Welcome to Barren Island Books, the author interview series that’s in no way related to a popular music-based radio programme. You know the rules by now: my guests are exiled to a remote island with only five books for company, selected from the categories I give them. It’s up to them to make sure they choose wisely, because they’re going to be stuck with those books for a long, long time …
My interviewee this week is Alesha Escobar, author of the Grey Tower trilogy and contributor to forthcoming sci-fi/ fantasy anthology Masters of Time. When she’s not being banished to a desert island, Alesha can be found at www.aleshaescobar.com, or on Facebook, Twitter or Amazon. You can watch the Masters of Time trailer and enter a giveaway at the end of the interview!
Alesha, thanks for joining us. First of all, could you please tell us a little bit about yourself – just so we know who it is we’re sending into exile. Illogical fears, unusual birthmarks, whether you’d rather wrestle a bear or punch a shark, that kind of thing.
Let’s see … I have an illogical fear of very old homes (I’m convinced they’re all haunted), I’m a caffeine addict and chocoholic, I adore classic literature, but I also have a fondness for science – I did a year and a half as a biochemistry student in college before switching over to English Writing. I love laughter, and I’ll go out of my way to make you smile, and if you’re my friend, we’ll be friends for life.
Books, chocolate and laughter: a girl after my own heart! And what about your own work? What are the inspirations behind it? What would make someone else choose it to accompany them into exile?
My current work is a story called Logan 6, which is included in the Masters of Time anthology. My reader-in-exile will be able to read stories by five other authors, and me, about what’s possible with the power of Time. In Logan 6, I present the story of a clone in a distant future, who wakes up one day asking questions he hadn’t thought to ask before, who feels things he has never experienced before, and instead of rejecting all this, he embraces it. He questions things, even his makers – and that’s when things get dangerous. The inspiration behind this story is the question I had as to whether some forces are better left alone. The hero of my tale is a human clone – well, should such a being even exist? Is he fully human? Does he have a soul? And then there’s the time travel – if we had the technology to control Time, would we use it to heal or destroy? These are deep and amazing things to consider, and hopefully Logan 6 offers an interesting perspective on this.
It sounds brilliant. Now let’s move on to the books you’re going to take to the island with you. First up, it’s your favourite childhood book – perhaps the one that got you interested in reading in the first place, or the one you read over and over when you were young. Which will you choose, and why?
Aesop’s Fables. I spent a great deal of my childhood at my grandmother’s house, and those were the days before XBOX and iPhones, so you had to either go outside and play, and stay outside, or you could sit inside and read. I ended up reading a lot, and one book that always entertained me was Aesop’s Fables. I think I liked it because I caught on to the lessons presented through the characters and stories. This would have to go with me to the island because I’m sure there could be a few lessons I could apply to my predicament (The Ant and the Grasshopper, anyone?).
Next, the book that made the greatest impact on your life. This could be one that inspired you to become a writer, or one that made you look at the world in a whole new way – maybe even one that resulted in real-life romance or adventure.
Frederick Douglass’s autobiography. He was born and raised a slave, yet through determination, education, and this beautiful, unbreakable spirit, he managed to secure his freedom and become an amazing abolitionist and orator. This definitely made an impression on me, because I believe that working hard and obtaining an education (and one can be obtained in various shapes and forms) are important to the development of a person, and to the realization of his or her goals.
For your third book – and you’re probably going to need this one, all alone on a remote island – I’d like you to choose your greatest comfort read. You know, the one you turn to when you’re sad or ill or just need a little pick-me-up.
George MacDonald's At the Back of the North Wind (yes, despite the ending), because it has this beautiful undertone of hope, purpose, and the comfort that things will be okay – even if things don’t necessarily end the way we want or expect.
Which is the perfect message to take to a desert island with you! Fourthly, it’s your unexpected treasure: a book you didn’t expect to like but did, maybe one outside your usual genre or that you picked up with low expectations but were pleasantly surprised …
When I first began reading fantasy, because I had started off with books like Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, etc., I think I had a narrow view of what type of fantasy I’d like, so I never thought I could be interested in the sub-genre of urban fantasy. Then, I read Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, and I had a blast! It definitely opened me up to other sub-genres.
And finally, I’d like you to choose your instant classic – the book you think most deserves to be read and reread by future generations. It’s up to you whether this book is already considered a classic or is something more obscure.
The Divine Comedy by the Italian poet Dante Alighieri. I first read it in college, and ever since then, I’ve simply loved it. It incorporates gorgeous poetry, turns of phrase, lofty concepts peppered with humor, philosophical discourse, and keen insight into the human condition (yet it is also able to take all that and have it touch the divine). You travel with Dante, from the lowest circles of the Inferno to the greatest heights of Paradise – and his one, constant saving grace is the trio of Ladies who oversee the salvation of his soul – Beatrice, the love of his life who had preceded him in death, Saint Lucy, the patron saint of the blind, and the Blessed Virgin Mary, who seems to always keep vigil over him and other lost and lonely travellers in this journey we call life.
A true classic! We’ll get those five books packaged up ready for your journey. Since we’re not completely heartless here at Barren Island Books, we’ll also let you take one song/piece of music, one film and one other item of your choice into exile with you …
Song – Happy (I’ve got to keep positive, right?)
Film – The Matrix (I watched it when it first came out. It blew my mind, and I’d still re-watch it today.)
Final Item - A photo of my family. I want a reason to get off this island! I noticed there was no mention of coffee on the island, so I would definitely have to plot an escape.
True, there is no coffee, and no chocolate either, so you'll have an incentive to escape really quickly! Now, before we whisk you away, you have one last decision to make: where you want your remote island to be located. You can choose anywhere you like for your exile, in this world or another.
Anywhere where the temperature is warm and mild. I’m a native Californian, so I’m kind of wimpy when it comes to enduring harsh weather.
That’s it, then – you’re ready to go. Thank you for joining us, and enjoy your trip!
You can preorder Masters of Time in ebook format for only 99p/99c from Amazon, Smashwords, iBooks or B&N. The trailer is available to view below, and don't forget to enter the giveaway!