Category: Interviews

These are interviews with fantastic authors. My focus is on those who write fantasy, magic realism, reworked fairy tales, mythic stories and anything that has an element of the fantastical. Story telling is so important to what makes us human, to encouraging empathy and to helping us find our place in the world. Wonderful story tellers who have inspired me develop my skills as a writer include Diana Wynne Jones, Ursula Le Guin, Susan Cooper, Ray Bradbury, Isobelle Carmody, Sophie Masson, CS Lewis, JK Rowling and many more. Stories that I love transport me to another time, another place or to chance encounters with events and people that I would never meet in the real world. As adults some people become afraid of such stories – I like to think that is because of the power they wield! If you would like to be interviewed, use the contact form to get in touch.

An Interview with Laura E. Goodin

An Interview with Laura E. Goodin

Author, humorist and bellringer, Laura E. Goodin

Today on my blog I have an interview with writer, academic and bellringer Laura E. Goodin. Laura’s exciting adventure fantasies, Mud and Glass and After the Bloodwood Staff, are published by Odyssey Books. Laura’s madcap take on academia, Mud and Glass, has been compared to the writing of Jasper Fforde, and with good reason. As an escapee from the Academy myself, I laughed out loud many times at the hilarity and madcap craziness. But as you will see from Laura’s answers below, her unique, humorous take on the world is only one of her many talents – her answers are deeply moving and insightful.

Which writer or writers opened your eyes to the magic of storytelling and why?

I learned to read unusually early, so I don’t really remember a particular revelatory moment in that regard.  My first reading obsession, though, was the Chronicles of Narnia.  From 50 years away I can see their flaws (racism, sexism, classism, theological approaches that create more problems than they solve), but at the time they were my gateway into a world where children were capable and strong, and magic and wonder were everywhere, and where I could imagine myself with the kind of daring and skills that I in no way had in real life.  I didn’t use the books for escape; quite the contrary:  I used them as a model for becoming someone better, more capable, more reliable, more courageous in the real world.  Granted, I wasn’t the happiest little misfit in the world, and stories of all kinds did provide a refuge for me.  But they also showed this little misfit the possibilities of the human spirit.  I saw ways my idiosyncrasies could be strengths, and I became determined to make the most of the person I was and am, rather than trying to be someone who always knows the right thing to wear to a party.  (I never really know the right thing to wear to a party.  Or anywhere else, for that matter.  It’s just my best guess.  So if I show up at your house dressed in completely the wrong manner for the occasion, you’ll know it’s because instead of studiously acquiring the rules for attire, I’ve spent my time learning karate and bellringing and fencing, riding horses, cooking elaborate meals, and teaching cool stuff to my students.)

Why do you think people need stories in their lives?

There are as many reasons for that as there are people.  Me, I need stories for inspiration and refuge, entertainment and education.  I need them because they urge me to fling myself at the world in a great big exuberant embrace, to grapple with it and comfort it and challenge it and heal it.  Stories show me truths and help me see what to strive for.  They strengthen my soul and increase my capacity for joy and compassion.  They help me see the miracles and wonders that await around every corner.  They make me more, they make me better, they make me my truest self.

What is your greatest magical power as a writer?

Hm.  Do you mean, “What am I best at as a writer?”  That might be dialogue.  Mine seems to be very easy for the reader to hear as natural speech and get immersed in.  I pay a lot of attention to the sounds and rhythms of the words themselves, and I’m a maniac for cutting extraneous words and syllables out; that could have something to do with it.  Do you mean, “How do I most effectively capture the attention – indeed, the awareness – of my readers?”  I like to think it’s a combination of quirky yet plausible characters, situations of mayhem with always the possibility of a belly laugh somewhere along the way, and SCRUPULOUS – I repeat, SCRUPULOUS – attention to spelling, grammar, and punctuation.  This last may be the most important, because well-punctuated, well-spelled words arranged in brilliantly clear ways let the reader relax:  they say, “You’re in the hands of an expert, precious reader.  You won’t have to stop to cringe at a rookie grammar error or scowl as you try to figure out how to resolve an ambiguity.  So breathe, begin, and instantly forget you’re reading.”  When readers can lose themselves into a story like that, that’s magic.  The magic of grammar, my friends.  It gives you power over your readers’ very minds.  But you must use your powers for good, never for evil.  Promise me!

Which mythic archetype or magical character most resonates with you and why?

