Interview with Tanya K. Gough
Author of Root Bound
1. Can you tell me a little about yourself and how you got into writing?
Of course! My name is Tanya Karen Gough (Gough is pronounced “Goff,” like “cough”). I was born in Canada, grew up in the United States, taught overseas for a while and then ended up back in Canada. I currently live in Toronto. I’ve been writing as long as I can remember: poetry and short stories when I was young, academic work (I studied English Literature in school), and marketing copy through work. I also helped write textbooks when I was teaching.
2. Where did you get the idea for Root Bound
ROOT BOUND came from a number of places. About 10 years earlier, I was playing around with the idea of a fairy tale mashup, with characters in the present who had no idea they were modern day versions of these iconic heroes. And no, it wasn’t at all like Once Upon a Time. I never really did anything with the storyline, but I did write a scene that stuck with me over time. Later on, when I started thinking about ROOT BOUND, the mashup idea was still there, but it had evolved into the world in my book – a place where all the fairy tales and books come to life in unexpected ways. By making this change, I found I had more freedom to explore themes of perception, memory, and finding one’s place in the world.
3. Who or what inspired you to become an author?
As I’ve said, I’ve been writing all my life. I’ve also been a voracious reader all my life, as well. I turn to books for information, for pleasure, and for escape. And writing has always been the way I best express myself creatively. My mom and sister both paint, my father plays guitar, and I write. It’s how I’m wired.
4. The character of your book you feel most attached to?
Ack, this is one of those “which one of your children do you love best” questions. As soon as I pick one, the others will get upset, and then I’ll end up with a head full of angry characters that don’t want to play with me anymore. However, I will say that the know-it-all brownie Mat is the most fun to write. It’s just plain fun to write about a know-it-all who doesn’t understand that they don’t really know anything. I also really like the way the goddess Ceres turned out.
Ceres is the Roman goddess of earth and agriculture (for a quick, kid-friendly version of the story, click here: http://rome.mrdonn.org/romangods/ceres.html). She goes dormant for six months when she’s mourning her daughter, so I imagined her spending winters in a cave, deep underground, not far from her child. Without her daughter, Ceres has no personality of her own, so she physically goes dormant like a seed, too.
5. Looking back at Root Bound, is there anything in the story you might have written a little differently? Something you would like to change?
I’m sure ROOT BOUND would be different if I had gone the traditional publishing route. Having access to a high end editor and the whole publishing machine might have smoothed out a few rough edges and made the book more commercially mainstream. But you lose some of the idiosyncrasies and unique features of the book in that process, too. On the other hand, self-publishing means I had the freedom to write the story I really wanted to write, on my own terms. I’m ok with that.
5. Any other books in the works? Goals for future project?
I'm working on Book Two in the Emma & the Elementals series. It's called Water Works.
Water Works is about ways of thinking about the world. Things that were true in Book One may not be true in Book Two, or they may have changed because things change over time,especially in a world that operates with a different set of logic rules. And because this book is about changing realities, she won’t be travelling in the classic Greek and Roman mythological world this time. She’s going someplace less familiar. I’d like the reader to discover new worlds, too.
6. What book are you reading now?
I have a couple of things on the go right now. I just started Guy Gavriel Kay’s superb fantasy novel Under Heaven, set in ancient China. I’m also looking at Oliver Sacks’ books Hallucination and Mind’s Eye because I’m very interested in perception and how we see the world around us. I’m also working my way through Philip Pullman’s recent update of the Brothers Grimm stories.
7. What do you do when writers block strikes?
It depends. If I can’t write because I have no ideas, then I go to the movies, or a museum, or read a book. If I can’t concentrate, I walk. I tend to think a lot before I sit down to write, though, so once I have pen in hand, I just have to figure out how to translate the idea into story.
Emma And The Elementals #1
How far will you go to find your way home?
Emma and her father are always on the move, travelling from place to place as her father’s work demands. Their new home, however, is different. There’s a frightening woman who lives down the hall: she bears an uncanny resemblance to a witch. A mysterious light comes from her apartment, and a small boy seems to be trapped inside.
School in this town is no happy place either, with an odd principal and a gang of girls who make tormenting Emma their special project. And strangest of all is the fact that there seem to be brownies – basement brownies, in the air vent in her bedroom.
Haunted by visions of her mother, Emma travels through the brownie burrow to the valley of Hades to visit with the goddess Ceres, following a series of clues that lead her across the sea of memory to the centre of the world.
There, on an inhospitable rock floating in a sea of steaming lava, Emma must find a way to release her mother from the sea of memory and restore magic to both the brownie burrow and the human world above.
Tanya Karen Gough owned and published The Poor Yorick Shakespeare Catalogue from 1997-2007, earning a strong international customer base of world class academics and high school educators. Tanya was also a contributing editor for the Internet Shakespeare Editions at the University of Victoria (BC), audio advisor for the Sourcebooks Shakespeare textbook series, and theatre reviewer for Playshakespeare.com. Tanya grew up in New Hampshire and currently lives in Toronto, Ontario.
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/
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