Thursday 2 February 2012

Delightful Debutantes #27: Katie Dale & Someone Else's Life.

Please give a warm welcome to my latest Delightful Debutante, Katie Dale who is here today to talk about her novel, Someone Else's Life.

Someone Else's Life is released today in the UK. Happy book birthday, Katie!

What were your inspirations and influences for writing Someone Else’s Life?

I am a huge Jodi Picoult fan – I love stories about family secrets and moral dilemmas, and knew that was the sort of story I wanted to write. Then one day an item about two babies that had been swapped at birth came up on the news and it just stuck in my head. What would you do if you found out you were swapped at birth? How would you cope with that? What would you do with the information, knowing that your whole life had been a lie…?

From that moment that was the story I just had to write.

Someone Else’s Life deals with the issue of Huntington’s disease and how it affects families. How did you research this part of the book and can you discuss the importance of highlighting such issues in YA literature?

When I started writing Someone Else’s Life I had never even heard of Huntington’s disease. I had my swapped-at-birth scenario planned out, but needed a compelling reason why Rosie would find she’d been swapped. I decided the reason could be genetic – that if Rosie’s mother had a genetic disease and Rosie took a blood test she would discover that they were not related. So I started researching genetic diseases and stumbled upon Huntington’s disease, a late-onset hereditary condition with symptoms including jerky, uncontrollable movements, mood-swings, weight loss and dementia. There’s a predictive blood test for over-eighteens, but there’s currently no cure.

This got me thinking – would Rosie take the test, knowing there’s no cure? What would I do, if I were at risk? What would you do? Knowing that you could never change the results – that there are only two possible outcomes:
                                        a-Negative – a normal, healthy life.
                                        b.Positive – a life knowing you’ll get HD, filled with tough choices:
Would you have children, knowing they’d be at risk? Would it be fair to get married, knowing your partner will probably become your full-time carer?

I read a lot about the disease, emailed people affected by HD and heard their personal stories, and met people affected by HD at meetings of the Huntington’s Disease Association, and that’s when it became more than just an illness to me. It affects every member of a family, whether they have the gene or not – and while there are around 6,000 reported cases in the UK, it’s thought that there may actually be up to twice as many cases, because people often hide their condition, are mis-diagnosed, or even decide not to be tested.

This is partly to do with a stigma that has become attached to HD (it is the only genetic illness for which insurance companies load those at risk), partly because there’s no cure, and partly because there is so little awareness and understanding of the disease.

Cath Stanley, head of care services at the HDA commented, ‘HD is always thought of as a very rare illness and there's little support for people.’

Consequently, as well as donating part of the proceeds to the Huntington’s Disease Association and the Huntington’s Disease Society of America, I hope that a Someone Else’s Life will not only be a good read, but will also help to broaden public knowledge and understanding of this too often hidden and stigmatised disease.

UK Cover
What are your top tips for aspiring authors?

READ. A lot. You can learn so much from reading good (and bad!) writing – and it’s great fun!

Write, write write! When I was doing a writing course, my teacher made us all write an observation in our notebooks every day. It could be about anything, but it was a really good habit to get into, finding new ways to describe things and express ideas.

Don’t get it right, get it written! It’s so easy to stew over how you’re writing something as you’re writing it, but just get it down first, because…

Writing is Re-writing. Nobody’s first draft makes it to print – I’m certainly glad mine didn’t!

Enter competitions! Not only is the feedback really useful for your future writing, but you never know what doors it’ll open – the Undiscovered Voices competition run by the SCBWI and Working Partners played a huge part in kick-starting my career.

What books made your favourites list in 2011 and what are you looking forward to reading most in 2012?

I loved The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, which I just read, and can’t wait to read the sequels! And Dark Parties by Sara Grant – a wonderful dystopian thriller.
I’m really looking forward to reading the just-published Fifteen Days Without A Head by Dave Cousins – it’s had rave reviews, and the amazing-sounding Angel’s Fury by Bryony Pearce, and I just can’t get enough Sarah Dessen and Jodi Picoult.

US Cover
Can you name three other books that readers of Someone Else’s Life might also enjoy?

The Pact by Jodi Picoult
Holding Me Here by Pam Conrad
The Face on The Milk Carton & Whatever Happened To Janie?  by Caroline B. Cooney

What are you working on next?

Another YA, but this time it’s more of a thriller – here’s the blurb:

Tall, dark, and handsome, the first time Sasha meets mysterious Christian she knows he is The One. But Christian is hiding a terrible secret. Why does he clam up every time Sasha asks about his past? Why does he have the initials L.N. engraved on his watch? Why doesn’t he have any family – and why does he dye his blond hair black?

Then one day Christian’s house goes up in flames, his tyres are slashed, he flees for his life, and Sasha insists on going with him.

But as Christian’s secret is unveiled in front of the whole world, it seems everything he’s ever told Sasha is a lie. Even his name. Her loyalties torn, her emotions in tatters, Sasha must decide whether to stand by the man she loves, or turn him over to his pursuers. Can what they’re saying about him really be true? Should she trust him? Or is she in terrible danger…?

But Christian isn’t the only one keeping secrets.
For what if their accidental meeting was no accident at all…

I love the sound of this YA Thriller. Can't wait to read it! Thanks to Katie for the great interview!


  1. Ah, I'm even more interested in this book now! Great guest post. :)

  2. Lovely interview. Good luck to Katie and the book.

  3. Great interview. Just finished Someone Else's Life and really enjoyed it. Her new thriller sounds fantastic as well.

    The Cait Files

  4. I can't wait to read Someone Else's Life, especially now knowing what inspired it and the research that went into it. The YA thriller sounds amazing too, looking forward to that as well! Great post, thank you :).

  5. This is up next for me. Even more excited about it now! Will eagerly await the Thriller too.

  6. I have to read Jodi Picoult. Someone Else's Life sounds really good. I like the US cover. Nice interview!

  7. Thanks for the lovely interview, Katie and Leanna! I have this on my TBR pile to read soon, and I'm really looking forward to it. I love Jodi Picoult, so I'm pretty sure I'll love Somebody Else's Life :)

  8. I haven't read any Jodi Picoult...

    YAY for THG! :)

    Love the blurb for her new book!


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