How Patrick Ness got started, and why he's finishing another writer's book

Illustration for article titled How Patrick Ness got started, and why he's finishing another writer's book

There's an absolutely fantastic profile of Patrick Ness, author of The Knife Of Never Letting Go, over at Publishers Weekly. Find out how he sold Knife based on just a 40-page excerpt, and how he's finishing another author's book.


Ness talks about striking the right balance in writing his illiterate protagonist's voice in the Chaos Walking trilogy, which began with Knife:

Vernacular is a way to communicate a lot in voice without exposition-Todd is smart, but no one's ever had a chance to show him how to write. But the danger of using vernacular is it's a lot more fun to write than to read. I had to keep scaling it back until I found the right amount.

And he says the idea of "noise," the psychic din that overwhelms people, came from the fact that the world is already a noisy place, with cellphones, text messages and the Internet.

And Ness explains why he's finishing a novel by children's novelist Siobhan Dowd, who died of breast cancer in 2007. He never met her, but he fell in love with the idea behind her unfinished manuscript:

The novel, titled A Monster Calls, involves a boy whose mother is ill and centers around the healing powers of the yew tree. The drug Tamoxifen, which is used in many cases to treat breast cancer, is derived from the bark of the Pacific yew tree.

The whole thing is well worth reading. [Publishers Weekly]


I was not a fan of the first book; the same BOO! scene happens over & over & over, & the genderpolitik, which could have been used to make a point, is instead just flat & sort of insulting. The book runs about 150 pages too long...& then you find out that there are two more to come before there is any real resolution.