An Interview With C.G. Drews on Her Novel ‘The Boy Who Steals Houses’

*This post was originally published on my previous blog in May, 2019*

Today I have the lovely privilege of sharing my interview with author C.G. Drews on her brand new novel The Boy Who Steals Houses. C.G. Drews is an Australia-based YA author, who brought us her first novel A Thousand Perfect Notes back in 2018 and is now back with her second novel The Boy Who Steals Houses. Published here in the UK by Orchard Books, imprint of Hachette UK, C.G. Drews bring us a YA contemporary novel of family, acceptance and love, following a young boy and his brother as they struggle to find somewhere to belong.

So I’ve seen you mention online that you wrote The Boy Who Steals Houses way back in 2016, what has the waiting process been like leading up to the release? Has it differed much from the release of your first novel A Thousand Perfect Notes?

I wrote The Boy Who Steals Houses for NaNoWriMo back in 2016, yes! It was a wild mess of a novel, but after 1 year of severe rewrites, it officially became the second book Orchard would publish from me. It was definitely a different beast to work on. And it hasn’t reached as wide an audience as A Thousand Perfect Notes did (second child blues?! haha) but it has been really loved and cherished by the book community. I’m very grateful!

Many of the reviews I’ve seen talk about how A Thousand Perfect Notes is incredibly emotional, and The Boy Who Steals Houses is no different; do you find yourself struggling to hold in your emotions as you write those particularly heartbreaking themes, or do you try your best to keep a level-head?

I’ve only teared up ONCE while writing… and it wasn’t for a book anyone else has read yet! So I feel all the things for my characters – but I don’t show it outwardly. It’s definitely a huge compliment to have readers tell me they ugly cried reading my books… just knowing my stories bring out emotions?! Ahhh!

Can you remember which book it was that first made you cry?

I don’t really cry reading either! Look, put on a super sad but hopeful 3min dog video for me and I’ll tear up so fast. Dogs are so precious omg. 

Moving onto a happier note, was there a particular scene, moment, or specific line that was a highlight for you in writing this book, that you took particular joy in putting down on the page?

Yes! All the banter scenes with the De Lainey family just made my heart explode with happiness. They’re not a perfect family and they snark at each other a lot… but they’re fiercely loving and tight-knit and the shenanigans they get up to were the best to write!

Are there any minor characters we haven’t yet heard about that hold a special place in your heart?

Jack and Jeremy are my secondary characters in The Boy Who Steals Houses… they’re twins and chaotic explosions of energy. I love them, ok, very very much.

What does your process of naming characters look like? Do the names come first or do you develop the character before assigning a name?

I find picking the perfect name is sooo hard?! Agh! I usually pick names I just like, which is how I landed on Sam and Avery for my main characters. But most of the De Laineys’ names changed over the course of edits. (Only Jeremy stayed the same… and he was vaguely named after a kookaburra picture book I’d read to my 3yo niece at the time. Ahem.) I also am very prone to choosing “placeholder names” and then just keeping them because names are hard.

On the topic of writing processes, do you listen to music when you write, and what sort of playlist might accompany The Boy Who Steals Houses?

I actually prefer to write fully in silence… I’ll even put on noise-cancelling headphones (with nothing playing) just to block out the world… and my noisy typing. But I always thought of the song Brother by Kodaline as rather the theme song for this book.

The cover is absolutely beautiful and one I’m very much looking forward to displaying on my bookshelf, what was the moment like when you saw it for the first time?

It is super beautiful and was designed by the very talented Thy Bui! I was so in love with the key aspect, because it really caught a pivotal part of Sam’s personality: he collects keys because they’re his promises that one day he’ll have a real home.

Now that The Boy Who Steals Houses is officially in the hands of readers, is there an overarching moral you wish for your readers to take away from the novel?

One of the key threads I wove through the story was: searching. It’s definitely a theme that I think will touch many, because so many people are searching for connection, for love, for somewhere to feel safe and wanted… for a family, if your own isn’t there for you. When readers close my book, I want them to take away that quiet whisper that they deserve to find what they’re searching for.

And finally, many avid readers of your blog will know that you’re always developing new ideas for novels, can you give us any idea of what might be coming next?

I’m not under contract for anything else, unfortunately! So hopefully The Boy Who Steals Houses does really well and publishers want to buy more books from me. Fingers crossed!

The Boy Who Steals Houses and A Thousand Perfect Notes are available to buy in bookstores and online including AmazonThe Book Depository, and Waterstones. Thank you to C.G Drews for taking the time for this interview, and I’m looking forward to what might come in the future!

‘The Boy Who Steals Houses’ Synopsis:
Sam is only fifteen but he and his autistic older brother, Avery, have been abandoned by every relative he’s ever known. Now Sam’s trying to build a new life for them. He survives by breaking into empty houses when their owners are away, until one day he’s caught out when a family returns home. 
To his amazement this large, chaotic family takes him under their wing – each teenager assuming Sam is a friend of another sibling. Sam finds himself inextricably caught up in their life, and falling for the beautiful Moxie. But Sam has a secret, and his past is about to catch up with him”

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