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 Michelle Hauck, author of epic fantasy novel Grudging – out this week from Harper Voyager Impulse. When she’s not being banished to a desert island, Michelle can be found at www.michelle4laughs.com.
As part of her book launch, Michelle has put together a brilliant prize package of SFF novels – so stay tuned for the giveaway at the end of the interview!
Michelle, 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.
Let’s see. I write epic fantasy. I am a regular bookworm and prefer libraries over shopping malls. I love my kindle and ebooks, but also like reading the paperback copies once in a while. I haven’t punched a shark but have fed a giraffe (giraffes have blue tongues) and milked a goat. I’m afraid of heights and don’t even like watching other people up high. I’m a real homebody, and I’m not sure how I got stranded all alone, but it sounds like an adventure.
And what about your own work? What are the inspirations behind it? What would make someone else choose it to accompany them into exile?
I was inspired by the deserts around Tucson Arizona, so there might be a thing or two in there about surviving on a desert island. It’s also inspired by medieval Spain and has references to saints and knights in armor and early warfare. A lot of it touches on honor and leadership and of course there’s the Grudging part. Can traditional enemies find common ground?
I'm looking forward to reading it! So 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?
My favorite childhood book was The Three Musketeers. I’ll bet you’re seeing a theme here as that book features some warriors and deals with honor as well. The daring-do of young men fighting for each other and to save their queen’s virtue. I read it over and over as a kid.
I loved The Three Musketeers too! 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.
This is tough. I’m not sure one book really shaped me, but maybe Gone With the Wind comes close. You know, it really has all the aspects of a good high fantasy tale: the level of detail, the long time period over years, the war backdrop, and the huge cast of characters. It just lacks the fantasy.
I wonder why no one has ever done a retelling with Scarlett as a witch or something?
Oh my goodness! I would totally read that! 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.
My greatest comfort read is Jane Austen. It’s what I take on vacations. I love the polished language in the prose, and the manners and romance of a time more structured than our own. Some of the characters had honor and some did not, but it’s a great blend of the heroic and the ridiculous. It just has a calming effect on me. I’m going to cheat a little and take a volume of the complete tales of Jane Austen.
That is a cheat, but it's a nice cheat, so we'll allow it :-) 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 …
I’m going with a recent read here: Golden Son. I’m not usually into science fiction and this is a big epic space opera. Plus I hated the first book of the series, Red Rising. Yet, I had a total turn around on this book. I just loved it and actually found myself liking the main character. I’m glad I gave it a try!
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.
I’m going with a safe bet here, Anna. The Swiss Family Robinson. If ever a family lived and lived well on a deserted island, it’s in this story. They found everything they needed. I think this might be my second incident of cheating, but a story of survival like this would surely help me as I’m marooned.
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 …
An item? Can I cheat again? My first instinct is to grab all the seasons of Supernatural, but that might be too scary when you’re all alone on an island. Hmm. Firestarter? Too practical. It has to be an item and not a person? I’m tempted to go with my phone and twitter app. I might be a little addicted to twitter. And if I can’t see anyone, I could at least communicate.
But I’d really rather take my husband. I feel so safe with him, and I’m sure he could accomplish anything.
As for a movie or music, I think the theme calls for me to say Castaway and the song from Gilligan's Island. But "Everyone Wants to Rule the World" by Tears for Fears is my favorite song and Gone with the Wind is my favorite movie. Those will do.
Done. And we'll even let you take your husband instead of your phone :-) 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.
How about near the Hawaiian Islands? I hear they have great weather, mild all year. There would be a helpful growing season and lots of fruit. And beaches! Gotta have beautiful beaches. Just leave off the volcano. Some of my favorite reads at my side. I could handle that for a week or two.
That’s it, then – you’re ready to go. Thank you for joining us, and enjoy your trip!
Thank you, Anna, for the fun questions and the interview!
Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two teenagers. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. She is a co-host of the yearly query contests Query Kombat, Nightmare on Query Street, New Agent, PitchSlam, and Sun versus Snow. Her Birth of Saints Series from Harper Voyager starts with GRUDGING – out now. Her epic fantasy, KINDAR’S CURE, was published by Divertir Publishing. She’s represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary.
Blog: Michelle4Laughs: It’s in the Details
Facebook: Michelle Hauck, Author
To celebrate the release of Grudging, Michelle has arranged a huge giveaway featuring lots of Voyager authors – including me! Enter below for your chance to win the whole prize package of 13 books!