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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Interview: Susan Brocker talks about Caged

Susan Brocker has written over 50 fiction and non-fiction books for older children and teens, which have been published worldwide. She has a history degree and a love of social history that is reflected in her books. Susan also has a close affinity with animals. She lives with her husband and many pets in a lovely old villa on a small farm near Tauranga.

Susan talks to NZ Booklovers.

Tell us a little about Caged?

Caged is about a teenage girl from a struggling homeless family who becomes entangled in crime. She must eventually face her fears and her sense of what is right to defy a dangerous criminal and rescue puppies from a cruel backyard breeder.

What inspired you to write this book?

Like many people, I’m concerned about the level of homelessness in New Zealand. I help out at our local SPCA, and over the past few years I’ve seen many families having to surrender their pets because they’ve lost their homes or can’t find rental accommodation that will accept them. Through my work at the SPCA, I’ve also learnt about disreputable backyard breeders who make money breeding and selling puppies. As the SPCA say, everyone deserves a “Forever Home”.

What research was involved?

I spoke with various agencies trying to help the homeless, such as food banks and local church groups. I also spoke with the SPCA about the growing problem of irresponsible backyard breeding and the work they’re doing to try and bring in new regulations.

What was your routine or process when writing this book?

I always start with a general plan or structure, so I know where I’m heading with the story. I then try to write every day to immerse myself in the story and characters. Eventually the characters take on a life of their own and they sometimes move the story in different directions from my overall plan.

If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.

"Another Day in Paradise" by Phil Collins which is about homelessness and not turning a blind eye to it. Then I’d like a folk singer to write a song for Bobby, the pup in my story who is named after the famous Greyfriars Bobby.

If your book was made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the lead characters?

Hmm, I’m not sure about who’d play Sam as I don’t know many teenage actors, but possibly someone like Thomasina McKenzie. I think Hugo Weaving would make a great evil Fowler.

What did you enjoy the most about writing Caged?

Seeing Sam grow in confidence and develop the courage to stand up to the cruel bully and help her family and friends. I also loved her relationship with the pup she saved, Bobby.

What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?

I took my own dogs to the beach for a long walk.

What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?

That’s tricky as I’ve read and enjoyed so many. But the one that surprised me the most with its clever twist was The Wife and the Widow by Christian White.

What’s next on the agenda for you?

I’ve begun work on a mystery/adventure about a teenage boy and his imaginary “friend,” a story inspired by the old song Puff the Magic Dragon.

Scholastic NZ


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