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 W.R. Gingell, author of Wolfskin – currently on tour! When she’s not being banished to a desert island, W.R. can be found at www.wrgingell.com. Stay tuned for more information and a giveaway at the end of the interview!
W.R, 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.
Well, the most important thing you need to know is that I love apple pie. Feed me apple pie, and everything will be okay. My most illogical fear is that my house will burn down when I’m out, and will take with it all the book files of my own writing, and also all my beloved books. I never feel like I can leave the house without a back-up flashdrive of my books with me, and I’m still always terrified that THAT will go missing, too!
Hmm, punching sharks or wrestling bears ... well, I’m actually a HUGE coward, so by the time the answer to this question is read by the masses, I’ll already be running and hiding. Catch me if you can!
And what about your own work? What are the inspirations behind it? What would make someone else choose it to accompany them into exile?
I write a lot of rewritten fairy-tales, so it’d be fair to say that much of my inspirations springs from them. I’m also constantly inspired by relationship dynamics (not necessarily romantic) and I spend a lot of time on my characters. As to why people would choose my books to accompany them - well, books are so subjective! I’ve been told that my characters are a huge part of the appeal of my books, so I’ll plump for that.
You do have wonderful characters. I’m currently partway through reading another of your books, Masque, and I love the narrator SO MUCH :-) Anyway, 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?
Treasure Island and Kidnapped (I had a double-feature edition. Hah! Tricked you there!) I’d only just started reading for pleasure when I read those two. They were so exciting and adventurous, and yanno - pirates! and kidnapping! The older tone and language didn’t phase me - I loved the delightfully stately and elegant turn of phrase.
Gah, one book in and you’re already cheating! Still, if this double volume really existed, I can hardly argue :-)
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.
That’d be the Bible. I didn’t really start reading properly OR for pleasure until Mum and Dad started getting me to read verses aloud in our morning devotions. It’s basically how I learned to read. The Bible is the only living book I know: it seems to grow and multiply the more I read of it. I’ve read it through so many times now and I still get new things from it every time I read it. I wouldn’t say it brought me real-life romance, but it’s certainly been the biggest source of change in my life, and it’s definitely brought me to and through many adventures!
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.
Pride and Prejudice. I read it first when I was quite young, and I always felt a really close kinship with Lizzy. The more I read it, the more I love her, and the more I grow to appreciate her. Also, I LOVE Austen’s sly sense of humour. I’ve reread it so many times, and there are still portions that make me laugh out loud every time. And, of course, it’s so elegantly written!
Yes, wonderful writing and very funny! 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 …
Jean Craighead George’s My Side Of The Mountain. It’s about a boy who runs away and lives on a mountain by himself. It’s solitary, and adventurous, and quiet. He makes his own clothes, traps his own food, and trains a hawk of his own. It’s utterly delightful. I’ve just recently found out that there are another two books, and that it is in fact a trilogy! So I bought it, of course, and have been looking forward to reading them ALL! It’s a dream come true, since I’m always dreaming that my favourite books have sequels :-D
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.
Argh! That’s SO HARD, because I have more than one! In one hand I have Kate Stradling’s Goldenmayne (rewritten fairytale). In the other hand I have Antonia Forest’s The Marlows and the Traitor (A kid’s adventure that was SO MUCH MORE). Pick a hand! Any hand! I can’t choose!
Oh, fine, have them both. I’m nearly at the end of my own blog tour and I’m feeling generous :-) 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 …
Five *coff* yeah, that’s right, five!
For music, I’d take Radioactive (The Pentatonix Version); and for a movie, it’d have to be Twelfth Night (The Ben Kingsley/Imelda Staunton version). As to my other item: well, the Cornucopia, of course! (Don’t tell the Hubby, he thinks it’d be him!)
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.
Oho! That makes it easy! Pop it in the lake on top of the mountain that’s behind my place and the Hubby can just swim over! (I’m already on an island, so it’s doubly remote!)
See? Even when it comes to choosing an island, you can’t stop cheating ... but again, it’s hard to say no. You’re SNEAKY! :-D
Anyway, that’s it – you’re ready to go. Thank you for joining us, and enjoy your trip!
Thanks for having me!
About the book
‘If you want adventure, you have to march right up to it and kick it in the shins . . .’
At fourteen, barefoot and running wild, Rose is delighted to be apprenticed to Akiva, the witch of the forest. She thinks it will be all enchantment and excitement, and not so much fuss about baths. The reality is much more sober and practical - that is, until she meets a mysterious wolf in the forest and is tricked into stepping off the path . . .
In young, naive Rose, Bastian sees a way of escape. Cursed to remain in the shape of a wolf after running afoul of a powerful enchantress, he has lived many decades under a spell, and now he is both desperate and ruthless. But by breaking part of Bastian’s curse, Rose has caught the attention of Cassandra, the enchantress who cursed him: and Cassandra is by no means ready to forgive and forget.
Meanwhile, wardens have been disappearing from the forest, one by one. Rose is certain that Cassandra is behind the disappearances, but can she and Bastian get to the bottom of the matter before Akiva disappears as well? And are Bastian’s motives entirely to be trusted?
Sometimes the little girl in the red hood doesn’t get eaten, and sometimes the wolf isn’t the most frightening thing in the forest.
Buy Wolfskin from Amazon ~ iTunes ~ Kobo
About the author
W.R. Gingell is a Tasmanian author who lives in a house with a green door. She spends her time reading, drinking an inordinate amount of tea, and slouching in front of the fire to write. Like Peter Pan, she never really grew up, and is still occasionally to be found climbing trees.
Find her on her website or Goodreads, or sign up to her mailing list.