Welcome to my stop on Holly Bidgood’s The Seagull’s Laughter blog tour, with Kelly @ Love Books Tours!
Many thanks to Kelly @ Love Books Tours for arranging the following interview with Holly Bidgood…..
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
My name is Holly. I am the author of two novels – The Eagle and The Oystercatcher (Published 2016 by Wildpressed Books) and The Seagull’s laughter (due to be published in November 2019). The Eagle and The Oystercatcher is a literary coming-of-age novel set in the Faroe Islands during the Second World War, when the islands were occupied by the British army; while The Seagull’s Laughter takes its inspiration from further north, following the generally dark path of Greenlandic folktales and recent Greenlandic social history.
I currently live in Hull with my husband and three very small children. By day I run a therapeutic weaving studio, working mostly with vulnerable adults, and struggle with vast amounts of laundry.
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
The idea of “North” forms the basis of most of my writing. I have always drawn my inspiration and ideas from wild northern landscapes – places such as Iceland, Shetland, Faroe Islands and Greenland. I feel such a strong pull towards the traditional edge-of-existence ways of life in these environments, and the stories and folk tales that have grown out of this sense of place. I studied modern Icelandic and Old Norse at University College London, so I suppose it all ties together in my writing.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
I don’t consciously base characters on people I know, but I’m sure there must be elements of certain people in there somewhere. I tend to write for escapism, so I feel that my writing is quite removed from my everyday life.
How do you pick your characters’ names?
I really don’t know how I pick my characters’ names! They just come to me, I suppose, as the character takes shape in my head. Later on I may realise that a character has (entirely coincidentally) the same name as a friend or family member, then I worry that they might think the character is based on them!
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
My writing process generally consists of committing very few words to the page in one sitting, and agonising over every sentence. Although I feel driven to write, the process of extracting it all coherently from my head is utterly exhausting and quite laborious. But I enjoy being able to return to that same landscape in my head where the story unfolds.
Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
It’s been so long since I actually managed to sit down and read a book, I can barely remember! Off the top of my head: Kurt Vonnegut, Charlotte Bronte, Aldous Huxley, Daphne Du Maurier and Terry Pratchett (quite a mix!).
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
I think I would most like to meet Terry Pratchett and ask him how he managed to extract the Discworld from inside his head and write it all down in so many interlinked novels. He has a fantastic imagination and a great sense of humour in his writing.
Were you a big reader as a child?
Yes, I don’t think I did much else! I remember reading the same books a few times, if I really liked them – I think I read The Lord of The Rings trilogy about three or four times before I was a teenager.
When did you start to write?
As soon as I was able to, from the age of about six. My parents still have folders full of my various poems and short stories that I wrote as a child. I didn’t write much as a teenager, I was too critical of anything that I tried to put down on the page.
If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
Is there a book you wish you had written?
I remember being really upset by the ending of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. It is one of those books that I read in one sitting, cover to cover, and have never forgotten. But although the ending is so distressing, it really couldn’t be any other way. I’m sure I read somewhere afterwards that Aldous Huxley had considered – or perhaps even planned – a different ending: one in which John the savage would find a new life somewhere else. But of course, that wouldn’t have been nearly as poignant.
I sort of wish I had written the How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell! I love the characters, her imagination and her humour, and the magic of the world she creates. And I love dragons.
(I LOVE How To Train Your Dragon!)
If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?
“I woke up this tired”
If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
I would probably invite the main protagonist (who remains nameless) from Naïve Super by Erlend Loe. We would go somewhere wild and spacious, somewhere by the sea, where we could both get some peace from the chaos of modern life and talk about how overwhelmed and confused we feel about the universe and life in general. And maybe just sit in silence for a bit. I think we would get on quite well. My Norwegian is a bit rusty, though.
What are you working on right now?
I have a couple of ideas for new novels, but as yet these ideas exist only in my head. I don’t get any time to write at the moment. Life is currently too busy, the children are too young and my brain is too overworked; I hope things settle down sometime soon, I would really like to get back into writing.
Tell us about your last release?
My last release was my first release. It is a literary novel entitled The Eagle and The Oystercatcher, and it follows the story of Kjartan, who is eighteen at the time the Second World War breaks out and the British army occupies the Faroe Islands – his home. This was a time of huge social and economic change for the Faroe Islands, coupled in the narrative with Kjartan’s “coming of age” and the struggles he has surrounding his feelings for his best friend, and his anxiety about the war. The narrative is steady and atmospheric – it rains a lot.
Do you have a new release due?
Yes: The Seagull’s Laughter will be released in November this year. It follows the stories of Malik, a young Greenlander who is guided by an ancestral spirit only he can see; his father, Rasmus, an English explorer who he never even got the chance the meet; and Martha, a young woman fleeing domestic violence, whose path crosses Malik’s on his lonely travels. The narrative is inspired by Greenlandic folktales – which as a rule seem to be fairly dark and often morbid – and driven, as per usual in my writing, by the longing for wild, far-flung places and the search for Home.
How can readers keep in touch with you?
The best way is to follow Wildpressed Books on Facebook and Twitter and any other social media. If you are in Hull, you can keep an eye out for any writers’ events organised by Phil and Tracey of Wildpressed!
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
By day I help to run Life and Loom, a social and therapeutic weaving studio in Hull. We are just getting started and need all the support we can muster. You can look us up on Facebook!
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Holly 🙂
happy reading 🙂