The International Writers Magazine: Interview
Q & A with Sam Hawksmoor May 2012
||The editor M. D’Agneau interviews Sam Hawksmoor
author of the exciting YA novel 'The Repossession' published by Hodder 2012
'An intense, edgy thriller for readers who love suspense, action and romance'
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books March 2012
M: The Repossession tackles quite a number of themes that affect teens - runaways, religion, abduction, young love, and difficulties at home. Too hot to handle?
S: Estimates in the UK by The Children’s Society are that as many as 80,000 kids maybe at risk in any year whether contemplating running away or suffering violence in the home, bullying or inappropriate exposure to drugs or sex. In Canada RCMP police stats reveal at least 70,000 kids go missing a year (although up 60 percent are found within 72 hours). It’s the ones who aren’t found or wind up in prostitution or in trouble in other ways one worries about. In America the number is closer to a million. Kids who cannot cope with the pressures in the home or without, kids who are being mistreated or disrespected, or like Genie, fallen in love and the parent has forbidden all contact. There is a massive failure of good parenting going on in the west (never mind the distress of divorce and other issues) and the kids are paying the price for it. The Repossession just deals with one small town in BC where kids are going missing, who never call home, are never found. That’s what it unusual here. The kids have completely vanished. So in answer to your question, kids are under pressure more than they ever were – so yes I think they can handle this story.
M: Genie Magee is in love with Rian – it’s a very pure situation – it feels very intense and genuine. Based on anyone?
S: I think that all teenagers feel intensely about relationships – its urgent and you feel that your love is more important than anything or anyone else around you. It’s the one thing most parents probably fear the most. Certainly I remember feeling that way and the hostility my mother had for the girl at the time. Her resentment knew no bounds. Genie is based on a particular girl I know and the passion and fortitude she possessed when younger – still possesses.
M: Science plays a big part in The Repossession yet I think you lead us astray at the beginning…
S: Darn you noticed. But actually it’s all laid out at the beginning if you look closely. It’s just that I wanted the reader to think that this might be about something else. The moment that Genie discovers all those newspaper clippings of the missing kids pinned up on the wall of Marshall’s bathroom – she is convinced she and Rian are going to be murdered by a serial killer… that’s the key. Is he or isn’t he? She isn’t going to know until she wakes up - if she wakes up!
M: But Marshall’s the good guy.
S: Sshh, but why is he a good guy? He’s a man wracked by guilt because he thinks he knows what his former employer is up to and that’s why he’s trying to find out what happened to those missing kids. He was once part of all that and it nearly killed him.
M: Teleportation is central to the novel. How likely do you think it is it will be ever developed?
S: Look at the money thrown at the CERN project as they search for the Higgs Boson (God Particle). The Fortress is on a similar journey, spending billions on pure science in the hope that it will have a commercial outcome. Think how casually people teleport in Star Trek, no worries about getting there without mussing their hair gel. How likely is that? I have always been interested in technology, but how was it developed? What were the risks? How many trials went wrong? For me science fiction needs to be rooted in reality – in ordinariness with all the problems that come with experimentation. I grew up in an era when we thought space travel would be an everyday part of our lives. It didn’t happen. The price of rocket fuel is only part of that equation. Thanks to sending guys into orbit for a long period we now know that astronauts will lose bone density in long journeys and that means brittle bone disease. Essentially we realise now that humans can never stray far from earth. Which leads us to the realisation that if we are to explore other worlds it will have to be robots that do it. (The one thing Bladerunner got right). That’s the crux of The Repossession; that science is constrained by the laws of unintended consequences. Genie Magee is the anomaly – scientists have no idea why she is unique. With luck the reader will understand.
M: The setting in up-country British Columbia is unusual. Why there? Do you have a special reason for that?
S: The small towns strung alongside the Fraser River and the Mountains that border them have long held a fascination for me. They are rich in history and of course part of the gold and silver rushes of the 19th Century. For some reason they get a lot of runaways from these small towns. Intolerance or just the lure of the big city being too hard to resist, who knows. But I love the interior, the long empty roads, the wildness and the forests, not to mention the vineyards of the Okanagan. Hydro power is important to BC and the Fortress needs a huge amount of power. That and BC is in the forefront of some important 21st Century electric and bio technology discoveries. Vancouver is where the real frontier is now.
M: The Repossession is followed by The Hunting in August. What more could possibly happen to those kids? Will they ever get revenge on the evil Reverence Schneider?
S: They are fleeing from The Fortress – there’s a price on their heads and they are on the unforgiving river – Hunters with guns close behind. The Fortress has a new ruthless boss who doesn’t even regard them as human anymore. At some point they are going to have to stop running, turn around and face the enemy. They have no choice. Genie, along with Denis and Cary, discover there was another earlier experiment that could be possibly used to against the Fortress. But can she save the other kids who are already slipping into a coma? It doesn’t look good for them.
The hardest thing for me was keeping Genie Rian and Renée alive – nevermind Moucher, but I think you’ll find The Hunting is quite a rollercoaster… and as for Reverend Schneider, you'll have to wait and see.
M: Well I for one am looking forward very much to The Hunting. Thanks and good luck.
Read some reviews of The Repossession here & here & here