What concept or situation about Misplaced makes it unique?Death is final. It’s terribly sad, but the person is gone. But when someone goes missing, there’s always a chance they might come back. That perennial spark of hope is perhaps the thing that makes loss through disappearance the most difficult. In Misplaced, Adam’s grandpa has Alzheimer’s, an incurable disease in which a person loses their memory over time. I felt this was an important parallel to Adam’s story of loss as a person suffering from Alzheimer’s can have occasional periods of lucidity, providing family members with the cruel hope that the person might one day come back.
What is your favourite scene from Misplaced and why?I particularly like the scenes in which Adam and his friends seek answers from a medium. From the outset the teens are sceptical, something the medium doesn’t know, which made it fun to write.
If you could tell us one thing about the young adult genre that makes your mind spin with ideas, what would that be?Teenagers are a contradiction. On the cusp of adulthood, they can accomplish almost everything an adult character can: drive a car, make a meal, use a cash machine, wield a sword, incite a riot, design a robot, even have a relationship. Yet their youth means they’re still trying to make sense of the world, so when faced with a particular situation you never quite know how a teenager might react. This makes them hugely exciting to write.
The book cover is lovely. Haunting. Who designed it?Thank you! The book cover was designed by Gisborne artist Romilly Brown, and is based on a photograph of one of my daughter’s school friends. I particularly liked the Mona Lisa character of the image: the way the boy looks as if he’s incredibly sad, but about to break into a smile, too. Romilly used that image, and gave it an interminable sense of waiting in keeping with the theme of the book.
Are any other books planned in this series? Will we see Adam and his friends again?I’d love that. When you’ve worked with characters for a while, it’s surprising how attached to them you become. I think that’s why we often see books in series: because their writers haven’t been able to let those characters go. It’s a bit like letting your teenager go off to college. So far, I’ve managed to distract myself with other book projects, and other characters, but Adam is a particular favourite and he has some plans… [laughs]. So, yes, there could be a sequel in Adam’s future.