As a child, what made you decide to write books?
I had a very strange childhood. We never actually reached the poverty level—and my dad was too proud to accept welfare of any kind. Which meant that we often had no electricity. So we had no television, but I needed stories like I needed food or water. I have known since I was six that I had to be a writer.
One advantage that I had was that while I was small, my dad told stories- great novel length adventures, invented on the spot. He’d spin them out of nothingness for days or weeks on end. I will always remember listening to freshly minted space sagas under the desert stars.
But before I was a teenager, my dad developed a brain tumor. I had to spin my own stories after that.
What was the inspirations behind this series?
I was remembering a goblin that crept out of the dark and slipped her paw into my hand. It happened when I was just ten. The creature’s name was Lina, and she crept out of a book by George MacDonald. This is how it happened:
Curdie, the hero of the story, could feel the real hand of any creature inside its flesh glove. Lina was a dog–like creature with green eyes lit by amber fire, and a huge mouth with icicle–like teeth. But when she put her paw in Curdie’s hand: “a shudder, as of terrified delight, ran through him…instead of the paw of a dog, such as it seemed to his eyes, he clasped in his great mining fist the soft, neat little hand of a child! The green eyes stared at him with their yellow light, and the mouth was turned up toward him with its constant half grin; but here was the child’s hand!”
When I read those lines I felt it. I felt the child’s hand, and I knew I wanted to pull a child out of a goblin one day.
With all the folklore in the books, what kind of research did you have to do to prepare?
The story needed two detailed physical locations. I traveled to the National Zoo in Washington DC and several arboretums to get good ideas for the plants, trees and strange creatures of Mag Mell. The neighborhood Teagan lives in came from one of my trips to Chicago.
It also needed an emotional landscape: ancient Celtic roots and sensibilities.
The Celts built no walls between the natural world and the supernatural, the secular and the sacred. The Green Man peeks out of carvings in Celtic churches right alongside the saints and Apostles.
Their concept of family, clan and even heroism was very different from that presented in most Western stories – whether they be movies or books—today.
That is the worldview I immerse myself in while I am writing. It makes the books different from many that are published today. For instance, the Celts believed that we are meant to journey in companionship and in community. Everyone needs at least one ‘anam cara’—soul friend—to stand beside them. Your ‘anam cara’ can be family, or not family--and more than one is better.
In The Goblin Wars books, Teagan’s family and friends her—‘anam cara’-- function as an eccentric and very dedicated tribe.
Thank you for having me on your blog, Zia!
Okay the giveaway specifics:
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Contest will run until October 18, 2011 at 11:59 pm. I will announce and email the winner within a couple of days. Once the book is released, Kersten will order and have it sent directly to your house.