Not long ago, I reviewed a great book by Candy Gourlay called Tall Story. I enjoyed the book so much that I emailed Ms. Gourlay (whose new novel Shine just came out) to ask her a few questions. She is super friendly and was very kind to respond with some marvelous answers.
1) I read on your website about how you often include elements from your life and background into your books. Which story that you wrote do you think has the most of your life in it?
Tall Story has so much of my life in it. I too was a left behind child – my father couldn’t find work as an architect in Manila and for a time, had to work in the Middle East as a builder. Andi feels that she doesn’t quite belong though she grew up in England – I have many friends and have lived in England for 26 years now but there is always that part of me that feels like a stranger. And there’s Bernardo who will always feel different – I felt that way when I was a teenager. I do wonder though if many young people feel the same. There’s a part in the book where Andi thinks, ‘The truth is, even though I didn’t know him, I have missed him just as much as he has missed me.” That’s how I feel about not being around as my little nieces and nephews in the Philippines grow up. I don’t really know them … but I miss them so much.
3) How was it to go from being a beginning writer to the author of your award-winning book, Tall Story? What would your advice be for a beginning writer who is looking to take their writing to the next level?
When Tall Story came out, there were no fireworks and I wasn’t suddenly getting recognised in the street. I was still there in my shabby jeans, writing every morning. The big change for me was that it turns out being an author is not just about writing. It’s about performing. So every so often I have to actually climb out of my pajamas and talk to large numbers of people. My advice to beginning writers? If you are writing because you’d like to become an author, then don’t just talk about it, get on with it. Write. Skill up. Learn the craft. But while
4) You do a lot of school visits. What do you enjoy the most when visiting schools?
5) In Tall Story, Bernardo was separated from the rest of his family for a long time because of legal issues. If he had grown up in England and only visited his family in the Philippines, how do you think his personality would have been different?
Ahhh what a great question. My children are exactly that. They’ve grown up in England and only go to the Philippines occasionally. And yes, the story would have been very different. What my kids find is that they are suddenly surrounded by family. We move everywhere in herds. And people are always bursting into song. They love it.