Welcome to Barren Island Books, the author interview series that’s in no way related to a popular music-based radio programme. You know the rules by now: my guests are exiled 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 those books for a long, long time …
My interviewee this week is Mariah E. Wilson, author of poetry collection We Walk Alone and forthcoming novel The Demon in Him. When she’s not being banished to a desert island, Mariah can be found at www.mariahewilsonauthor.weebly.com.
Mariah, 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.
I’m just your typical Canadian poet. I have three kids, two cats and a pretty awesome husband. I sometimes play guitar, which I’m mostly self taught, and I sometimes sing, which I mostly do off key. I have what is probably an unhealthy obsession with nightcore music on YouTube, Game of Thrones and Outlander.
And what about your own work? What are the inspirations behind it? What would make someone else choose it to accompany them into exile?
There are actually many inspirations behind my work. I’d like to think that each poem is a snapshot from my life. I think people would take my book into exile with them because my poems are pretty universal (I’d like to think so, anyway), in that a great many people can connect with them and understand them.
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?
I am David by Anne Holm. I’ve read this book countless times. I read it often as a child and I still read it at least once every year or so as an adult. It might be seen as a strange pick for a favorite childhood book, a book about a child escaping from a prison camp, but I always had strange taste.
Well, if you're strange then I am too, because I love that book! Though I must admit, you're the only other person I've met who's read it. So 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.
They Cage the Animals at Night by Jennings Michael Burch. It’s the true story about a boy in New York who is repeatedly moved around between his home with his mother and various group homes in New York. It was the first book I ever read that affected me emotionally. I didn’t know at this point, the tender age of twelve, that a book could emotionally destroy you. I was totally unaware that a book could both anger you and devastate you, all at the same time.
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.
I’d take Anne of Green Gables. I’ve read this book so many times now that reading it is like visiting an old friend. I find comfort in the pages and knowing what happens doesn’t stop me from cringing when I see Anne get herself into, and out of, some pretty hilarious predicaments.
Ah, it's a classic! 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 …
The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. Or, if I have to be specific, Wizard's First Rule (book #1). When I first read this, I didn’t read fantasy novels. I’d been turned off the genre years earlier by other books that I just couldn’t get into. So I didn’t expect to like it, at all. But my mom, she can be pretty convincing. See, she didn’t read fantasy novels either, for much the same reason, but the speed at which my dad devoured the books impressed her enough to convince her to give it a try. I wasn’t expecting much, at all, but I ended up really loving the entire series. It was Terry Goodkind who convinced me to give fantasy another shot. I’m not disappointed.
Well, as a fantasy aficionado myself, I'm glad you found a book to convince you! 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.
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. It’s already a classic, but I think more people need to read this book. Dumas was an amazing storyteller and The Count of Monte Cristo is no exception.
Excellent. 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 …
One song: Something I Need by OneRepublic. I listen to this song on repeat for hours.
One film: Dirty Dancing, because it’s awesome.
Other item of choice: is coffee an item? Because I’d really like to bring a lot of coffee with me.
One neverending coffee pot coming up :-) 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.
Scotland. Did I mention my unhealthy obsession with Outlander yet?
At least you went with Outlander rather than Game of Thrones – Scotland is probably a little bit safer than Westeros :-) So that’s it: you’re ready to go. Thank you for joining us, and enjoy your trip!