Today we'd like to welcome Keren David - author of the award-winning When I Was Joe and Almost True - answering some questions about her latest book...
Lia's Guide To Winning The Lottery is the new novel from Keren David, about a 16 yr old who wins 8 million pounds with her very first lottery ticket! It's a bit of a change from your previous stories, When I Was Joe and Almost True, which deal with knife crime and witness protection so what sparked the idea for this book?
Some of the publishers who read When I Was Joe said they weren't sure there was a market for gritty realism. I didn't particularly agree, but when I was thinking about what to do next, I wanted to avoid being pigeon-holed. What could be more grit-free than a book about winning the lottery?
Do you think though that there's the same theme of a change of identity running though Lia?
Yes! In some ways it's the opposite of When I Was Joe. There, something bad happens which means a boy has to hide away and adopt a new identity. In Lia's Guide, something good happens which means a girl gets a lot of attention and develops a public persona - Lia the Lottery Girl. In both cases they grow and change as a result.
Another obvious question has to be - Do you do the lottery and have you ever won anything substantial?
Yes, I do the lottery, although not every week. I've never won anything substantial, although each time I play I'm convinced that this will be the one.
IF you won, would you be a 'splash it all' or 'invest it carefully' person? How much would you have left after a year?
I'd invest it carefully, and my priority would be a new house. I'd hope to have a lot left after a year - depends how much I won though.
Is it 'right' to allow 16 yr old the possibility of winning so much?
I think that 18 might be a better age to start playing the lottery than 16, although 16-year-olds can be very sensible.
What would you do if your children scooped a big win?
If my children won - I'd hand them Lia's Guide, advise them to remain anonymous and suggest they put it all away for their future. But we might have a family holiday first!
I get the impression that you're not comfortable with some of the injustices of wealth distribution. That some people have too much and others so little that they're starving. Is there something morally wrong about too much money?
It's a fact of life, I suppose, although I do feel there are huge inequalities in society which seem to be getting worse, and viewed on a global scale, it's staggering to realise how many people are living, say, without proper sanitation, which could be provided with relatively small amounts of money. One of the themes of the book is the notion of values - all sorts of values, but particularly how we value people's worth in society. My view is that it's best to help people to help themselves, and that a fairer society is good for everyone. But I'm not against the lottery at all, I think it makes life fairer if ordinary people have the chance to win big prizes.
How did you research the background to winning the lottery? Did you actually get to meet lottery winners? or just the behind the scenes advisers? I was intrigued by the seminar that Lia attends for super-rich teens and young adults - presumably based on something that really exists?
I didn't meet any lottery winners, but I did meet some very helpful people from Camelot, the lottery company, whose job it is to help and advise winners. I read an article in a magazine about a seminar for young rich people - perhaps not quite as young as Lia - so, yes, they do exist. I also talked to someone who had worked as a private banker for a long time and had advised young lottery winners. It's not 100 per cent accurate - Lia would have met with a panel of independent financial advisers - but it's mostly based on the real experience of lottery winners.
And finally... is there more to come about Lia? Fast cars? Dodgy boyfriends after her money? Surely the problems of wealth haven't gone away?
No plans at the moment, but who knows? I suspect her love life could prove a little rocky. And then there's Natasha's ambitions to be a big star as well - I do feel a bit sorry for their parents!
Read Maryom's review of Lia's Guide To Winning The Lottery here
Keren worked as a journalist and as a messenger girl for a national newspaper and she had several roles in journalism including reporter, a political correspondent, a news editor, a comment editor, feature writer. She lived in the Netherlands for eight years and worked in Amsterdam as editor in chief for a photographic agency. She grew up in Welwyn Garden City and has lived in London, Glasgow and Amsterdam. In 2007 she moved back to London and decided to try to write a book. She took a course in Writing for Children at City University which was tutored by Amanda Swift.
While on the course she had the idea of writing about witness protection and two years after starting the course When I Was Joe was published.