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 Liana Brooks, author of sci-fi mystery novel The Day Before (the first book in the Jane Doe series) – out now! When she's not being banished to a desert island, Liana can be found at www.lianabrooks.com.
Liana, 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.
... Exile? I missed that part of the invitation. O.0
Well, I am Liana Brooks and I write books (obviously). I would definitely pick punching the rostrum of a shark over wrestling a bear. The sharks have very sensitive rostrums and since I've already been bitten by a shark the odds of me being bitten again are astronomically high. Also, I live in Alaska and if I volunteer to face off against a shark there's a chance I might get a free flight to somewhere warm.
As for illogical fears and birthmarks ... no. I'm not telling you. I must keep the authorial air of mystery and suspense. BWAHAHAHAHAHA!
Hmm. Evil laugh, no identifying marks, secret Achilles heel … you’re actually a supervillain, aren’t you :-) And what about your own work? What are the inspirations behind it? What would make someone else choose it to accompany them into exile?
Look, you're going into exile and need to survive, right? You want to live through this experience. So why not take a book about survivors? If you read The Day Before you will learn: how to deal with being a clone, how to handle time travel, how to escape from a moving vehicle, how to take down multiple assailants with no combat training or weapon, and how to cook teriyaki-blueberry steak. These are vital skills you need in exile. Take the paperback edition coming out in May. Memorize it. Then use the pages to start a fire so you can cook your food.
Sounds like an excellent plan! So now let’s move on to the books you’re going to take to the island with you. First up, it’s your favorite 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?
My favorite childhood book was The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I was warped by fantasy at a very young age. I still have the green, leather-bound, and illustrated edition of The Hobbit that I took to my first kindergarten show-and-tell. My teacher asked us to bring our favorite book. I don't think she was expecting to see pictures of Smaug.
The story of the One Ring was the only thing I read until about fourth grade when my desperate parents introduced me to Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series. I was disappointed that Gimli and Legolas weren't part of the books, but there were dragons so I was appeased.
And, you know, I can't tell you what the appeal was. Maybe that the Tolkien universe was so simple. The bad guys were ugly, the good guys were human, and the day could be saved by small people doing simple things.
Yes! LotR had a similar effect on me, too, and probably for the same reasons. 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.
Oh boy. As far as fiction books go I'd have to say The Price of the Stars (by Debra Doyle and James D. MacDonald) is the most influential book I can think of. It's the one that made leave fantasy and reconsider science fiction. It's this epic space opera with a twisting plot, betrayals, and background details it takes three reads to notice. I loved it. The Mageworlds series set me on the path of writing sci-fi and SFR.
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 Complete Works Of Terry Pratchett. We're going to pretend that's a thing and the publishers do a giant compendium of his books. Wouldn't that be epic? The book would be enormous! And he'd probably laugh about the size and the ridiculousness of packing all those books into one cover. I'd still buy it. Terry Pratchett's words are my comfort read. He understands humanity so well. Of all the authors I've read I think he understands religion the best, even though he has always been an atheist. He makes me laugh
... and I know I'm talking about him in present tense. He died just before I received these questions and it still hasn't sunk in. His name is still spoken. His words are still read. In so many ways, Terry Pratchett lives on.
And I'm taking his Complete Works into exile with me. If I don't have Nanny Ogg's Cookbook however shall I remember how to make Banana Soup Surprise?
That is such a HUGE cheat, but I love the idea of a Complete Works of Terry Pratchett so much that I’m going to let you get away with it, even though that means your exile will be made a whole lot easier by the fact that you’ve basically got an entire library 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 …
Oooo, this is a tough one. I don't read in just one genre, and the books I opt not to read come from a curated list of books I know will give me nightmares. Outside of that I guess the YA genre is the one I read the least books from. In there I found the Gallagher Girls books by Ally Carter and I love them. I wish they'd been around when I was younger because it's the kind of book I would have devoured in middle school. You should read them.
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.
ONE???? You want me to pick only one? You're killing me, Smalls!
Okay ... if only one book can survive ... Thud! by Terry Pratchett. The soliloquy on war delivered in the closing chapters by the dead troll is everything we need in the modern world.
"For the enemy is not Troll, nor is it Dwarf, but it is the baleful, the malign, the cowardly, the vessels of hatred, those who do a bad thing and call it good ...”
Love it. A great quote from a wonderful writer. Though, of course, you already have Thud! as part of your Complete Works ;-) Anyway, we’ll get those five (er, 50?) 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 …
If you're sending music I'd like the Halo soundtrack. If you're sending movies I'd like one of the first three Bourne movies, A-Team, or Sahara. I like explosions and witty one-liners. Surprise me.
Oooh, it’s got to be Bourne. And I'll go with The Bourne Ultimatum, because that's my favourite and because you'll probably find it less frustrating to have the end of the trilogy than the beginning!
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.
Wherever the Swiss Family Robinson was located will work for me. Temperate weather, clean water, unlimited food supply, and I have a house waiting for me.
That’s it, then – you’re ready to go. Thank you for joining us, and enjoy your trip!
THE DAY BEFORE
A body is found in the Alabama wilderness. The question is:
Is it a human corpse … or is it just a piece of discarded property?
Agent Samantha Rose has been exiled to a backwater assignment for the Commonwealth Bureau of Investigation, a death knell for her career. But then Sam catches a break—a murder—that could give her the boost she needs to get her life back on track. There's a snag, though: the body is a clone, and technically that means it's not a homicide. And yet, something about the body raises questions, not only for her, but for coroner Linsey Mackenzie.
The more they dig, the more they realize nothing about this case is what it seems … and for Sam, nothing about Mac is what it seems, either.
This case might be the way out for her, but that way could be in a bodybag.
A thrilling new mystery from Liana Brooks, The Day Before will have you looking over your shoulder and questioning what it means to be human.
Buy it now