Saturday, May 18, 2013

Author Interview with Fleur Gaskin

We are lucky to get have the author of Arabelle's Shadows, Fleur Gaskin, on the blog today for an interview.

Hi Fleur, and thanks for taking the time to let us get to know you. 

Where were you born and where do you call home? Who shares home with you?

I was born in Wellington New Zealand. I lived in the same house for nineteen years. Then I left home and started travelling the world. I have four places that I would call home. New Zealand, obviously. No matter how long I stay away I will always be a Kiwi. Kuala Lumpur is another place I would call home, having lived there on and off for a few years. My fiancé is from Malaysia and I love it there. The food is delicious, the people are lovely, everyone speaks English. It’s just such an easy place to be. Thailand is also my home. When I was modeling Bangkok was my base. I always came back. Many of my best friends are either Thai or I met them in Thailand. What a beautiful culture, excellent food and so many smiling people. My final home is Shanghai where I now live with my fiancé and my two cats.

Who or what inspired you to become a writer?

As a very small child I planned on becoming a writer. We were always surrounded by books in my house and I greedily gobbled them up. But I also had plans to be a vet and a famous actress and I forgot about writing for a while. Then in 2002, I was modelling in Paris when I read Wuthering Heights. The book resonated with me and I thought, I want to tell stories like that, I want to make others feel all the emotions I had just felt and instantly the plots of two novels popped into my head.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

The book that made the biggest impact on my life was The Power of One by Bryce Courtney. I read it when I was twelve. It really opened my eyes to injustices in the world. It was an emotional read for me. Peekay’s struggles and the way he kept going despite all his set backs really inspired me. I haven’t read it for maybe 15 years, I would love to read it again soon, to see what I think of it as an adult.

What led you to write this book?

As a teenager I suffered from depression. It was unimaginably horrible. I suffered to a point that was past unbearable. But I kept going, I kept fighting, kept trying to get better. In the end I survived. I wrote Arabelle’s Shadows to try and show other sufferers of depression – or anxiety, eating disorders, addiction – that you can beat it. I also wanted people who do not suffer from depression to have a chance to step inside the mind of their loved ones and hopefully understand what they are going through.

Why did you choose this specific title and cover?

Arabelle’s Shadows was the obvious choice for the title. The Shadows are those dark thoughts in your mind telling you that you’re not good enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, that you’re unlovable. Through out the novel Arabelle has to battle her own vile Shadows. To beat them she has to learn that they don’t tell the truth, she has to start really believing in herself. 
I believe the cover demonstrates essence of the book very well. Arabelle is a model presenting a confident, beautiful girl to the world, but her Shadows are never far away.

What books have influenced your writing?

I find it interesting to know what environment people write in. Do they use a pen and paper, laptop? Quiet room, music or what? Dog at their feet? Cat on the desk? Just whatever makes it comfortable to be productive.

I always have music playing, that is the one constant. I work on a laptop, it’s easier to rearrange, add or delete my paragraphs. Also when I get inspired my handwriting becomes such a mess even I can’t always read it. I like to write in a café where I can leave my stuff without worrying about it getting stolen and go to the bathroom. I have the perfect place in Shanghai. I ride my bike there, buy a drink or a snack and then settle in for the day. If I write at home I like my cats to be nearby…but I don’t know if they appreciate me very much. Whenever I get stuck or I need a break I disturb them from their 9 – 5 job of sleeping.

Is there a particular movie that you preferred over the book version?
The Notebook. I loved that movie, it was so beautiful, I cried so much. I read the book a few years later and I could barely finish it. Nicholas Sparks is very good at creating plots but his writing style is a little too obvious for me. It really rubbed me the wrong way.

Your thoughts on receiving book reviews - the good and the bad –

Good reviews are amazing! To hear someone say that the understood what you were trying to say. People have said that they loved my book and it’s such a great feeling. It gives me confidence to keep going, to want to keep creating. Creating something from your heart puts you in a very vulnerable position. An insult about your work can feel like an attack against you as a person. I understand that Arabelle’s Shadows is a book that will resonate with some people and will drive others crazy. That’s true with any book. There are many best sellers that others absolutely loved and I couldn’t stand. I am prepared for the bad reviews…I just hope I don’t get too many.

Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:

Arabelle’s Shadows is based on my life. So some parts are completely true and other parts have been adapted. I really did get run over by a car in Brussels. The car did run over my foot and I swear I did not have a single scratch or bruise anywhere on my body!

I love learning insight into authors and their books. Thanks for sharing Fleur!

 Fleur Gaskin is from New Zealand. She was an international model for six years, working in over ten countries, mainly in Asia and Europe. She has been in TV commercials, walked on runways and done many print jobs including Elle, Marie Claire and Vogue magazines. She presently lives in Shanghai, China with her fiancé.

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