What is your favourite quote, by whom, and why? Albert Einstein
I have always loved fairytales and I think adults should read them too. We tend to discard them as we grow older but they are the purest form of stories, you can learn so much by reading them.
What is your favourite food? I love seafood. When our son was young we had many happy holidays camping in Brittany and Normandy (in France). We used to eat at restaurants overlooking where the fishing boats were unloading. Our four-year old son used to consume adult-sized plates of mussels, particularly liking the ones which had little crabs inside. As he grew older we started to holiday in Greece and would eat meze beside the beach – octopus, squid, as well as mussels etc.
When and why did you begin writing? I’ve always written poetry: I was first published at the age of thirteen and was regarded as one of the bright young things of British poetry, but poetry doesn’t pay the bills and I had to focus on my career. For over twenty years I had a very demanding job working with disadvantaged people and loved it, but about a few years ago it all became too much and I changed my career. I decided I would follow the dream of writing novels. I had always made up stories but up until then they were for my enjoyment only.
What inspires you to write and why? I have two main inspirations – when I am writing. Firstly I am influenced by my former career, during which I met and talked to some amazing women, who had been to hell and back. Those women influence both my heroines, who both are outsiders who have to struggle against prejudice. Secondly I am influenced by knowledge of history – I studied history at university – which is full of fascinating stories and themes. In this book I used the history of how women healers were persecuted and killed (as witches) between the 14th and 17th centuries.
What genre are you most comfortable writing? I have been told I write magic realism. I had never heard about magic realism before – but basically it’s realistic but with something magical or strange in it. My books are set in an unspecified place and time, which some people find disturbing. The book is also women’s fiction – I write about women, all my books have strong heroines. There’s some romance in the book, but it’s not the only thing by any means.
How did you come up with the title? In the realistic world that I have created one of the fantasy elements is Shadows. The central character and the book’s narrator, Judith, has a Shadow called Sarah. Shadows are very like human beings, but they do not have the emotions of humans. Because they are different they are victims of prejudice and persecution. Judith’s love for Sarah is at the heart of why she takes action to help when Shadows are attacked, it is also why she is drawn to a man called Bruno, who too knows what it is to love a Shadow. The Shadow concept came very early on in the writing of the series. Shadows allow me to explore what goes into being human, about prejudice and relationships.
Can you tell us about your main character? Judith, the central character of both and , is a loveable, complex and at times frustrating young woman. I fell in love with her when I wrote the first book in the trilogy. In this book we see her choose to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a healer, even though traditional women healers are being persecuted and she is risking her life to do so. Judith has been badly damaged emotionally, first by her upbringing and then by a particularly nasty relationship with a man, as a result she is naturally scared of emotional attachment, other than to Sarah her Shadow. What sort of man could get past her barriers? Then she meets Bruno.
Who designed the cover? I am very lucky that my son John is a graphic designer. He usually works in the film and television industry. He worked on and is currently working on a BBC series So when I need a cover I get on the telephone to John. He’s been brilliant and very patient with his demanding mum. He’s currently creating an animated map for me.
Have you started another book yet? I have just finished the first draft of the final book in It picks up where ends and follows Judith once more. She is forced by circumstances to take a journey which will lead her to confront her past and embrace her future. And we get the final pieces in the puzzle about Shadows.
What do you do to unwind and relax? I love walking – not in order to get somewhere, but so I can enjoy looking at nature. When I was a little girl my mother used to take me for long walks and she taught me how to look at the world. That sounds strange but a lot of people when out won’t see anything. My mother taught me how to see flowers and animals and how to use my imagination. Now I’ve caught the Czech obsession about foraging for wild food. There are raspberries and wild strawberries in the woods above my Czech home and best of all lots of mushrooms.
“I had always felt most alive, when I was healing. Without healing I was a tin top spinning out of kilter soon to catch the ground. It took all my energy to hold myself from skidding into chaos.”
But in the city of Pharsis traditional women healers are banned from practising and the penalty for breaking the law is death by hanging. After being arrested and interrogated twice Judith is careful to avoid suspicion, but then scarlet fever breaks over the city like a poisonous wave, leaving in its wake the small corpses of children. What will the young healer do?
Love of Shadows is the second novel in The Healer’s Shadow trilogy, which began with Girl in the Glass, and follows the lives of Judith and her Shadow, Sarah. It is a study in grief, love and defiance.
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When Zoe was a little girl her inventor father taught her to look at things another way, while her mother taught her to see dragons in the shapes of natural things. Zoe is still practicing what she was taught.
As a result Zoe is an award-winning British writer and poet. She spends half her life in a partly restored old farmhouse in the Czech Republic, where she writes all her novels and poetry.
Zoe aims to write popular books, which have complex characters and themes that get under the reader's skin. She finds her experience of working with people on the edge of society an inspiration for her fiction.
She has a liking for books where fantasy and reality meet. Her favourite writers include Ursula Le Guin, Hilary Mantel, Angela Carter and Andrei Makine. Her favourite books include Jane Eyre, The Hummingbird's Daughter, The Earthsea Quartet and Nights at the Circus
To find out more please read Zoe's blog on http://zoebrooks.blogspot.com. Zoe also has a book review blog, which focuses on magic realism books - http://www.magic-realism.net.
28th May – Book Feature, Author Interview & Guest Post at Talisman Book Publishing
4th June – Book Feature & Guest Post at Fighting Monkey Press
11th June – Author Interview at Writers and Authors
18th June – Author Interview at Books are Magic