I recently had the pleasure of exchanging emails with Giselle Simlett, the author of one of my favorite self published books of 2015, Girl of Myth and Legend. From the small amount of interaction I've had with her, I can say that Giselle is a delight to talk to. Like her main character, Leonie, Giselle is down to earth and totally relatable.
Giselle kindly agreed to answer a few of my questions...
When did Leonie and her story first come to you?
Who is your favorite character in the book and why?I loved the idea of a magical world, filled with horrors and beauty, but the story didn't really happen until Leonie came bulldozing into my head. 'Finally!' she said. 'Are you going to write my story?' It really is her story and I'm just trying to keep up!
Would you like to go to Duwyn like Leonie, or are you happy here on earth?How am I supposed to answer that? Hmm. I love all the characters, ones you've met and once you have yet to meet. I even love the bad guys. In Girl of Myth and Legend, I'd have to say Leonie is my favourite character. Leonie is a character that's hard to chew. She is a typical teenager, very sarcastic and lippy, and she's also very unsure of herself. What I like about her is that she's supposed to be this powerful Chosen cliche, but she sort of fails at it. She's got a lot to learn! I didn't want a character who was powerful, certain of herself, and strong and courageous, because I want Leonie to grow with each book. She can be a coward, and she's really out of her depth in this new world she finds herself in. Despite this, she does try her best to make it work. My favourite thing about Leonie is her kind nature. She has this beautiful way of seeing things that really inspires others - especially Korren - and she's very hopeful and optimistic despite the past that haunts her. She's not a perfect character, but in time, she'll grow, and I can't wait to write as her character develops and she becomes stronger, braver and more powerful.
Which part of the story was the most difficult to write? Did you ever get writers block?While I'd love to travel the world (Earth, after all, has so many beautiful wonders), I'd like to see Duwyn, too. I mean, who wouldn't want to visit a world of myth and magic? The only thing is, I'd be terrified at night! Night in Duwyn is when all the evils of the world reign, and even powerful Chosen would struggle to survive. I can't even light a match properly let alone survive against dark entities!
The correlation between chosen and kytaen rings of some of the prejudice and bigotry present in our own world, is this something you feel strongly about?The most difficult part was probably 'the haze' part of the book. It's very hard to write about pure despair when you haven't felt it yourself. The only way I could handle writing these scenes was by clinging on to Leonie who is, in essence, just a normal person like you or me. I tried to imagine what I'd be like if I was thrust into this hellish world where everything was trying to kill me. Um, yeah, I would struggle to cope. Leonie is a lot stronger than me, I tell you. While she was terrified, she also borrowed strength from Korren and Jacob.I get writer's block a lot, but I certainly got it during these scenes. I had to listen to a lot of scary music and even play scary games to get in the mood to write these scenes!
Which Authors have inspired you the most?It certainly is, though a reader doesn't necessarily have to parallel the world of the Chosen's to our own. In my mind, I saw the kytaen as slaves, tools - but only because the Chosen made it so. In our history, and even in our present, there is also evidence of this. It's very difficult for me to ever put myself in the position of those who suffered under prejudice and bigotry, and so I had to research a lot about slavery from the point of view of former slaves. It's quite a depressing subject, but I didn't want to shy away from it. I think that's why Korren can come across as very angry and at times bitter - because I myself felt angered about what these people had gone through.
What is your all time favorite book?So many! I really liked Phillip Pullman's style of writing, but I honestly couldn't pick a favourite. I love lyrical language and sometimes it's really hard to find an author who makes a book almost like a poem, or even a song.
E-books or physical books?Oh my. Hmm. *Looks at one of my bookcases* Uh. OK... Hmm ... So, I really liked His Dark Materials, Song of Achilles, The Inheritance Cycle, arghhh so many ... can't ... think...!
Can you tell me anything about what's in store for Leonie and Korren?For me, I love to hold a copy of the book. There's nothing better than flicking through the pages of a good book. I do like e-books, and have bought my fair share, but I never get as immersed in the story the same way I do with a physical book.
Leonie has a lot of growing up to do, and in the next book she certainly does! As for Korren, he has a very hard choice to make, one that could very well set him up against his keeper...
It was a pleasure doing this interview with you and I hope we can talk more in the future!
You can follow Giselle on Facebook, Twitter, and on her Blog.