Monday, August 27, 2012

Author Spotlight - Zoe Brooks





 We are extremely excited to have received an interview with Zoe. Erin and I read Girl in the Glass recently, and absolutely loved this story. Erin wanted to give it 6 stars! And I don't blame her. It was beautifully written, and one of the best stories we have read this year.

Zoe has also very kindly given us the opportunity to host a GIVEAWAY for all our readers, present and future to win one of three copies of Girl in the Glass through Smashwords, in epub, mobi or pdf formats.

Please check out our reviews of Girl in the Glass:



Without further delay, on to the interview!




      What brought you to writing? Did you always want to be an author?

I’ve always written poetry and in my youth I was very successful at it – I was published in several anthologies and had a couple of collections published. But apart from an attempt at a novel when I was fourteen, I had not written a book until a few years ago. So in answer to the second half of your question, I always knew I was a poet, but not a novelist.

That said, I have always written stories in my head both as a way of understanding people I met and as a way of escaping the world. I was honored to work with disadvantaged people (asylum seekers, refugees, abused women, the homeless) for twenty years, but a few years ago it got too much and I had to stop. But the stories they told me stayed with me. A close friend of mine was a story editor in the film industry and had always loved my poetry: she encouraged me to write. I decided I would write a children’s novel. 

      What was your inspiration for ‘Girl in the Glass’?

The idea of the shadows goes back to a children’s play I wrote years ago and I used it in my new children’s novel. When my friend read the first draft of the book she picked up on it. The second thing she commented on was a minor character. Why was I so ambiguous about this woman? I rewrote the book and this character started to demand my attention. What was her secret? What was her story? I tried to write a children’s book about her, but still it wasn’t right. At last I realized she merited my full attention and an adult novel.

The first draft of Girl In The Glass only took me a month to write and there she was – Anya, complex, flawed, frustrating and loveable. Whatever people say about writers writing about themselves, Anya is not me. She is a combination of all those amazing women I had met through my work. She is also based on two women who were very important to me, but as one is still alive I won’t tell you who they are.

 
      The title of this book is very interesting. Can you expand on why you chose it for this novel?

There are a number of key points in the novel when Anya sees her reflection and realizes something about herself. In one case the mirror is held up by the housekeeper Marta so Anya can see that she looks like her mother, which is the reason why Anya’s aunt hates her. In another she sees herself in a shop window and is shocked by what she sees. As the book (and the trilogy) is about how Anya comes to understand and to value herself, the title seemed perfect. 

      Erin and I are very curious about what is referred to in the novel, a ‘Shadow’? I have a theory. Are you going to end our torture by telling us, or will it be more explored in upcoming novels?

I’m afraid you’ll have to wait. But I will tell you that book two – Love of Shadows – will give you a lot of answers. There will be a few more answers in book three.


       Since there has been mention that this novel is part of a trilogy, when should we expect to see the next installment?

Love of Shadows is currently being copy-edited. I’ve just commissioned the cover. I am aiming for release by October, so you won’t have to wait much longer. 

      You recently had a promotional offer for your novel “Mother of Wolves”. Can you tell us a little bit about this novel and what inspired this story?

Mother of Wolves is about another remarkable woman, Lupa, but she is very different from Anya. She is a born leader and has no self-doubt, so unlike Anya. When her husband is murdered, Lupa sets about revenging his death and in so doing protecting her sons. The story therefore starts off as a revenge story, but it turns into something more.  

Lupa had appeared as a minor character in  another children's novel I wrote and abandoned a couple of years ago. Although that novel is in my desk drawer never to see the light of day, my beta readers all wanted to know more about the character. In the first book she was a gypsy queen. I was nicknamed “gypo” at school and my grandmother may have been half-gypsy, so I have always been fascinated by the gypsies. I was on a boring tour of a Czech castle about two years ago, when I noticed some primitive paintings. Looking closer I could see they were paintings of the persecution of the gypsies – in one a woman with a baby in her arms is bleeding from where her ear has been cut off; this I discovered was the punishment just for being a gypsy woman. The gypsies have never united behind a leader in order to resist their persecutors, but what if they had, and what if that leader had been a woman?


