Today I am interviewing Aliya Whiteley, author of the new science-fiction and fantasy novel, The Arrival of Missives.
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DJ: Hi Aliya! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Aliya Whiteley: Hi, and thanks for inviting me! I like to create stories that take inspiration from lots of different genres. I live in West Sussex in the UK, on the coast, and go for long walks to find new ideas. I also write non-fiction about films, books and television for online sites and magazines such as Den of Geek and Interzone, but making up stories is my passion.
DJ: What is The Arrival of Missives about?
Aliya: It’s the story of a sixteen year old girl called Shirley Fearn who has a huge crush on her teacher, and then discovers some very confusing things about him. That sounds almost straightforward, which is unlike one of my novels! It’s set in a rural village in the UK in 1920, just after World War I, so it’s historical fiction. But it’s also science fiction, in ways that I won’t give away. But love, both familial and romantic, and notions of duty and future are all examined and turned inside out.
DJ: What were some of your influences for The Arrival of Missives?
Aliya: A big influence was DH Lawrence. I’ve loved his books since I was a teenager, and there were moments in Missives where I really wanted to pay homage to his voice and themes. Also the films of David Lean were in my head when I wrote. Ryan’s Daughter – the use of landscape and also the relationship between the young woman and her teacher in that film – has fascinated me for years, so that’s definitely in the mix.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers will sympathize with them?
Aliya: Shirley is absolutely committed to making the world a better place, and she has ideas about how to do that which might well seem misguided or naive to us, but she believes in them totally at the start of the book. She was a wonderful character to write, with such a clear and passionate voice that smacks of youth. Everything is black and white to her, but then areas of grey begin to seep in as she spends more time with her teacher, Mr Tiller, and realises that he is a wounded man. The world becomes a much more complicated place for her, and I think we can all identify with that process of realising that we can’t solve every problem or even understand it. That’s growing up. I loved writing her, but she also broke my heart a little bit. Continue reading