Bridget Collins (born 18th August 1981) is the author of several Young Adult books published by Bloomsbury. She is the winner of the Branford Boase Award (for The Traitor Game) and twice winner of the Young National Poetry Competition (now the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award). After gaining an English degree she decided to study acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. She has had two plays produced, one of which received critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. After leaving LAMDA she began writing, and soon found that she loved it. Her first published novel was The Traitor Game, and now she writes Young Adult novels full time.
A Book Drum interview with Bridget Collins:
Hi Bridget! I’ve just finished reading Gamerunner and really enjoyed it. What inspired you to write it?
I suppose really it was my PlayStation that inspired me to write Gamerunner! This was back in the days before the Wii, and so I was imagining how cool it would be if someone could combine exercise-type technology with games like Tomb Raider or Prince of Persia... And at the same time I was really interested in archetypal stories, and wondering whether it would be possible to transfer a Greek myth to a really different, futuristic kind of setting - and the ideas seemed to fit together!
The book seems to capture the feel of online gaming very well. Do you or someone you know play online games?
I play video games, but not online ones – and when I appealed to my friends for first-hand information, they all claimed not to play them either! So Gamerunner came from my own video game experience plus some research...
Do you think online gaming is harmful, or is it just a bit of fun?
No, it’s not harmful. I think video and online games are so new we have a lot of anxiety about them – but the lure of worlds which are not “real” has always been something people get worried about. I think I read somewhere that when novels were in their infancy people had exactly the same sort of discussion about them (“Don’t buy them for your children! They rot your mind, you know...”). Obviously things like people playing WoW (World of Warcraft) for so long they die, or people apparently being desensitised to violence because of their gaming, are Bad Things – but I’m not sure you can blame gaming itself for that.
Do you think the world in Gamerunner could be our own future if we’re not careful?
Er... Well, it’s a very exaggerated picture of a possible future, I suppose. But really I took one element of real life and made it really, really extreme – and in the real world there would be a lot of other things at work. I don’t think of it as a prediction – more a sort of exploration of something that already (kind of) exists.
Tell me a bit more about yourself. When you were growing up, what did you want to be?
An actor. Always. I knew from – well, as far back as I can remember... One of my earliest memories is crying because my teacher made me the narrator in the Nativity play when I wanted a proper role! (I think it was mainly because I could read and most of the others couldn’t yet – but I was so upset they “wrote” me the part of Page to the Three Kings.)
That’s why I went to LAMDA after university – it just seemed like a good way forward.
Do you think you’ll act again at some point in the future?
Actually, I do still act a bit! My first film is having its UK premiere on Friday at Raindance in London, and I’m in the middle of rehearsing for a production of King Lear in Tunbridge Wells. So I haven’t completely given up...
Do you have any funny stories about a play you’ve been in?
Er... not really. Although I do have some scars. (I’m not joking. I have a – very small – scar on my forehead that I genuinely got in a dagger fight. I like being able to say that!)
So how did you get into writing?
I started writing because I was out of work after drama school, and I needed to do something creative just to keep myself sane. And then I discovered I loved doing it!
What do you like best about writing?
Being in control. That sounds really megalomaniac...
And the moment when someone tells you they’ve read your book and really enjoyed it. That makes me really happy.
Is there anything that you find hard?
Being on my own all the time. I’m naturally quite a solitary person, but even so it can get me down after a while. I have to make an effort to see people and have real conversations – otherwise I’d go round the bend!
What about writer’s block?
I haven’t had it so far... not seriously, anyway. When I just don’t know what needs to happen next in a book I’m writing, I take some time out and go running or swimming or something – and then there’s normally a kind of magic moment when I realise that not only do I know what’s got to happen next, but that I knew all along!
What advice do you have for any of your readers who want to be authors?
Read. Read everything.
Always great advice! Do you have a favourite book or author?
There are too many to count! It depends on loads of things – my mood, the time of day, what I’m working on, what I’ve just finished reading... For some suggestions about books which have really inspired me, have a look on my website at www.jugjugjug.blogspot.com – I give some recommendations...
Is there a person who really inspires you?
Again, lots of people! I don’t exactly have a hero any more, although when I was young I had a big T. E. Lawrence “phase” – that’s faded now, but it really informed Tyme’s End.
What will your next book be about?
I’ve got a book coming out in February which is about the Children’s Crusade – there’s a brief synopsis and a picture on the Coming Soon page on my blog.
Sounds great! What about Gamerunner’s sequel – any sneak peeks for us?
Well, Rick will be there – but the main character is Ario, a Cheat. (Her name might remind you of something...) And now that the Maze has Asterion at its centre, things are suddenly a lot more dangerous for everyone...
Interview with B. R. Collins (October 2011)
B. R. Collins’ books:
The Traitor Game (2009).
“A wonderfully gripping book for teenagers ... Brain food that's well worth feeding to your teenage boys - and stealing from them afterwards” Big Issue
A Trick of the Dark (2009).
“A multilayered, metaphysical thriller ... dark, uneasy and extraordinary” The Times
Tyme’s End (2011).
“An atmospheric and spooky story which forces the reader to wonder about the dark truth behind the history of Tyme's End” The School Librarian
The Broken Road (coming 2012).