Happy 2014, everyone, and welcome to a new year of Barren Island Books, an interview show in no way related to a popular music-based radio programme. You know how it works by now. Every Thursday, I exile my latest guest 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 these books for a long, long time …
My interviewee this week is Kristen Mazzola, author of Crashing Back Down. When she's not being banished to a desert island, Kristen can be found at khmazzola.wordpress.com.
Kristen, 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.
Hi all, I am Kristen, a twenty-something Florida girl, who would rather punch a shark than wrestle a bear hands down. I have an irrational fear of falling but heights don’t bother me in the slightest. But as long as I am near the ocean I am happy, so maybe this whole exiling thing won’t be too bad after all!
We can certainly guarantee plenty of ocean :-) And what about your own work? What are the inspirations behind it? What would make someone else choose it to accompany them into exile?
Crashing Back Down is my début novel. It is about a war widow trying to rebuild her life in the wake of the tragic loss of her newly-wed husband. It is a quick, entertaining read with twists and turns. Even though the main theme of the novel is dark and at times downright depressing, there are happy moments where she starts to remember who she truly is deep down. The inspiration for it was my love for writing and how much I fell in love with these particular characters. They really came to life for me and I hope they do the same in the reader’s mind.
It sounds amazing. So 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?
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. Whenever I think about this book, I smile. I was pretty sick when I was a kid and never slept well or through the night. But every night my mom would curl up in bed with me and read Goodnight Moon in such a loving, soothing voice. That book brings back a lot of wonderful moments spent with her.
Aw. Now I just want to give you a big hug! *hug* 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.
Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire. This might not seem like a life-changing book for most people, but for me it was. It was the first new adult read for me that I truly loved. It made me pick back up writing after a very long hiatus and got me wanting to write shorts. Some of those shorts ended up turning into Crashing Back Down.
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.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. In high school I was depressed, severely. I did not really know why, but I just simply did not like myself. The Perks of Being a Wallflower helped me know that I was not the only teen out there that was an outcast, depressed, confused, or needed someone to just listen.
Yeah, it’s definitely a book that can be enjoyed by anyone who is or ever has been an alienated teen (I had already turned 30 when I read it, and I still loved it!) 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 …
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I got it as a Christmas present, not really thinking much of it. I was bored because our holiday ski trip had been cancelled so I dove in. I am so glad I did. It showed me that I really can enjoy a story in almost any genre if it is told well and engaging.
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.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I am just simply in love with this book and it will be one of my all-time favourites forever.
Oooh, good choice. No doubting the classic status of that one! 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: Copper Line by James Taylor; film: Almost Famous; and other item would have to be a fishing pole. I can’t be on an island and not fishing, that would just be miserable for me.
Right you are. 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.
Somewhere in the Caribbean where the water is crystal clear and the sand is warm in between my toes!
That’s it, then – you’re ready to go. Thank you for joining us, and enjoy your trip!
Thanks for this! It’s been fun!
If you are an author and would like to take part in a future edition of Barren Island Books, please get in touch with me via the Contact page.