Q&A: R.J. Anderson
Allison is crazy. Or at least she's pretty sure she is. At 16, she finds herself in an insane asylum after having confessed to the murder of a class mate. But Allison didn't really kill her. She just... disintegrated. Disappeared.
But when a mysterious scientist visits her, she starts to realize that maybe she's not so crazy after all...
WHAT LED YOU TO WRITE ULTRAVIOLET?
Initially I was captivated by the concept of synesthesia, which is the condition my heroine has in the book. Synesthetes have cross-wired senses, so stimulating one sense also stimulates one or more other senses at the same time - seeing sounds, tasting words, associating people's names with shape and/or colour and/or texture, that sort of thing. I started to wonder what life would be like for someone whose senses were pretty much all cross-wired in this fashion, and whose perceptions were unusually acute. How would a person like that be regarded by others? What problems might their synesthesia cause for them, and what abilities might they have that would seem extraordinary to others? That was the seed from which the rest of the story grew.
STARTING OUT, WHO WERE THE AUTHORS WHO INSPIRED YOU? WHO INSPIRES YOU NOW?
As a child I loved the Narnia books more than just about anything, and C.S. Lewis is still one of my favourite authors. George MacDonald and J.R.R. Tolkien were also powerful early influences on me. My favourite author of more recent years is probably Megan Whalen Turner, whose Thief series takes place in a quasi-Grecian polytheistic world and therefore isn't "Christian" at all. But much of what Turner writes about faith and her main character's relationship to his god resonates deeply with my own convictions and experiences as a believer in Christ. Plus, she's a brilliant writer.
HOW DOES YOUR FAITH INFLUENCE YOUR WRITING?
As an author in the general market I don't "preach the gospel" in a four-points-and-an-altar-call sense, but my books consistently reflect my belief that in even the worst of circumstances and the lowest of places, God is there. And I pray that my Christian moral and spiritual worldview comes through, in a positive and meaningful way, in everything I write.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN YOU WANTED TO BE AN AUTHOR?
I really can't remember a time when I didn't. I started writing stories for my own pleasure at eight, and sat down to write my first Proper Book at twelve (though I didn't actually manage to complete a novel-length ms. until I was nineteen). Writing was always like an itch that had to be scratched for me; I just had to write.
WHAT DO YOU MOST HOPE THAT READERS GET FROM READING YOUR WORK?
I believe, based on what the Bible teaches, that being human isn't something to despise or despair over but rather to celebrate, because we are made in the image of God and He has a wonderful plan for us. As Paul wrote, "Even angels long to look into these things" - we humans have blessings and privileges that angels don't, for all their glory and power. I keep coming back to that idea in my writing, because I think it's an important contrast to the world's message that ordinary human life is dull and pointless, and what would be really thrilling is if we could become angels or faeries or vampires or whatever. Christ died for human beings, to redeem us and make us children of God -- there's nothing more precious or wonderful than that.