Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

On Writing, with Jeyn Roberts

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Jeyn Roberts

Jeyn Roberts is the author of Dark Inside (Simon & Schuster Canada), a post-apocalyptic story that weaves together the tales of four teenage survivors.

Jeyn talks with Open Book about her inner sociologist, how music informs her writing process and her upcoming projects.

Open Book:

Tell us about your book, Dark Inside.

Jeyn Roberts:

Since mankind began, civilizations have always fallen: the Romans, the Greeks, the Aztecs … Now it’s our turn. Huge earthquakes rock the world. Cities are destroyed. But something even more awful is happening. An ancient evil has been unleashed, turning everyday people into hunters, killers, crazies. Four teens are on the same road in a world gone mad. Struggling to survive, clinging on to love and meaning wherever it can be found, this is a journey into the heart of darkness — but also a journey to find each other and a place of safety.


You've written a great ensemble cast of young characters. Is there one person in the book with whom you particularly identify?


I think I identify with all of them at one point in another. But if I had to pick one, I’d say Aries. I’d like to believe I share her ability to keep her head together during stressful times.


What recurring themes or obsessions do you notice turning up in your writing?


I think one of my favourite themes is that people are never black and white. There is always a gray area. Even good people can do bad things when they’re forced up against the wall. I’ve always been very fascinated with the way people behave — either in a group or by themselves. I think it’s the psychologist/sociologist inside of me.


How does your experience as a musician and songwriter inform your writing process for fiction? What role does music play in your writing life?


It’s been very helpful for when I have to get up in front of a group and talk! Song writing is similar to novels. There is a beginning, middle and end. It’s all about how you place the story inside that structure. Music has always played an important role in my life. I listen to music while I write and it does influence my mood. I have different artists I’ll listen to depending on where I am in the book.


Who are some people who have deeply influenced (fellow writers or not) your writing life?


There have been a lot of wonderful people who have influenced me. Alison Acheson and Mimi Thebo were two of my university professors who really made a huge impact in my writing. I also have two good friends (Kaliya and Fiona) who serve as muses when I desperately need a bit of help because I’m stuck.


What book that you read recently really knocked your socks off?


Blood Red Road by Moira Young and Unwind by Neal Shusterman. I personally thought both books were brilliant.


What are you working on now?


I’ve just finished the second round of edits for the sequel to Dark Inside. I’m also working on a standalone novel that should be completed by the end of the year.

Jeyn Roberts's first story was published when she was 16 in a middle-grade anthology called Let Me Tell You. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in Writing and Psychology, received her MA from the prestigious Creative Writing graduate course at Bath Spa University. Jeyn is a former singer, songwriter, actress, bicycle courier and tree planter. Jeyn recently taught high school in South Korea, and is now back home in Vancouver, Canada.

For more information about Dark Inside please visit the Simon & Schuster Canada website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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