       I know this one will be a hard one, but what is one of your all-time favorite books?

Hard! You’re not joking. Can I have a series? If so I choose the Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula Le Guin. Le Guin is the best author for creating realistic worlds and tacking important themes whilst telling a great tale. If I have to go for a single book, then it would by Jane Eyre. It was the first adult book I read and of course I identified with plain but spirited Jane. Now I am older I realise how clever the psychology is in it, there are good reasons why the Rochester/Jane relationship happens and works.  

      Tell us a little bit about how your experience as an author has been for you so far? Is it anything like you expected?

It’s still early days for me. But I am surprised and delighted by how many people just fall for Anya and how many get what I am trying to do with my novels. A lot of people, including yourselves, have been very generous and supportive. 

       What was the funniest or most memorable reader reaction to one of your novels?

I think the one that meant most to me was that of my story-editor friend. I am sure she was worried that her comments might put a strain on our relationship, what if my book was rubbish? It wasn’t and I really enjoyed her feedback. She used to say I was writing best-sellers - I hope she’s right. 

       Any advice for debut or aspiring authors out there?
   
Be self-critical but only after you've written the first draft. It’s a balance – you have to believe in yourself enough that you write (many people give up before they finish the first draft), but you have to be open to the fact that you won’t get things right at first go.


Thank you so much for your time! Erin and I are really looking forward to reading Mother of Wolves which we did not delay in downloading.

About the Author:
(pic and blurb from Goodreads)
Zoe BrooksI am a British writer and poet. I spend half my life in a partly restored old farmhouse in the Czech Republic, where I write all my novels and poetry. I aim to write popular books, which have complex characters and themes that get under the reader's skin. My first novel Girl in The Glass is available on Amazon, along with my second Mother of Wolves and my long poem for voices Fool's Paradise
For more information and/or to connect with Zoe Brooks, please check out her website!





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13 comments:

  1. I would have to say Just Evil by Vickie Mckeehan. I have just finished Deeper Evil (Book 2) and am rationing myself on reading Ending Evil (Book 3) because then the story will be told.

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    1. Thank you for the recommendation. Just added it to my 'to read' list. It sounds very interesting, and if you are delaying the inevitable with finishing the story, then that is a great sign of how good it it! :)

      Lily

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  2. Thank you for spotlighting Zoe Brooks. I recently started reading her books and am a BIG fan!

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    1. Hi Megan,

      Thanks for stopping in! We just LOVED this book. We are really looking forward to reading Mother of Wolves soon! :)

      Lily

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  3. I would have to say Jeaniene Frost's Once Burned was a memorable read for 2012!

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    1. Ooooh yes, I have that one waiting for me. I can't wait to read it!

      Lily

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    2. MMMM Vlad is pretty yummy, but I still love Cat and Bones best

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  4. Mary Higgin Clark Mystery books are all good, I really liked Cry In The Night.

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    1. Hi Jolynn_Reads

      Thank you for stopping in and good luck on the giveaway.

      Mary Higgin Clark mysteries are some of my favorite books to have on hand.

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  5. I loved The Reading Promise and Well of Shades this year :) Thanks for the giveaway!

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    1. Hello lovely Paige! :)

      Thanks for stopping in. Good luck with the giveaway as I am sure you would love this one.

      Thanks for answering the question because there are some really cool books being mentioned.

      Lily

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  6. Thank you for spot lighting Zoe Brooks, I have not read her books yet but look forward to.

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    1. Thank YOU for stopping in. We hadn't read Zoe's novels either until 'Girl in the Glass' and all we can say is, that we can't wait to read more!

      Lily

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