CJ Skuse – Ask The Author

C.J. Skuse, author of adult crime thriller Sweetpea, was born in 1980 in Weston-super-Mare, England. She has first class degrees in Creative Writing and Writing for Young People. Before Sweetpea, C.J wrote five YA novels: Pretty Bad Things, Rockoholic, Dead Romantic, Monster and The Deviants and aside from writing novels is a Senior Lecturer on the MA in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University.

SWEETPEA is out now in Hardback, eBook and audio formats published by HQ/HarperCollins.

AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH… That’s me fangirling as I freaking LOVED your book SWEETPEA… so thank you thank you thank you for writing it and for agreeing to be intimately probed on my website.  Let’s begin:

Firstly do I call you Claire or CJ?

AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! You’re welcome Tracy! Ahem, so to your first question – Claire or C.J. Well it depends if you want to keep your kneecaps where God intended. I prefer C.J. but I’ll let you decide. J

 As you know I absolutely loved Sweetpea and have raved about it everywhere – without using any naughty swear words can you tell us more about it and the inspiration behind it?

Yes you have been very supportive but even so, stop asking me for money now Tracy. I’ve told you, it’s all offshore where not even I can get to it…

So how did I come up with the idea, well, *clears throat* *adopts ominous Vincent Price voice* it was a dark, stormy night and the rain was lashing at the sash windows of my ghostly manor house. I was sitting in my turret eating ye olde Maoams and browsing my Tumblr by the light of a guttering Yankee candle when suddenly, this strange and unusual meme emerged – Serial Killer Barbie. It showed Barbie in all these shocking scenarios – one with Ken’s severed head on a platter and his corpse stuffed in the fridge. In another picture, she had a doll’s bloody torso on the kitchen floor and some severed hands and feet in cooking pots on the stove.

And as I perused these fantastical pictures, I nibbled the end of my quill and suddenly there came the most tremendous clap of thunder from outside. I leapt up from my writing desk and ran to the door, tripping over all my vast number of literary awards and royalty cheques in the process. I shouted ‘EUREKA!’ which swiftly summoned in my hell hound. ‘Quick,’ I said to him, swishing my silken cape over my shoulder, ‘I must inform my agent of this momentous idea I’ve just had for my next yummy steamy novel! Take this sealed parchment to my agent in London forthwith. And Godspeed, my friend!’

As it turns out, hell hounds aren’t keen on going out in the pissing down rain so I had to email my agent instead. Once she’d stopped crying, I think she was delighted.

A little bird told me (well actually it was you on Twitter) that there is a sequel to Sweetpea (I think I may have wet myself a little in excitement at that news), what can you tell us about it and when can we read it?

Don’t wet yourself please, it’s very unbecoming. Though for piss stains I can highly recommend Vanish Oxi-Action. It’s never let me, I mean, a friend down in the past. So yes there is a sequel and I’m writing it as I speak. Or rather I will be once I’ve finished writing this. It’s been an absolute beeyotch to write because the story keeps going in different directions. Also, I’ve never written a sequel before – newsflash THEY’RE HARD. I have had to tie up loose ends from Book 1, establish a story for Book 2 and set things up for a possible Book 3. It doesn’t help that my uber-hormonal protagonist keeps killing people who actually might help move the plot forward.

Who would be on your kill list today?

It may be quicker to tell you who wouldn’t be on my kill list actually. Um well basically you, me, my dog …. think that’s about it for now.

You obviously have a rather dark (but delicious) sense of humour – what makes you laugh out loud?

I am the giggle at the funeral. Unless it’s my own funeral of course in which case I won’t be laughing cos I’ll be too busy decomposing. But in life, I laugh at everything. I take very little seriously if I can help it. And I really like comedians who light fires for other people pour kerosene on, like Ricky Gervais, Bill Hicks and Frankie Boyle. In this very easily-offended age, we need comedians like them more than ever to cut through all the bullshit.

We know you love Masterchef – what would be your speciality dish to cook and what’s your favourite ingredient?

I love MasterChef and I cannot lie. And I think it’s safe to say nobody can open a packet of Bombay Bad Boy Pot Noodle quite like I can. To posh-it-up I think I would take it completely out of the pot, which has never been done before (I’m a bit of a maverick in the kitchen) and I would put it on a square plate, deconstruct it, do some kind of jus on it and serve on a bed of nails with a humiliation of leeks and a disappointment emulsion – *Gordon Ramsay clap* done.

If you could describe yourself in words only beginning with C or J – what words would you choose?

Curious Joker, Contaminated Jezebel, Chronic Jaywalker

What is your favourite joke?


Do you read much and if so, what are you reading right now and what 3 books would you recommend to others?

I’m re-reading Danny, the Champion of the World cos I’m all eclectic, innit? I wondered why it rarely gets talked about alongside Dahl’s others books – then I remembered all these pheasants get really pissed and I thought ‘Ah that’ll be why then.’ Three books I would recommend … I’m going to choose ones that never get talked about. Tenderness by Robert Cormier, The Road of the Dead by Kevin Brooks, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte. All way ahead of their time and chronically under-appreciated.

Finally, if you were running for Prime Minister what would your campaign slogan be and what new laws would you introduce?

My slogan would be ‘For Christ’s sake don’t vote for me because I know nothing about politics.’ But if you insist then I think after all the important business is dealt with (wars, hunger, homelessness, taking certain reality show stars off air supply), I’d summon Tom Hardy and Taron Egerton to be my personal slaves, put a total ban on Tipping Point, Take Me Out and my neighbours from putting up any more extensions, make Tampax and Galaxy Counters free for all women every single day of their periodicals and instigate a new law where just for one day of the week, I’m the only person allowed to drive on the roads. Not that I’ve given it much thought of course…

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