Former crime reporter CJ Daugherty is the author of the international best-selling Night School series. After graduating from university in Texas, CJ worked as a newspaper journalist in American cities including Savannah and New Orleans. She won numerous awards for her reporting, particularly her investigative journalism into corruption and crime. After moving to England, she wrote books about travel in Ireland and Paris for publishers including Time Out and Frommers. For a while she also worked as a communications consultant for the Home Office, specialising in counter-terrorism. Her Night School series has been translated into 22 languages, and has been a number one bestseller in multiple countries. She is now co-writing a new series, The Secret Fire, with French author Carina Rozenfeld. The first book in that series is due out in autumn 2015.
1. How did it feel finishing the Night School series?
Bittersweet. I love Cimmeria Academy, and I love the characters who go to school there. It is impossible to think I will never write about Allie, Carter, Zoe or Rachel again! But I also loved finishing that particular story. It felt amazing finishing my first series.
2. What was it like collaborating with Carina Rozenfeld?
It was such an adventure! We made up our own system, our own rules. We live in different countries so in the end we wrote the entire book by email. We each loved receiving a new chapter from the other. It made it all so fun!
3. Who inspires you?
I'm inspired by lots of people - but particularly by those who work hard to succeed, and who didn't get where they are through the help of family or connections. I am a boot-strapper all the way, and I have all the time in the world for those who, like me, are the first in their family to go to university. The first to try making a career in the arts. Because I know how hard it is.
4. Who are some of your favourite authors?
I'd read all of F Scott Fitzgerald's books twice by the time I was 17. Dorothy Parker is my favourite poet. I grew up on a diet of Vonnegut and Salinger. In modern fiction, I love Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series, and Elizabeth May's Falconer, also LA Weatherly's Angel series. Donna Tartt's book, The Secret History, made me want to be an author. Douglas Coupland's Generation X made me feel understood.
5. If you could be any character in any book who would you choose and why?
I would be Jay Gatsby, from The Great Gatsby. What a LIFE. A bootlegger turned millionaire, dancing on the edge of polite society, throwing the most amazing parties, unable to tell the truth about who he really is. Longing to be understood. I'd give him a different ending, though. A happy one.