why?
I saw that and I was pretty shocked that it was a controversial take. We wouldn’t front up to a bakery and be comfortable eating there only to find the baker never never ate anything they cooked. (Suspicious!) If you’re a writer, I wholly believe you should be a reader. Not everyone can read 200 books a year, but you should still be reading something. It’s vital to read because: (a) you want to know what’s selling so you don’t end up working in a trend that’s dead, (b) you want to know what’s resonating with readers currently, (c) you need to keep your own creative well full! It’s hard to output creativity if you don’t take it in, and lastly (d) it’s important to learn from other authors. The best way to learn to write is to read.
Many of our readers were introduced to your writing when ‘The boy who steals houses’ was shortlisted for the BBA. The book was also nominated for the Carnegie Medal. How does it feel to have international success so early on in your career?
It’s definitely an honour and I feel humbled, quite honestly! Getting published wasn’t easy, so I still pinch myself that my books are even out there, on shelves and in libraries and tucked into readers’ lives. Knowing my books have been loved enough to be nominated for awards is mind blowing.
Your writing deals with some quite heavy subject matter, ‘A thousand perfect notes’ had some scenes which were quite difficult to read and ‘The boy who steals houses’ just had me in tears. What did you find was the hardest scene to write?
One thing that was really important to me when writing the darker scenes in both my books was: being as real and raw and vulnerable as possible. Capturing emotion in writing is hard! I wanted my readers to feel what the characters did, to care about them, and to be right there with them as they got off the ground and kept going.
The boy who steals houses is one of my top reads from last year. I found the whole concept both original and emotional. How did you develop the whole idea of ‘stealing’ houses?
That is such an incredible compliment, and my heart is so full to know that! I spun the story from a variety of inspirations, but the top two were: (1) it’s a loose Goldilocks retelling, since Goldilocks also sneaked into houses to eat porridge and nap (I mean, priorities). Also (2) I love to go for long walks and I always passed lots of empty houses. It sparked this idea of a homeless teen who wanted to steal a safe place, and could they do it without ever getting caught?
The characters in both of your books are so believable and I completely fell in love with their vulnerability and strength. Like many other readers I have been through the ‘I wonder what happens next’ phase. Are your books going to remain standalone, or do you think you will revisit the characters at some point?
I would love the chance to revisit The Boy Who Steals Houses and write a sequel! I’m not sure it’ll be able to happen, but we can dream?!
Can you share what you are currently working on?
While I don’t have another book coming out yet, I am working on a draft about a boy who sees monsters!
The following questions are just a fun way to get to know some random facts about the author. I will be asking same questions to all the authors I interview!
What’s your favourite novel that you feel is under-appreciated?
I completely adore Sick Kids In Love by Hannah Moskowitz!
Who would be in your dream reading group (dead or alive!) and what book would you choose to read?
I’m really in decisive so I’d make someone else pick the book haha! But it would be amazing to discuss books with some of my favourite authors, like Maggie Stiefvater or Alice Oseman or Holly Black!
Describe who/what you would be if you were a:
Book character: I think I’d make a great Hobbit to be honest. (Likes comfy homes and cheese and being barefoot. Sounds PERFECT.)
Song: I admit a deep love for all of Beethoven’s music!
Chocolate: Ooh salted caramel. I can definitely be both sweet and a bit salty.
Would you rather have written your favourite book or be your favourite book character?
Writing my favourite book! Usually my favourite characters are off doing something grand and epic, never resting while they get things done…while I prefer to lie around daydreaming. (“C.G. come save the world!” Me: I literally just sat down.) Whereas I’d love to be the author of an incredible world-changing novel, so that would be a pretty neat thing.
This interview first appeared in Bookcast, issues March and September 2020