I’m finding this incredibly hard to answer.  I think the character I most identify with is Cat Chant from Diana Wynne Jones’s Charmed Life.  Like Cat, I tend to be hesitant about inconveniencing others, and I spent the early part of my life profoundly unaware, for the most part, of my own powers.  Like Cat, I got the shock of my life when I started to realise just how powerful I am.  That’s one thing middle age is absolutely great for:  you begin to get a sense that you can handle what gets thrown at you, because at some point you’ve already handled some pretty horrible stuff.  You become aware of your powers.  There’s a reason older women have historically been objects of fear and persecution:  we are becoming aware of our powers, and, even more terrifying, we’re using them on purpose!  It doesn’t seem to matter that most of us use them to help and heal and drive positive change.  We’re masterless and wild, and we might inflict some serious damage.  Maybe that’s the archetype I now identify with:  wild, raving woman of wisdom and vision and might.  (But whenever I reread Charmed Life, I’m back to being Cat.)

What themes or ideas do you find keep arising in your writing?

I keep seeing two main ideas in my writing (and that includes not only my novels, but my plays, poetry, libretti, and short fiction).  First, the world is vastly more than we can see in our daily lives:  there are hidden meanings and miraculous coincidences and flashes of mystery and power that we sense but cannot often see.  Second, in such a world, how can we be anything other than heroic?  How can we turn our backs on our own beautiful, mighty selves to be just ordinary, when the world cries out to us?  My characters tend to find that whole new layers of meaning and challenge lie behind what they thought was reality, and that this means they’re going to have to be something more than they thought they could ever become.  The world is full of wardrobes.  (A friend in America had a wardrobe; they’re rare there, because most American houses have closets.  “Wow,” I said when I saw it.  “Does that lead to Narnia?”  She said, “I wish it did.  I could use the room.”)

An Interview with Sophie Masson

An Interview with Sophie Masson

I’m very excited that today’s post is an interview with prolific award-winning author and publisher, Sophie Masson. I plan to do one interview a month with an author that I believe brings magic into the world with their writing. I can think of no better place to begin than with Sophie, who has a fascination with fairytales and myths and has written many truly magical books. Her stories have enchanted readers of all ages across a range of genres. She will be appearing at the Historical Novel Society of Australasia Conference this weekend, for which she is the conference patron. This will be an exciting weekend of workshops, talks and panels focused on historical fiction (I’ll do a wrap up of the conference next week.) Sophie’s generous endorsement of Harlequin’s Riddle has encouraged readers to pick up my book, for which I am enormously grateful.

You can find out more about Sophie in her own words on her website and blog or on Facebook or Twitter.

About Sophie

Born in Indonesia to French parents and brought up in Australia and France, Sophie Masson is the award-winning, internationally-published author of over 60 books, for children, young adults and adults. Her latest books include the YA historical thriller, Jack of Spades, two picture books, Two Rainbows, illustrated by Michael McMahon, and Once Upon An ABC, illustrated by Christopher Nielsen, and the adult paranormal thriller duology, Trinity: The Koldun Code and Trinity: The False Prince, set in modern Russia.

Which writer or writers opened your eyes to the magic of storytelling and why?

Glad you asked for writers in the plural 😊 So many of these opened my eyes to storytelling magic when I was a child: the great tellers of fairy tales, for instance, Grimm, Perrault, Andersen, Madame Leprince de Beaumont(of Beauty and the Beast fame), the anonymous tellers of the Arabian nights…And then, writers ranging from CS Lewis to Tove Jannsson, Nicholas Stuart Gray to Jules Verne, Alexandre Dumas to the Countess de Segur, Herge(of Tintin fame!) and Goscinny and Uderzo(of Asterix fame!); Alan Garner, Paul Berna, Enid Blyton, Patricia Wrightson..and many many many more! On my blog I’ve written about five of my favourite childhood books—the list is huge but I just selected these five and wrote about why I loved them: in all of them, storytelling is a huge ingredient, as is magic and adventure.

Why do you think people need stories in their lives?

Because otherwise they wither inside…I think it’s an essential factor in making us human. Without stories, not only is it hard to make sense of the world, but also of ourselves. It really annoys me when people say things like, ‘Oh, that’s just a story!’ There is no just a story. Of course not all stories are equal and some can be used to bad ends as well—but they are powerful things, never to be underestimated.

What is your greatest magical power as a writer?

Being able somehow to make creatures of paper and ink feel like creatures of flesh and blood: to make strong, vivid characters in a believable world, even when it’s fantasy…I feel so absolutely lucky that I was given this gift…so grateful I can do what I was born to do and help to weave my little corner of the world’s stories.

Which mythic archetype or magical character most resonates with you and why?

I am fascinated by shapeshifters… I am also really interested in ‘halflings’—changelings, people in between worlds, who sometimes don’t fit in and sometimes do—This fascination could have something to do with the fact that as a child growing up in two worlds—a French speaking one at home and an English speaking one at school—I felt a bit like a changeling or a shapeshifter I guess 😊

What themes or ideas do you find keep arising in your writing?

Love, betrayal, courage, friendship, creativity…and dangerous choices. Always dangerous choices!