Amy Alward: First of all, CONGRATULATIONS on 10 years since the publication of Girl, Missing. I love the anniversary edition – it looks fantastic. As a fellow author, I know that these ideas have been with us for much longer than the published book – how long have you really been living with Lauren, Jam and the others?
Sophie McKenzie: Delighted to chat to you, Amy, and thanks for your kind words about the anniversary edition. I agree it looks brilliant and I’m really excited to see Girl, Missing being rebooted with such a great new look. I wrote the original book in a bit of a whirlwind – the first draft took about six weeks – and I didn’t want to stop writing about Lauren, Jam and the rest when I’d finished. However I couldn’t think of a way of extending their story until about five years later, when I came up with the ideas for sequels: Sister, Missing and Missing Me.
Amy: I was obsessed with mystery and thriller novels as a teen – they were my favourite books to read. One of my favourites was The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney, which follows similar themes to Girl, Missing, as it’s about a girl who discovers she was kidnapped – though Girl, Missing is much more thrilling! What is it about stories of missing people that is such an intriguing subject matter, do you think?
Sophie: I’m not sure why stories about missing people intrigue readers. Perhaps it’s because the idea of going missing is so powerful – parents fear losing their children and children fear losing their homes. And we all fear losing those we love. With Girl, Missing, Lauren embodies that common suspicion teenagers often have that they don’t really belong in their families. The fantasy that there may be another, more interesting family out there somewhere to which we belong is an alluring one!
Amy: Since it’s been 10 years since the publication of Girl, Missing, how do you think aspects of the novel would change if you had to write it in 2016 rather than 2006?
Sophie: If I were writing Girl, Missing today I think the central storyline and much of the plot would remain the same. However advances in technology and the impact of the internet would inevitably mean Lauren and Jam (and those looking for them) would handle things differently. It would be easier to trace the missing teenagers who would undoubtedly have smart phones to help them at every turn!
Amy: You’ve written a lot of novels since that first – how do you keep finding new, fresh ideas?
Sophie: I knew Girl, Missing was a strong idea as soon as I’d had it. It started with a single, simple premise: what would you do if you suspected you were stolen away from your birth family? Usually ideas build up more slowly than that. I’ve never had a problem coming up with fresh things to write about. I’ve definitely slowed down over the past few years, but as soon as I finish one book I’m always eager to move on to the next.
Amy: I love knowing what books my favourite authors are reading – do you have any recommendations from your just-been-read pile?
Sophie: I’ve been writing a lot this year (I write adult thrillers as well as teen ones now) so I haven’t read as much as I used to. But books I would totally recommend include the Night School series by C. J. Daugherty and a long-standing favourite of mine: The Secret History, by Donna Tartt.
About the Authors
Sophie McKenzie published her award-winning debut, Girl, Missing, in 2006. She has since clocked up numerous national and regional book awards, including the Red House Children’s Book Award and has been a featured World Book Day author twice. Her first book for adults, Close My Eyes, received rave reviews and was a Richard and Judy Book Club choice. Sophie worked as a journalist and magazine editor before pursuing her ambition to become a writer. She lives in London with her teenage son. www.sophiemckenziebooks.com @sophiemckenzie_
Amy Alward is a Canadian author and freelance editor who divides her time between the UK and Canada. In 2013, she was listed as one of The Bookseller’s Rising Stars. The Potion Diaries was an international success and selected for the Zoella Book Club, exclusive to WHSmith. The story continues in The Potion Diaries: Royal Tour. She is currently travelling the world, researching more extraordinary settings and intriguing potions for the third book in the series. www.amyalward.co.uk @amy_alward