Friday, July 16, 2010

Author Interview: Kersten Hamilton

Yesterday I reviewed Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton and today I am very excited to be able to share an interview with Kersten Hamilton the author of Tyger Tyger.  Without further ado I give you Kersten!

What inspired you to write Tyger Tyger?
Kersten: The goblin world grew from my Celtic roots and love of scary stories—the kind that grandmothers used to tell by candlelight while shadow creatures crept across the walls behind you. You could feel them; their cold breath on your neck gave you the shivers.
I wasn’t sure at first what the physical form of my goblin book would be. I first wrote it as a dark, scary picture book called Loveleaves and Woodwender. And then I read Beastly by Alex Flinn, which is a YA retelling of The Beauty and the Beast. It was so much fun that I decided to try a YA fairy tale of my own—I reworked Loveleaves and Woodwender, and Tyger Tyger was born!

Tyger Tyger is based on the Finnian Cycle, did you spend a lot of time researching before you started writing?
Kersten: I’ve been researching it my whole life—I can’t think of a time when I wasn’t hearing or reading the stories of the Celtic heroes. But I also did a lot of reading of history, nonfiction, and myth before and during my writing. 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.

How did you decide on the title Tyger Tyger?
Kersten: ‘The Tyger’ is a brilliant poem by William Blake. It explores the question that is very much at the heart of the Goblin Wars books: did a good God create evil?  If you’d like to read the poem, you can find a copy here.

When can we expect the next book in the Goblin Wars series?
Kersten: I’m writing In the Forests of the Night right now, and it will be out in the fall of 2011. Fearful Symmetry should follow in 2012!

Do you have planned out how many books will be in the Goblin Wars series yet?
Kersten: I think it will be a trilogy, but you never do know, you never can tell…. J

When you're not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
Kersten: I like hunting camels, mammoths, saber tooth tigers—and the really BIG game, dinosaurs— in the desert bad lands of New Mexico. They are bones now, of course. But I love being the first human to find a creature that hasn’t been seen for tens of thousands or even millions of years.
I also dream a lot about the forest garden I want to grow somewhere in the East where rain falls from the sky. In his book, Edible Forest Gardens, Dave Jacke describes a forest garden as “…an edible ecosystem, a consciously designed community of mutually beneficial plants and animals intended for human food production.”
Forest gardens mimic natural forests, and include trees, shrubs, and ground cover as well as insects and small animals that are essential to woodland health.
I’m going to call my forest garden “Bombadil’s Wood,” and it will be a place where people can come and learn how to plant forest gardens of their own.
You can find out more about forest gardens and why they are such an important concept by watching the series of BBC videos called ‘A Farm for the Future’ on YouTube. The first one is here.

Do you have any 'must-haves' while writing?
Kersten: If I can have a walk and talk with the Creator of creation before I start my writing day, a very hot cup of coffee, and my computer, I am perfectly happy.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers? 
Kersten: Be aware and beware of Zeitgeist
In our culture we read the same popular books, watch the same popular movies, listen to the same network newscasts…and this leads to many writers coming up with very similar story lines. Don’t do it.
Send your literary roots deeper and farther. Read classics. Read books outside of your genre. Read history, psychology, and science. Read books from other cultures.
Make friends with people who are different from you, who grew up in different times, in different places, with a different religion. Let them tell their whole story, and listen with your whole heart.
I think writing is the most important job in the world. Give it your best!

Thanks for the great advice and awesome interview Kersten! The first book in the Goblin Wars series, Tyger Tyger is out in November 2010 so be sure to check it out!

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