Malorie Blackman answers our questions about the fifth novel in her Noughts and Crosses series, Crossfire (Penguin), which has been shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2020.
1. Can you sum up your book in one sentence?
Crossfire is a story of ambition, an exploration of the dark, lonely places overarching ambition can take you.
2. What inspired Crossfire?
Those who blatantly lie and cheat – and get away with it – to gain positions of power. Crossfire was inspired by the current political climate and a desire to revisit the world of Noughts and Crosses. Plus I also wanted to round off the story with a third and final generation of characters.
3. Which character in the book is your favourite?
All four of my major characters are my favourites – Troy, Libby, Tobey and Callie. Tobey and Callie also featured in my book Double Cross so I must like them a lot to write about them again. Troy is a people person who sometimes cares too much about others and their opinions. Even Libby, with all her faults and flaws, is dear to my heart.
4. What does being on this year’s YA Book Prize shortlist mean to you?
Every year the shortlist for the YA Book Prize is so strong, with something to suit every taste. It’s an honour to be shortlisted this year alongside so many other fantastic authors and their amazing books. I couldn’t be more thrilled.
5. What's the best thing about writing for young adults?
Their open minds and their honest reactions. Young adults welcome being challenged by what they read so are more readily open to new ideas. A number of the best discussions I’ve had about my books have been with YA audiences.
6. What was your favourite book as a teenager?
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, closely followed by Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie.
7. What is your top writing tip?
Write from the heart as well as the head and don’t give up.
8. What song(s) would be on a playlist for Crossfire?
I do a playlist for most of my books. My ‘Tobey Durbridge’ playlist contains, among others:
Maybe Tomorrow – Stereophonics
Long Train Runnin’ – Doobie Brothers
I Am An Illusion – Rob Thomas
Would I Lie To You – Eurythmics
Viva La Vida – Coldplay
Time Is Running Out – Muse
9. Who would you cast in a film version of your book?
I don’t mind who gets cast as long as they are good actors who fit the part!
10. Which book, film or TV show would you recommend to someone who enjoyed Crossfire?
Rani and Sukh by Bali Rai. I loved that story. So moving.
Find out more about Crossfire by Malorie Blackman and read the first chapter of the book on the YA Book Prize website.