Australian author Jack Heath was born in 1986 and started writing his first novel in high school. It was published when he was 19. He has since written several books for teenagers, which are published all over the world. Heath has been shortlisted for Young Australian of the Year, the Nottinghamshire Brilliant Book Award and the National Year of Reading ‘Our Story’ Award. He is a regular guest on Australian television and his videos have more than 30,000 views on YouTube. He divides his time between writing and touring high schools.
In his latest YA novel, Heath explores what it means to be human: the power of love, bravery and sacrifice. Replica tells the story of Chloe, a girl who wakes up to find all her memories are gone. The only person who knows what happened is a teenage girl who looks and sounds just like her. But who is she? And what does she want?
We talk to Jack about his biggest influences and what a typical day spent writing looks like.
OUP: How did you come up with the idea for Replica?
JH: I can’t be the only person who’s wondered how their family and friends would cope if they weren’t around any more. I was thinking about this in the middle of the night and it occurred to me that it might be possible to make a mechanical replica of me to look after my loved ones, who may not even necessarily realise that I was gone. But the real epiphany was this idea: What would it be like to be that replica?
OUP: How long did it take you to put the book together?
JH: I wrote the first draft in about three weeks in early 2012, but it took two years of pretty radical editing to turn it into the book it is today. I’ve never had a manuscript change on me so much, but I’ve also never published a book I’m this proud of.
OUP: Describe a typical day spent writing. Do you have any writing rituals?
JH: My schedule is so variable that it’s hard to find a typical day, but the really good days tend to have at least a few of the following ingredients: getting up before anyone else, making a decaf coffee, being deprived of the internet (through accident or design), staying in pyjamas until lunchtime.
OUP: What writers, books, or ideas have most influenced you?
JH: Replica certainly owes a lot to Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep and Frankenstein. But the most influential series – the one which made me want to write diversity-inclusive action-packed sci-fi for kids – was Animorphs, which I adored as a kid (and still do).
OUP: Are you currently working on something new?
JH: Always. I’m trying to put together REPLICA 2, as well as a horror series and a YA espionage book called CUT-OUT. I never stop – writing is as much my addiction as my job.
Check out the Replica book trailer:
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