Polly White talks about her debut book, What If I Go? – which shows the shocking, harsh reality of gangs, violence and drugs.
White is married with one child. She lives in the East Midlands and works part-time in educational and vocational settings.
What is your book, What If I Go?, about?
The book is about the harsh reality for some vulnerable people seeking their fortune travelling to England. Fifteen year old Grace comes to Birmingham from Romania with high hopes. However, the roads aren’t paved with gold but sex pests and drugs! Safety issues and culture shocks hit her head on while true friends reach out to her, family are kept in the dark. Justice and help are there but beyond her grasp for way too long. Grace seeks romance in the wrong places and pays for it big time. Her faith is renewed by the support she receives once she is ready to take help.
Is there a message in this book you want the reader to grasp?
To be careful who you trust in a new setting, like college or new job in an unfamiliar city. The consequences of wrong friendship choices can be traumatic.
Is this your first novel to be published?
Yes, I’m a newbie. I’ve been practising by writing short stories for fun and to get my head around difficult issues that I come across.
Was it difficult to get your first book published and break into the industry?
The US is more open to fiction that has protagonist with a Christian voice. Also, I think my current topic of grooming and child sexual exploitation was too hot for British publishers to contemplate, at this time when they are clearing up historical abuse cases.
What inspired you to write this book?
Empathy with used & abused young people. My aim was to raise awareness; to flag up signs of a controlling perpetrator to help avoid more young girls becoming victims.
Where did the title of the book come from?
I got into the mind of my main character to find her most pertinent question. Initially, it was to reflect how much guts it takes to leave home, then it was to do with the potential risks breaking free from a controlling man and his gang.
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
When I wrote little snippets of story for my own child.
Who is the first person to read your stories and why?
I’m targeting those students who have previously had their voices quietened. I’m warning isolated freshers and their families about straying into dangerous company.
Have you ever had feedback that made you want to give up? If so, how did you overcome this?
I don’t want to think negatively. Feedback can be harsh, I try to learn from it. The next novel will be shorter, though!
What are you currently reading?
I’ve just finished an empowering novella that is on the same wave length as mine, written by a South African author called Magnel Roets.
What kind of research did you have to do for this book and how long did it take you?
There was much research and soul searching towards the writing that took me to uncomfortable places, albeit fictional. I contacted the police and organisations supporting trafficked and groomed/exploited young adults. Attending a conference and reading widely around real abuse cases took a few years.
Do you read book reviews? How do you deal with the good and the bad?
Book reviews are essential and I value each experienced reader giving up their valuable time and making the effort to reflect upon the novel. I celebrate the good by sharing on Goodreads, Twitter & wordpress.
Have you ever struggled with writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it?
Writing has to be learnt, worked at and refined. Breaks come for research and to fill a writer’s life with experiences to draw upon. It is all about being inspired with an idea and driven by passion. I’m constantly editing and have aspirations to create a better manuscript next time. Keeping old stories to refine helps me work towards submissions, too.
What book do you wish you had written?
I wish I’d written the thought provoking novel that explores redemption possibilities called ‘The Shack’ by William Paul Young. This explores life’s toughest questions through the gripping story of one man’s struggle to find answers to his suffering.
Out of all the books that have ever been written, who is your favourite character?
It has to be Jesus from the bible… There are so many miracles that teach us the way to go.
Will you have any events (book signings) for fans in the near future?
Please follow my wordpress site for details of book readings & signings, plus new releases. https://pollyjwhite.wordpress.com
When you come up with an idea, what comes first – characters or the plot? And how do you develop the stories?
Plot comes first through the message I’m driven to get across. Then, I take the hand of my protagonist and explore directions they might go. Choosing the correct route to take and with whom can be scary and it’s not always happily ever after. Bringing the character to a place where they know themselves better and have learnt something life changing, is my overall aim.
Where do you see yourself in ten years time?
In ten years time I’d like to have a large following of cross-over readers that enjoy me telling them the truth creatively.
What do your family and friends think about your work?
They support my efforts and don’t begrudge me spending time at the computer or researching
Who designed the cover of the book? Did you have any input?
The simple front cover was chosen from many offered by Solstice Publishers.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Get yourself a member of a writers’ group and commit to attending. Share your works-in-progress. Read extensively to find excellent writing to emulate.
Do you have anything specific you would like to say to fans of your book?
Essentially, there are support organisation details at the back of the book for anyone affected by the sensitive contents.
Do you have a website or a blog?
More reviews coming very soon! Follow @bookwormgirl_24 for more details.