When the sinkhole opened there was no time to brake or turn the wheel and the old green Land Rover was snatched off the dirt road over the smoking rim. The moment that a sinkhole swallows the car Daniel and his father are travelling in, everything changes: suddenly Daniel is the ‘miracle boy’ who escaped unharmed and his father is gone, trapped in a coma with no sign of recovery. Everyone wants to know the secret to Daniel’s escape, including a Mason, a gangster who believes that Daniel is special and can help him secure the biggest score of his career…whatever it takes…But is Daniel really special or just lucky? And can he use whatever other’s think is within him to help his father? A lyrical and atmospheric novel from the phenomenally talented Rupert Wallis about love, loss and learning to accept the world for what it is, not what it could be. Perfect for fans of Patrick Ness and David Almond.
1) Hi Rupert, please can you tell us a bit about your new book, All Sorts of Possible?
Yes, I’ll try to without giving too much away! The book starts with a boy Daniel (15) and his father in a car that is being swallowed by a sinkhole. Daniel survives but his father is left in a coma. The book follows the repercussions of the accident which become more complicated after Daniel discovers that he has a certain psychic gift that might allow him to help save his father. Is this perhaps the reason that Daniel miraculously survived, so he can help his dad? Is Daniel’s life playing out according to a plan or is that just his hope? Daniel’s attempts to find out become more difficult when a nasty small-time crook discovers the boy’s psychic gift and forces Daniel into using them for his own greedy ends. The book is quite dark in places but overall the tone is hopeful, at least I hope so! So far the early reviews have hinted that this is the case.
2) What made you choose the car being sucked into the sinkhole as a device to set the scene for the story?
When I start to think about a book then its first stirrings are usually images or moments or snippets of dialogue. From these I start to conjure larger set pieces and start to explore who the characters are in my head and what they’re trying to do. This was certainly the case for ‘All Sorts of Possible’ with the sinkhole. Having the road open up seemed like a dramatic beginning and I wanted to know where the story was going to go from there for Daniel and his dad. It’s always good to start a story with a dynamic opening that draws the reader in. Technically, it’s important too because by placing your characters in a pressured situation you start to learn quickly about who they are and you can show the real them to the reader. For example, in my first book the main character, James, is running away from his stepfather at the start – we are witnessing his reaction to something that has just happened to him – and it sets in motion the whole structure of the book, namely a road trip.
I should also mention here that Paul Coomey the brilliant book cover designer at Simon & Schuster used the idea of the sinkhole on the front of the book and it works really well! I think it portrays the sense of ‘falling in’ fantastically and I can imagine that the image would draw someone in if they saw it on a shelf in a bookshop or a library.
3) The ending – without giving anything away – is extraordinary! Did you know the book would end this way when you started writing the story?
I knew roughly how the book was going to end before I started but I didn’t know how I was going to get there and that’s the ‘fun’ of writing, of seeing where you go every day you sit down in front of your laptop. There is quite a lot of emotion in the book and I knew I had to harness that in some way to create a satisfying ending without it being mawkish. Most importantly it needed to work causally, I.e. that the story worked logically and seamlessly to reach that emotional climax.
I am beginning to realize that I tend to write beginnings and endings that echo each other in terms of their imagery. In the case of ‘All Sorts of Possible’ it starts and ends with an opening in the ground and my first book, ‘The Dark Inside’, opens and closes with James in his special place, “the house on the hill”. I guess it’s a useful way of creating a sense of resolution even if lots of things have changed for the main character over the course of the story. Interestingly, I recently discovered a fascinating piece of work on the Internet by @jacobtswinney that contrasts the opening and closing shots of movies and it’s a great visual pointer to making you realize how important openings and endings are as a tool for storytelling, either as a close echo of each other or in stark contrast. See how many movies you can name…! https://vimeo.com/122378469
4) Did Daniel, or any of the other characters, surprise you as you were writing; do your characters sometimes have a mind of their own or do you always feel in control of them?
Yes, they surprised me precisely because I don’t usually feel totally in control of any character when I’m writing. Once characters are set up,
and walking and talking, then they start to do things in their world by their own accord. I like to write this way, giving the character a free rein within the boundaries of the story I have selected because it make the whole writing process more spontaneous and interesting for me. It’s also a way of marrying plot with character which I think can be a difficult issue for writers to deal with, I.e. There can be a tension between writing a story that is too plot driven and one that is overly character-driven. Usually, in most stories, there is a marrying of the two and I like to reach a compromise by letting the characters react to situations I give them to see what they do and where they go. I give them the odd push here and there or rein them in from time to time but it feels like a collaborative process at one level! I think this is because writing is empathy really, which means putting yourself inside the heads of your characters.
5) Your first novel was called The Dark Inside, and in All Sorts of Possible someone talks to Daniel about dealing with ‘the dark inside’ him. Where did this phrase come from and what does it mean?
The phrase ‘the dark inside’ cropped up in the first book as a means of describing the angst that characters were carrying inside them, their painful unknowing about why bad things were happening in their lives, and it eventually became the title. At the end of the book, James, the main character, closes his eyes and stares into the dark inside him and finds something hopeful there which he had never noticed before.
The ‘someone’ you refer to in your question is actually James although he is older when he meets Daniel in ‘All Sorts of Possible’. I wanted to create a link between my first book and the second one to give them a loose connection. I decided to do this by giving James a brief role, and I also decided on a whim that he should use the phrase “the dark inside” in a further nod to this link. The second book isn’t exactly a sequel – both stories can be read independently of each other – but I liked the idea of having two stories operating in the same universe, this real world I have created where the supernatural has a presence too.
The initial reason for thinking about having a link between the two books was that readers kept telling me James stayed with them after finishing ‘The Dark Inside’ and some of them were wondering how he was getting on. I thought it would be nice to show them.
All Sorts of Possible by Rupert Wallis is out now.
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