Title: Water Born.
Author: Rachel Ward.
Series: The Drowning, #2.
Genres: Thriller, Ghosts, Young Adult.
Publication Date: August 7th, 2014.
Publisher: Chicken House.
Format: Paperback, 275 pages.
Nic’s always loved the water, so being chosen for the swimming team means everything.When she begins to hear a disembodied voice in the pool, she turns to her dad for answers from a past he might not want to remember.
And when girls her age begin mysteriously drowning, Nic may be the only one who can uncover the murky truth...
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I'm a fortysomething author of books for young adults. I live in Bath, England, with my husband, two teenagers, dog, cat and chickens. I've had 'sensible' jobs for 25 years, and now I'm a writer too. I've been writing for about 10 years, and have published the Numbers trilogy. The first book came out in the UK in 2009 and the USA in 2010.
My Numbers books explore the gift of being able to see death dates. If you looked in somebody's eyes and saw the date of their death, would it change the way you felt about people? Would it change the way you lived your life?
Writing As A Boy by Rachel Ward
The Drowning was recently shortlisted for the Sussex Coast Schools Amazing Book Award. Sadly, circumstances conspired against me and I wasn’t able to go to the presentation evening, which was, by all accounts a great ‘do’. However, I was sent a question and I emailed my answer which was read out on my behalf. The question was, ‘What made you decide to narrate The Drowning from a boy’s point of view?’ It’s a good question, particularly as I’ve written five books in the first person (usually first person, present tense).
My answer was: 'I'm not sure I actually decided this! When I knew what the story was, it was clear to me that Carl was right at the centre of it, and when I started writing an exploratory chapter, he was the one telling the story. I wanted to show his journey from amnesia to understanding, and really that could only be told from his point of view. I liked having him as an 'unreliable' narrator – so that the reader isn't quite sure whether Rob is really haunting Carl, or whether he is a product of Carl's guilty and tortured mind...’
Carl is a boy with amnesia, a boy who has to put the pieces of the past back together and doesn’t necessarily like what he discovers. In the sequel to The Drowning, Water Born, my narrator is Nic, a talented swimmer. She finds out that her parents aren’t who they say they are and has to unpick the web of secrets and lies that her life is built on. Again, I don’t think I chose Nic as my narrator. It was very clear to me that Water Born is her story and I wanted the reader to see it through her eyes (although if you’ve already read The Drowning, you know a great deal more about her parents’ history than she does).
I think it’s almost true to say that I’m equally comfortable writing from a male or female viewpoint. In two books (The Chaos and Infinity), I have alternated chapters, male and female. Maybe it is marginally easier for me to write as a female. I remember struggling when I was trying to write The Chaos as I couldn’t seem to find an authentic voice for Adam. I wondered then whether Jem in Numbers had actually been me, or at least an expression of part of my character. Now I’m not sure.
If you write in the first person, you are in effect writing a sort of monologue and in that respect writing is a lot like acting. You need to understand your character, inhabit their skin, learn to think and react like they would. You don’t need to be (like) the person you are writing about, you just need to use your imagination, fed by all the observations you’ve made over the years of other people and the way they speak and act.
Starting to write a book is quite daunting, and so at the beginning of a book, I usually do a bit of ‘exploratory writing’. I tell myself that I’m writing something, anything just to test the water, get a feel for the book. Quite often this turns out to be the first chapter, but if I sat down at a blank screen and wrote ‘Chapter 1’ at the top of the page, I think my mind and body would be frozen until someone came to tuck a blanket over my knees and turn out the lights at the end of the day. Usually the voice I use, and the character I inhabit, for that first bit of writing sets the tone for the rest of the book.
For my next book, I’m experimenting with writing in the third person. Again, this decision sort of chose itself, but it took a bit of getting used to. I kept getting in a muddle and automatically switching to ‘I’ even though I didn’t want to. However, now I’m finding that there’s something liberating about taking a step back as a narrator and being able to see the bigger picture, which you can’t do if you are writing in the first person. I’m enjoying it, which is a good sign. I wonder if readers will even notice, and if they do, if they’ll like it. Anyway, that’s a question for some time in the future. For the moment, I’m wondering whether readers will enjoy getting to know Nic, in Water Born, and whether they will share her confusion and alarm when she starts to hear a voice in the water...