C J Flood is a recent graduate of the UEA Creative Writing MA. She is a member of the Lucky 13 writers group and has already won several awards and prizes for her writing. Infinite Sky is her debut novel and she is currently working on her second book. She lives in Derbyshire.
Infinite Sky is a tragic story. What drew you to write something so desperately sad?
I don’t know! I’m quite cheerful in real life, but when I sit down to write, it’s often the sad stuff that comes out. When I was 18, someone close to me had encaphillitis of the brain, and was diagnosed as being in a vegetative state. It was an awful thing, and of course, I’ve never forgotten it.
How do you think young readers will respond to that aspect of the book?
I think they will respond to it in the same way as adults will, if they are neurologically typical, and find it very sad. I think that teens are well-versed in death and grief and tragedy from soaps and cinema, even if they are lucky enough not to have been immediately touched by them in their own lives.
The story is set during summer in the English countryside.How important is the setting?
The setting is incredibly important, and I like to think that the story couldn’t have taken place anywhere else. Not the way it did, anyhow. Well, within reason, I mean, it could have taken place in any landlocked county in England
From the prologue, we know the story is leading to a death. How did you decide upon this structure? Did you always intend to start that way?
I decided to structure the book this way very late on, about a week before we were going to send the book around the publishers, in fact. A writer friend of mine made the suggestion on reading the manuscript, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it myself. It seemed a fairly strident move for me at the time, as I was so set on writing a classically structured, traditional model, but I think it works really well, and am very grateful to him for the suggestion.
The story is narrated by Iris who is thirteen, nearly fourteen. Tell us about her.
Iris is a quietly brave person, who does her best to do the right thing by those she loves, which is why she is so torn when her beloved dad bans her from having anything to do with the travellers. She has already begun a friendship with Trick, and she believes him to be a good person, but she doesn’t feel comfortable about disobeying her father. She is adventurous and loyal and sensitive.
One of the other main characters, Trick, is a Traveller. Tell us about him and why you chose to include a family of Travellers in the book.
Trick Delaney is my favourite character in the book, if I’m pushed to choose, and I think that’s because he is the one who best looks after Iris. Her family are all caught up in their own sadness and bewilderment, and so she is desperate for a little care and attention, and Trick provides this. He has his own issues to deal with, of course, but he is very protective of Iris. Really, their relationship is very innocent and sweet, and it more about them being there for each other than about romance or passion.
Infinite Sky is your debut novel.What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of just finishing it. I have started lots of novels, and it was a becoming a very serious fear of mine that I simply wasn’t capable of finishing one.