An Interview with A Wielder of Staves…

Good Afternoon guys!

I hope that the spring weather is still with you wherever you are… I know here it seems to be spluttering a bit, but I have faith that she’ll return.

For this blog, I thought I would post an interview I had with a great journalist, Becky Paul. She did this interview with me around the time of my book launch last year. I thought you might find it interesting to delve into the weird and wonderful workings of a Staff Wielder’s psyche.

Where did you grow up?

I was born and brought up in Hamilton as the youngest child of four. I attended St Mary’s Primary School and then Holy Cross High School in Hamilton. I stayed in Hamilton until my, now, husband and I relocated to London in 2005.

In what ways have your surroundings inspired your book?

Hamilton is in some ways the starting point for my main character. While the book is set in the Highlands of Scotland, it’s briefly mentioned that Tom, my main character, was born and brought up in Lanarkshire. I think coming from a town like Hamilton with such a fabulous library, gave me the perfect inspiration for a character who was obsessed with stories.

Have you always wanted to write a novel?

No, is the honest answer. I’ve always had a hungry passion for literature and reading. From a very young age I spent a great deal of time in the local library and could constantly be found with my head in a book, something my brothers teased me for. After looking for career satisfaction in many different nooks and crannies, I decided to try writing as a hobby; it was just to give me a bit of escapism. I loved how easily it came and can’t imagine myself doing anything else now.

Do you have any more projects on the go?

Yes, of course! When possible, I have been working on the second instalment of The Staff Wielder Series, ‘The Ancient Exile’. This should be released in the latter half of 2011 and follows Tom on his second adventure. I also spend a great deal of time writing short stories and coming up with ideas I’d like to develop further in the future. As a writer, you end up spotting ideas everywhere you look. For example, after watching a documentary about a well preserved dinosaur found in the US, I decided to try to write a sci-fi graphic novel called ‘Dinosaur Mummy’. The premise would be that the dinosaurs were wiped out by disease, and that through messing around with the DNA left in this mummified dinosaur, we end up re-awakening the deadly virus. I’m still trying to talk my current artist and illustrator, Paul Gildea, into that one…

I have a bag full of ideas just waiting for the time to be written. Next time you’re sitting in a coffee shop, listen to the conversation at the table next to you, or guess where someone’s going when you see them in the street. The world becomes an amazing place when you ask yourself ‘what if…’

What do you think of JK Rowling?

I love JK Rowling and the Harry Potter series. It’s one of the series I know I’ll read and re-read my entire life, along with the Chronicles of Narnia or Cornelia Funke’s Inkworld books. The Harry Potter series has ensnared a generation of readers and I hope that a lot of them, like me, are still reading young adult fiction. Some of the best stuff coming out these days is for younger readers. They’re smart and expect a high level of quality in the books they read. If you sit on the train of a morning, it’s amazing the number of middle aged commuters who are sitting with Harry, Twilight or one of the Dark Materials books. Books written in this genre are for the age group 10 – 100.

I think these days, if you’ve written a young adult fantasy based story, people always ask, ‘Is it like Harry Potter?’ I don’t think mine is, but I think that all books of the genre will forever be compared to the Potter franchise now, either that or Twilight! If you are a pure fantasy writer that already happened when Lord of the Rings was published. Try writing an elf without there being a comparison made!

I know your protagonist is a keen reader, is his character drawn from your love of books?

Totally, as I said, I have loved reading from a very young age. My mum, a retired primary teacher, inspired me to read and also listen to audio books when stories were too advanced for me.

They did become an escape for me as a child, not from any unhappiness in my life, but as a tool which allowed me to go anywhere. In Tom’s case, I would say there is an element of escaping what’s happening to him. He freely admits that since his father’s death, he has actually become reliant on his stories. The ideas of heroism and adventure are fundamental to who he is, even if he doesn’t learn what they truly mean until he’s forced into an adventure of his own.

I think that nothing can best the world that waits on a printed page. Children especially, have the ability to create entire universes when presented with the right story. Very few adults can do this. I think that Tom is the story-hungry part of me that didn’t grow up.

Being a girl, do you find it difficult writing a male character?

Not really. I’m the youngest of four children and the only girl in my family. I grew up in quite a male dominated environment and enjoyed quite a lot of movies and games which would be more stereotypically associated with boys. Being born and bred on Star Wars and Star Trek has a lasting effect. At the same time, Tom is a sensitive character. I don’t think he’s the kind of character that a female reader won’t be able to relate to. I hope that he’s believable for an adolescent boy, while also showing that we shouldn’t all grow up too fast.

What are your favourite kind of books?

The question upon which an entire thesis could be written… I love reading and I suppose in the main, I do tend to read fantasy fiction. As mentioned, I love Harry Potter, Cornelia Funke, C S Lewis etc… I also greatly enjoy reading classics like The Secret Garden or Wuthering Heights. There are some great Scottish young adult writers on the scene just now, like Nicola Morgan, Barry Hutchison and Sam Wilding.

I would say the only genre that doesn’t sit too well with me is Crime Fiction, and that’s because I’m a bit of a coward. I don’t mind watching crime shows on TV, but reading about grizzly stuff can set my imagination into overdrive.

Where would you like to be with your writing in 10 years’ time?

The most straight forward answer is, still writing, which isn’t always easy. It’s a difficult career path to follow. I don’t know whether it will still be the same kind of fiction, but this definitely feels like the most natural job I’ve tried to do in my life. I don’t have any glamorous notions of being the next ‘JK’, I would be happy with a reasonably successful career that allows me to carry on doing what I love. Whether I’m still with Tom, or whether I’m off in a different universe with someone else, I’m sure it’ll be somewhere cool.

Does living away from Scotland make it difficult to write about it?

I wouldn’t say so. I’ve lived in London now for five years, but I don’t think it’s changed my identity. I think my vision of the Scottish landscape from holidays as a child, or even recent visits, is very vivid. I also have a wealth of family and friends, who bring a great big piece of home with them every time they come to see me (in my mother-in-law’s case it’s a bag of tatty scones and a whole black pudding). Obviously it would be nice to be four hundred miles closer to my publisher and all the other lovely Scottish writers I have met since starting out on this new career path.


I hope you enjoyed the interview, until next time folks, Keep Wielding!

9 Responses to “An Interview with A Wielder of Staves…”

  1. Allan Sneddon Says:

    Really like your honest approach to the interview.I can’t wait to see the Ancient Exile in print. I wonder is Becky available to interview other authors ?

  2. Clare Wilson Says:

    I’m sure Becky would be happy to help… A most accomplished journo… X

  3. Alexis Hribar Says:

    Great post & Fantastic blog I would definitely love to begin a blog too but I have no clue where to begin I possess the ability to do it (not that challenging on the technical part) but I really feel like I am too lazy to post regularly That is the problem if you start you have to go all the way However blogs like yours inspire me to have a go at it

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    Great interview!

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