Monday, June 24, 2013

Interview with Fleur Gaskin, Author of Arabelle's Shadows!

Interview with Fleur Gaskin!
Interviewer: Hannah

Hey! Hannah is back with that author interview she promised--this time with author Fleur Gaskin! Fleur just released her debut novel Arabelle's Shadows last year, and we've partnered up to do an interview, review, and giveaway!

The Arabelle's Shadows giveaway is still ongoing, but only for three more days, so you'd better hurry if you'd like to enter for the chance to win one of three copies!  Get 'em while they're nice and fresh!:D

In the meantime, it's interview taiiime!

1. Tell us a little about yourself, Fleur.

I grew up in Wellington, New Zealand. I began studying philosophy and psychology at university, but a year in I was feeling trapped so when I got the opportunity to model I jumped at the chance. I was fortunate enough to travel all over the world as a model. I never made a lot of money, but I have books full of beautiful photos and a plethora of life experience. 

After 6 years of modelling I moved to China with my boyfriend (who is now my fiancé.) These days we live in Shanghai with our 2 cats and my own vile Shadows are very much under control.

2. What inspired you to write Arabelle's Shadows?

In the beginning I wanted to show the world what modelling is really like for an average model. There is a lot of injustice in the industry and the models are often taken advantage of in one way or the other. I also had a lot of fun stories to tell.

Then as I started to write Arabelle's Shadows I found that modelling wasn't the story I needed to tell. I wanted to express the journey of depression. How it begins, how depression slowly takes over your mind. What it's like when depression takes complete control and the fact that, if you've been depressed for a long time, those negative thought patterns never really go away. I am hoping that people who read Arabelle's Shadows will come away with more understanding about what depression is, and of it's effects.

3. You were also international model, just like your protagonist Arabelle. Does this, in a way, make your novel semi-autobiographical? 

Yes, Arabelle's Shadows is semi-autobiographical. I wanted to tell the truth. For me the truth is so much more powerful, more fascinating. But this story involves more people than just me and I wanted all the other characters to be unidentifiable. Making Arabelle's Shadows fiction also gave me the freedom to express the emotions of the events without having to worry about times, dates, and minor details. 

4. What gave you the idea to use the Shadows to personify Arabelle's fears?

When I was depressed I always felt like I was at war with my depression. Though my thoughts were very powerful and incredibly painful, a tiny piece of my soul knew that those thoughts weren't true. That's how you can survive depression, by separating yourself from the thoughts, from the disease. It's much easier to fight something you can put a name on, something you can picture. I wish that I'd thought of the Shadows when I was depressed. Then I would've been separate from my thoughts and I could've blamed them, I could've said to my mum, "The Shadows say that I'm a horrible person and that I should hurt myself." Instead I kept all those thoughts inside because I was ashamed of what I was thinking. 

5. Arabelle's Shadows it your debut novel; do you plan on writing more in the future?

Yes I have a new novel that I'm working on at the moment? It is still in the formative stages, as in it's still being created in my head. I'm getting marries at the end of July so I'm hoping that in August I'll have time to actually start writing something down. I'm excited about this book. It's going to be different from Arabelle's Shadows and hopefully much easier to write!

6. What do you do in your down time?

I like being at home with my cats. I cook dinner and I love baking. I like riding my bike around Shanghai. But most of my down time is spent pondering people and trying to understand why they do what they do.

7. Do you have a favorite book or author?

My favorite books have to be the Harry Potter series. I wish I could say something more original, I certainly do read a wide variety of books, but Harry Potter is my favourite. I love the way when you are reading them you leave your own reality and step into Harry's world. You can see the magical creatures, hear the mermaids singing, taste the butterbeer. I also love the theme of good vs evil and that each character has strengths and flaws.

8. Excellent choice! How 'bout a favorite TV show?

The West Wing. The writing is brilliant. You have to pay attention to be able to understand everything that's going on. I learned so much about how government works. It also gives me hope that there are some people in places of power who are working hard to make the world a better place.

9. When did you start writing?

I always wanted to write books. When I was 12 I decided that I'd become the world's youngest novelist. I never ended up writing that book and then I forgot about writing for a time, though I started writing a diary. I was inspired to start writing novels when I was a 22-year-old model living in Paris. I'd just finished reading Wuthering Heights and it suddenly came to me that I could also write stories that evoke emotions in other people.

10. What would you say was your favorite thing about writing Arabelle's Shadows?

Finishing it! I was a very difficult novel to write because it was based on my life. Thinking about my darkest days over and over against was not pleasant. 

11. True dat. A lot of authors have certain times or places they like to write. Do you have any yourself?

I go to a café called Wagas. It has everything I need. It has good food and drinks, you can't smoke there, comfortable chairs, Wi-Fi and it's not too noisy. Most importantly, it's safe enough for me to leave my stuff on the table and go to the toilet. Sometimes I stay at home to write, but I'm much more likely to procrastinate if I'm at home.

12. Do you ever get writer's block? If so, do you have any special tricks to get past it?

Yes I get writer's block. It used to really bother me. I thought I was being lazy, procrastinating for hours. Now I understand that it just means that I need to take a break and let my subconscious work through whatever problems I'm having. When the time is right the solution will simply appear and then you can move on.

13. What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Keep writing and writing, then edit and edit some more. Ask for feedback from anyone who is willing to read your work but don't be disappointed if they don't instantly love it. Take their negative criticisms and use them to improve your writing and make it even better.

14. Anything you'd like to say to your readers?

I really was a fighting elf in the Lord of the Rings movies. You can't see me though, I was one of the shortish elvish extras so I generally played dead.

Why, I dare say, what an excellent note to end this lovely interview on! How can you go wrong with Lord of the Rings? Thank you so much for the interview, Fleur, and congratulations on your marriage next month!

I recently finished Arabelle's Shadows, and I'll be posting my review in due time (couple days, tops), so watch out for it! Again, if you'd like to enter the giveaway, click on THIS LINK. June 27 is the last day to enter!

If you happen to miss the date, or you don't win, don't worry--Arabelle's Shadows is still available on various online shopping sites, including Amazon. If you're interested, drop a comment and I can send you some links about where to purchase a copy of Arabelle's Shadows.

G'day, mates! 'Til next time!:D

-Hannah

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