Welcome to Barren Island Books, an interview show in no way related to a popular music-based radio programme. Every Thursday, I will be exiling my latest guest to a remote island with only five books for company, selected from the categories I give them. It’s up to them to make sure they choose wisely, because they’re going to be stuck with these books for a long, long time …
My interviewee this week is Linda Leander, author of INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders. When she's not being banished to a desert island, Linda can be found at www.lleander.com.
Linda, thanks for joining us. First of all, could you please tell us a little bit about yourself – just so we know who it is we’re sending into exile. Illogical fears, unusual birthmarks, whether you’d rather wrestle a bear or punch a shark, that kind of thing.
Well, I’m deathly afraid of snakes and hate rats and mice, so could you please banish me to a remote location that is free of those pests? I’m not much afraid of anything else though – in fact, I’m quite the adventuress. I love trying new things and love roller coasters and dune buggies. I actually think I could punch a shark – not so sure about wrestling the bear, though. I’m retired, writing full-time and fulfilling my dreams.
And what about your own work? What are the inspirations behind it? What would make someone else choose it to accompany them into exile?
My work is about strong women, not afraid to take risks, who follow their heart. The books are full of excitement and danger, mystery, romance and history. I’ve never ridden an elephant but I can sure tell you how to do it! I think someone would choose to take INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders into exile because it would keep them entertained with childhood (or adult) thoughts of the excitement and panorama of the circus, history of the Gypsies, and the circus in pre-Civil War America. The book is all about the courage of a young woman who grows up poor, follows her dreams and evolves into a famous person without losing sight of her roots.
Great, now let’s move on to the books you’re going to take to the island with you. First up, it’s your favourite childhood book – perhaps the one that got you interested in reading in the first place, or the one you read over and over when you were young. Which will you choose, and why?
Hands down it’s Wildfire by Zane Grey. I was ten when I read it and I loved it so much I read it over and over. Mr. Grey writes with vivid descriptions of the west and the characters take you into another world. Add in a beautiful free-spirited horse and you have a great read!
Next, the book that made the greatest impact on your life. This could be one that inspired you to become a writer, or one that made you look at the world in a whole new way – maybe even one that resulted in real-life romance or adventure.
That would have to be the Bible. I grew up in a religious household and I have always loved the way the words of the Bible are written and the stories they portray. The words never cease to comfort me, and if I could only pick one book the Bible would be it!
For your third book – and you’re probably going to need this one, all alone on a remote island – I’d like you to choose your greatest comfort read. You know, the one you turn to when you’re sad or ill or just need a little pick-me-up.
Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I pick it up again every few years and it’s like an old shoe. But I always delight in the story and find something new I missed. A funny aside – I begged my parents to see the movie when it came to our small rural town in the 1960s. My dad said no way was it acceptable for a twelve year old (even though I’d read the book twice by then when he wasn’t looking!). I begged and pleaded to no avail. I finally saw the movie when I was in my twenties and had children of my own. I never really understood why my father refused to let me see it, but he rarely said no, so he must have thought it would be detrimental to my growing up!
Fourthly, it’s your unexpected treasure: a book you didn’t expect to like but did, maybe one outside your usual genre or that you picked up with low expectations but were pleasantly surprised …
Snow Wolf by Glen Meade – I couldn’t put it down! At the time I wasn’t into espionage books, but he made me want more. I read the book in one sitting – it’s another I’ve read several times.
And finally, I’d like you to choose your instant classic – the book you think most deserves to be read and reread by future generations. It’s up to you whether this book is already considered a classic or is something more obscure.
Has to be Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. I had a teacher in high school who understood my need for the written word. She loaned me her own library of books and we discussed them. I couldn’t get enough of what she gave me to read and it was there I developed a real love for Dickens, Shakespeare, Bronte, Hardy and many more! Tess of the d’Urbervilles is another story of great courage – I loved every word!
Right. We’ll get those five books packaged up ready for your journey. Since we’re not completely heartless here at Barren Island Books, we’ll also let you take one song/piece of music, one film and one other item of your choice into exile with you …
I’m a singer/songwriter so I’ll be taking a lot of songs (in my head) along with me, but I’d probably choose something by Emmylou Harris (my favourite singer) – I love all her songs but probably Hickory Wind would be in my bag. For my film I’ll have to take Planes, Trains and Automobiles – my favorite holiday movie, so I’ll have some laughs when I’m sad about being away from family. The other item is very hard. There are two I can’t imagine living without – my Martin guitar and my teddy bear. Teddy would win because I’ve had him since I was one year old. He’s pretty sad looking now, since I plucked his eyes off and my mother embroidered blue ones in their place. I picked his fur off (hey, I was only one!) so he’s bald. But he goes with me everywhere – here’s the story – my father was a truck driver after I was born. He came home from a run, saw how much I had grown and went down to quit his job. On the way home he bought me the teddy bear. He told my mother he could not bear to be away from me and have me grow up without him. The silver lining? He got a great job with the highway department and retired from there thirty-five years later! (I’ll really miss my guitar though.)
Excellent. Now, before we whisk you away, you have one last decision to make: where you want your remote island to be located. You can choose anywhere you like for your exile, in this world or another.
I think I’ll pick an island in Lake Michigan. No snakes though. Promise? Since Michigan is my birthplace and I was born close to Lake Michigan, it holds a special place in my heart. I’d feel at home and the summers are awesome. Guess I’d get pretty cold in the winter, but if I pick a tropical island I know there will be S.N.A.K.E.S. – hey, I watch Survivor, you know?
That’s it, then – you’re ready to go. Thank you for joining us, and enjoy your trip!
If you are an author and would like to take part in a future edition of Barren Island Books, please get in touch with me via the Contact page.