Becky Fleetwood won a writing competition when she was only eight years old, and years later, when she wrote the last line of her book, Chroma: Imogen's Secret she fulfilled her lifelong dream to become an author. As our author of the day, Fleetwood talks about the inspiration behind her Chroma series and reveals why she used Monty Python references in the book.
Please give us a short introduction to what Chroma: Imogen's Secret is about
Imogen Reiner, nearly seventeen, can see the emotions of everyone around her. She can read ‘Chroma’: the invisible coloured spectrum of auras we all emit. Forced to conceal this and her other extraordinary abilities, Imogen is desperate to learn why she is so different. Why is she haunted by a childhood nightmare? What caused her mother to be in a long-term coma? And who are the enemy who now hunt her? As a dark and dangerous stranger enrols at her college, Imogen must try to unlock the secrets of her identity before the shadows of her past threaten to overwhelm her.
Have you always known you wanted to be an author, and was there ever a single defining moment when you realized that you have reached that goal? That this is now your career?
I won a Cadbury writing competition at the age of eight; so chocolate was my first incentive to write! I love books and have written many short dramas, a radio play and a children’s story (all unpublished) during my busy years as a mum of four. Having quit my day job five years ago, it was only when I wrote the last line of Chroma: Imogen’s Secret, that I realised ‘this is it – I am an author!’
Tell us a bit about Imogen's character. Who is she and how much of your own personality did you write into her?
Anne McCaffrey’s main character, Lessa (from the Dragonflight books) was the key inspiration for my heroine. Like her, Imogen is clever and analytical and has had to overcome adversity whilst concealing her real identity. As to whether Imogen shares my personality, I guess I would aspire to many of her traits, but I am not sure I have Imogen’s self-control!
Why the new extra-sensory perception to see emotions as colors? What inspired this concept?
I always thought it would be brilliant asset if you could tell if someone was lying. (How would politicians go on?) Body language can betray something of what we think, but I wanted to invent a way to see through a person’s ‘outer layer’ to their true feelings. As the story developed this became the central part of the narrative and I still long to have this ability in real life.
Did you know from the start Chroma was going to be a series?
No, when I started writing, it was with the intention of completing one book, but as the story grew, it was clear I would need to take Imogen further afield; that an epic story had begun. But I hope that readers will enjoy reading on and I have now planned for Chroma to be a trilogy.
The science in your book feels real and believable. How did you pull this off?
I am a fan of science fiction ‘proper’, which is grounded in fact. Add to this that my hubby is an engineer, plus I like to keep abreast of ‘futuristic’ style technologies, and the result is that all my gadgets and gismos are within the realms of the possible, no matter how improbable. A reviewer wrote that my ‘DE’, or ‘Data Encounter’ was “like Google on steroids!” That put such a smile on my face.
What appeals to you about the young adult audience?
I was bitten by fantasy / Science Fiction stories as a young adult. They made a lasting impression on my life and I wanted to emulate the best of those novels.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I have a worrying overactive imagination. Whilst this might be described as a skill which gives me ideas for story lines, it also means I have a secret ‘double life’ where I can smile sweetly at an annoying person whilst despatching of them in a deliciously creative way, in my mind’s eye. So, it is a good job no-one can read my Chroma!
How do you go about choosing your characters' names?
Many of my characters have Egyptian names that have significant meanings (Zuberi = strong / Sadiki = faithful). The reason for using Egyptian names will become clear in the next books.
Do you have a favorite line from the book, and can you explain what that line means to you?
The references to Monty Python are a tribute to my brother, Jonny. He was a real Monty Python fan. Sadly, he was killed in a traffic accident at the age of seventeen.
Talk to us about your writing routine; what’s a typical writing day for you?
I need to have a much better regular routine – it will be my New Year’s resolution! When I am writing it takes a good few hours to get going, but once that happens, I completely loose track of time.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
When I started, I only had a clear idea of my main character, Imogen. Her predicament sparked much of the storyline and without wanting to sound glib, the story did, at times, write itself. I do have a very general outline for the next two books.
What are you working on right now?
Books 2 and 3 of Chroma. Once those are finished, I hope to write a screenplay / TV drama based around a quirky dance group.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
I have a webpage, https://www.bfleetwood.com , Facebook page, www.facebook.com/Chroma1ImogensSecret/ and you can also find me on the author pages of Amazon, Kindle and Goodreads (where I have started a blog). It would be great to hear from readers / answer questions, so do get in touch.