About The Author
Sarah Crossan is originally from Dublin. She graduated with a degree in philosophy and literature before training as an English and drama teacher at Cambridge University. Sarah taught English at a small private school near New York until she became a full time writer. She completed her Masters in creative writing at the University of Warwick in 2003. Her debut novel, The Weight of Water, won The Eilís Dillon Award for a First Children’s Book, the We Read Prize, a Coventry Inspiration Book Award and a UKLA Book Award. It was also shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal and the CLPE Poetry Award. Apple and Rain has been shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal, the CBI Book of Year Award, the Independent Booksellers’ Award and the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards.Sarah is also the author of Breathe and Resist.
Incredibly moving and extraordinarily crafted, Sarah's new book, One, explores the unbreakable bond and love between sisters. Grace and Tippi are twins – conjoined twins. As the book opens, their lives are about to change: with their parents no longer able to afford homeschooling, they must venture into the world – a world of stares, sneers and cruelty. But what neither Grace nor Tippi realises is that a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead. A decision that could tear them apart. One that will change their lives even more than they ever imagined. This moving and beautifully crafted story about identity, sisterhood and love ultimately asks one question: what does it mean to want and have a soulmate?
Our junior interviewer Elaine talked to Sarah about her fascination with twins, why she wrote the book in blank verse and her fantasy career as a racing car driver!
You can also read the opening 30 pages of the book here.
Questions & Answers
What gave you the idea for this book?
I'm not sure exactly. I've always been fascinated by twins, and when I saw a documentary on the BBC about two American women, Abby and Brittany Hensel, I just became more and more intrigued by the idea of conjoined twins.
What made you decide to tell your story in blank verse?
I actually started writing the novel in prose, 30,000 words in fact, when I felt something wasn't working. I decided to try writing in verse, and everything seemed to fall into place, especially the protagonist's voice.
Do you know any conjoined twins, and if not, what research did you have to do?
I don't know any conjoined twins personally, but I do now feel I know much more than anyone about many of the conjoined twins who have existed through history. I spent weeks at the British Library pulling every (non-fiction) book and article I could find on conjoined twins, and also had a wonderful opportunity last year of talking to Europe's leading surgeon for the separation of conjoined twins, Edward Keily, as well as other heart specialists from London's UCL and Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital.
What happens to Dragon and her eating disorder? What more could be done to help people like her?
Dragon is a strong character. She knows she has to be better in order to support Grace, so I think she will find ways to get help. In terms of helping young people with anorexia and other eating disorders, I feel that help simply needs to be offered and on show, so anyone who feels ill in this way, has somewhere to turn to.
How responsible does Grace feel for what happens to Tippi? Will she ever be able to move on?
Grace knows it isn't her fault, which it isn't. As for whether or not she will move on, I do doubt it. How could she? But the thing is, she is living, and that's the important thing. She is living and every day she makes a decision to stay alive.
Why wasn’t Yasmeen popular when she was so kind to Tippi and Grace?
Yasmeen is an outsider because she is different to the others in the school. She has an unusual look and a wild personality but not only that -- she has an illness which frightens people.
Looking back, are there any parts of this book you would change?
No. One hundred percent no!
What made you become an author and what would you have been if the writing hadn’t worked out?
I love books. I love reading and writing, and that's it. If I hadn't been a writer, I probably would have continued to work as an English teacher. But if I had to do something completely unrelated to books, I would quite fancy being a racing car driver or something like that. I do like a nice motor.
How easy is it to get inside the minds and create the voices for teenagers?
I don't find it all that difficult really, perhaps because I haven't fully grown up. I was a teacher for ten years, and I think this helped too.
Have you ever wanted to write a sequel for this or any of your other novels or is it fairly easy to leave your characters behind and create new ones?
I wrote a sequel to BREATHE and that was fun, but as for the standalone novels, I don't feel compelled to return to them. What's done is done!