Welcome to my stop on Elaine Gunn’s The Silver Moon Storybook blog tour!
Many thanks to Kelly @ Love Books Group Tours for arranging the following interview with Elaine Gunn…..
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
Yikes, where do I start? Ok, I am a mum of three boys; I live just outside Edinburgh and am married to a hero called Angus. I’m trained in reiki and Dr. Hauschka therapy and run my holistic therapy business Something Lovely alongside my writing. The Silver Moon Storybook is my first published work; it’s a collection of seven original fairy tales with a feminist slant.
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
I get most of my ideas from online media, I totally subscribe to that Facebook meme that goes about from time to time, which says “so it turns out that being an adult is basically just googling how to do stuff” – I get so much of my information on the internet! For example, my story The Strong Man was inspired by a brilliant TED talk given by the actor Justin Baldoni, where he talked about reframing our understanding of what masculine strength should be. It turned up in my Facebook timeline, and the next thing I knew I had come up with Dr. Cornelius’ Travelling Circus and its struggle with toxic masculinity.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
I didn’t set out to write about anybody in particular, but I suppose it’s inevitable that what is basically a download of your subconscious onto the page will reflect your own perception of reality to an extent. I suspect there’s more of me in each character than there is of anybody else. The character of the king in The Weaver did come from a very bizarre dream where Henry VIII saved me from a giant spider though. I’ve read a good bit of Phillipa Gregory in my time, and I’m guessing Henry VIII is about as accurate a symbol of the patriarchy as I can imagine.
How do you pick your characters’ names?
They don’t really have proper names – I am horrible at naming characters! I overthink it and try too hard to be clever with symbolism and double meanings, which I think ends up feeling contrived. By keeping it simple and letting the characters’ identities dictate what I called them in Silver Moon, I felt much freer to let them take me through the story themselves.
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
I just sit down and write. Usually I start with a theme I want to explore, then I come up with a core character whose experience is going to be central to the story. Once I have that, I just go with it and see what happens – some of my stories have ended up completely different from what I initially expected. My characters seem to have lives of their own!
Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
This is a hard one – I love books and when I get the time to read (see above, re 3 kids and 2 careers…) I read loads of different authors, it’s difficult to pick favourites. I do really love Jane Austen, and I’ve had a lot of Stephen King on my bookshelves over the years. Georgette Heyer is a bit of a guilty pleasure, I often turn to her if I’m needing some happy fluff to cheer me up, and Neil Gaiman is a great one too. Oh! Hans Christian Andersen – I know I’m a grown woman now, but his fairy tales will always feel a bit special to me.
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
It would have to be George Orwell; I read 1984 in my early twenties and it’s the only book I haven’t been brave enough to go back to learn more from as an older reader – I had a proper hyperventilating panic attack at the end of it. I’d ask him about the parallels I see in today’s society, and try to get a sense from him of how close to dystopia we actually are. Although I would probably need quite a lot of gin to attempt that conversation…
Were you a big reader as a child?
Yes. I was very introverted and had pretty low self-esteem. I retreated into books a lot – it was easier for me to immerse myself in imaginary worlds than to deal with the real one. I was a total bookworm and really into fantasy, fairy-tales and science fiction.
When did you start to write?
I remember writing my first story in Primary 2 (I would have been 5 or 6 at the time), then I started keeping journals when I was about 10 or 11. I’ve been writing on and off since then, but never had the confidence to attempt anything for publication. It’s amazing how much writing experience you can gather in the world of work though; I have had to learn to adjust my style for reports, plans, terrible marketing campaigns etc, all of which have taught me how to be really tight and precise with my language.
If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
I would keep Mr Quincey P Jones alive at the end of Dracula – I always thought it was mean to kill him off, he was by far the warmest character in the book and deserved a happy ending. I was never very convinced of the whole “moral and racial superiority of Englishmen means they get to live” thing that Bram Stoker often got up to.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
That would be a toss-up between two books. On one hand I have direct experience now of how amazing it is to have written a book that inspires children (one of my son’s wee pals has named her new gerbil Silvermoon) to think it would be great to have written Harry Potter. But also, I would like to have written Monty Hall’s Great Escape, because that would mean I’d have spent 6 months living like a hermit on the Applecross peninsula in Wester Ross, which is absolutely on my bucket list.
If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?
It took me about 6 months to come up with a title for Silver Moon; I nearly ended up having a workshop with some of my pals, I was absolutely stumped. I have no chance with this question! “Elaine, the Indecisive” or something…
If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
Erm… I’m not going to lie, it would totally be Jamie Fraser from Outlander. Somewhere deserted in the Scottish Highlands. I’ll bring a flask and a blanket.
What are you working on right now?
I’m busy marketing The Silver Moon Storybook and working on getting some of Megan MacPhie’s wonderful illustrations up on my website for readers to download and colour in. I am also keeping my radar up for inspiration for more fairy tales, but I’m in no huge rush. Writing and self-publishing a book was quite an intense experience for me, and I’m trying to nurture myself in the aftermath.
Tell us about your last release?
I released The Silver Moon Storybook in December 2018; I self-published as I had quite set views on how the book should look and feel, and I wanted to have total control over the creative side of things. The concept of feminist fairy tales was born out of my total frustration with some of the rubbish my kids were reading and watching on telly, and my disappointment with how a lot of female characters are portrayed in mainstream media these days. I wanted to write something that would examine gender roles in a way that would be accessible to children and perhaps their parents too. Fairy tales felt like a nice way to do this; apart from my own fascination with the worlds of dreams and fantasy, they open you up for all sorts of lovely metaphors, which I really enjoyed playing with.
Do you have a new release due?
Not yet; maybe in a few years. I want to focus on my first book baby for a good while first.
What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?
I’ve only had one so far, but there was definitely a G&T involved! I was very nervous and felt quite overwhelmed, so spent quite a lot of time staring in disbelief at the stack of 2000 odd books in my garage. Next time I will try to come up with something a bit more interesting.
How can readers keep in touch with you?
I’m on Twitter at @Elaine_Gunn and my business page is on Facebook @somethinglovelydotscot. I also blog about writing, holistic therapy and feminism at http://somethinglovely.scot.
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
I don’t think so. 🙂
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Elaine 🙂
The Silver Moon Storybook is Elaine’s first published work, a collection of modern fairy tales that weaves contemporary, progressive values and messages into seven magical stories.
What darkness lies in the past of a little witch, cursed into the shape of a giant?
As the silver moon rises, who will save a magical unicorn, imprisoned in the castle of a tyrant, or befriend an enormous clown who roams the world alone? Can a humble weaver find the courage to face a terrible monster? And what will be the fate of a powerful mermaid, at war with the world above her ocean? Join them and other enchanting characters in these haunting tales of illusion, discovery and love.
An exquisitely illustrated bedtime story for young readers (and perhaps some not so young), The Silver Moon Storybook weaves progressive and modern themes into touching fables full of the magic and shadows of traditional fairy tales.
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happy reading 🙂