Welcome to my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, scriptwriters, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with new adult / young adult novelist Fleur Gaskin. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Fleur. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Fleur: I’m a Kiwi but I’ve been living away from New Zealand for the past twelve years. I seem to have settled in Asia. I like the strong family structure they have here. Right now I’m living in Shanghai with my fiancé and my two cats.
When I was twelve my drama teacher told my class to spend time observing people, to look at how they moved, imagine what they are thinking, what they are feeling. I’ve been people watching ever since. I thought I was going to become an actress, but it turns out that all that observation turned me into a good creator of characters.
I decided to start writing back in 2002 when I was modelling in Paris. You have a lot of down time as a model so I read and read. Eventually I worked out that I had stories to tell too. So I began to plan to my first book.
Morgen: What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Fleur: My first novel is New Adult, with a hint of Young Adult. I love Young Adult novels; they have a raw intensity that comes with the fervent emotions that teenagers experience. I feel sad that as we grow into adults we often lose that deep passion. We settle and start to forget our ideals, our dreams. As for my next novels, the one I’m working on now – I have no idea what genre it’ll fit into, the one after that I hope will be science fiction… I dislike being pigeon-holed.
Morgen: Me too. I write a bit of everything, although I’ve now settled into crime with my novels (I’m currently writing my seventh). What have you had published to-date?
Fleur: I have published just one novel, Arabelle’s Shadows. It’s about a model from New Zealand who keeps falling in love with the wrong people. All she ever wanted was to feel loved. As she travels the world she battles with her past depression demons, her vile Shadows.
Morgen: The best conflicts are often internal ones. You’ve self-published – what lead to you going your own way?
Fleur: Yes I self-published, that’s what happens when you’re from New Zealand, living in China and trying to sell your book to publishers in America or the U.K. (they get confused I think.) At first I was disappointed my novel wasn’t instantly swept up for a million dollars and a movie deal, but now I’m happy I self-published. It meant a lot more work for me. I had to edit that book so many times! Before I published it, I asked many people to read Arabelle’s Shadows, got feedback from them, and made adjustments accordingly. The best part about self-publishing is you get to keep the novel as you intended. It doesn’t go through the marketing research machine which can take the uniqueness out of a novel, leaving it quite generic.
Morgen: Indeed. I read Dean Koontz (who was supposed to have had 500+ rejections before his first novel was published) quoted as saying that in one of his books there were seven words left that he’d written. A vast exaggeration of course but he was clearly unimpressed by the process. Is your book available as an eBook? How involved were you in that process? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Fleur: Arabelle’s Shadows is available as an eBook. You can find it here:http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/arabelles-shadows-fleur-gaskin/1114301682?ean=2940045092241 · https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/255578 · https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/arabelles-shadows/id580552073?mt=11 · www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Arabelles-Shadows/book-eoRgJj5IRUSzg0QVUw9joA · Arabelle’s Shadows is also available in paperback online at amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Arabelles-Shadows-Fleur-Gaskin/dp/1481073915 · or Createspace – www.createspace.com/4068611
I plan on getting an e-reader for my birthday this year. It’s so much more environmentally friendly – especially for anyone who reads as much as I do. But I will also always love paper books. My dream house has a library with books stacked from floor to ceiling.
Morgen: Mine too! I did have a quarter of a library (half the width and half the height of my dining room) but it’s since become a lodger’s (housemate’s) bedroom. 😦 Did you choose the title of your book?
Fleur: The title for my novel Arabelle’s Shadows was easy. Arabelle versus her Shadows is the main conflict with the novel. But what are the Shadows? We all have negative, self-destructive thoughts dwelling within our minds. If you are well loved, well balanced then you can disregard those thoughts easily enough. But if you have heartbreak, trauma or great loss dwelling within you then the vile Shadows have more power. The Shadows tell us that we are fat, lazy, useless or unlovable and we often believe them. If anyone is having trouble with depression, eating disorders or addiction, I have created a website based on the ideas of Arabelle’s Shadows – http://www.fightingtheshadows.com
Separating myself from my own dark thoughts was how I personally was able to overcome an intense, prolonged depression.
Morgen: What are you working on at the moment / next?
Fleur: For now I’m all about marketing Arabelle’s Shadows. Does anyone want to review my book? Please let me know! However whilst I am promoting Arabelle’s Shadows my subconscious is busy formulating the plot for my next novel. I have all main ideas sorted, I am just waiting for the plot to come together. I hope it’s going to be more light-hearted than Arabelle’s Shadows and it’s definitely not going to be based on my life!
Morgen: 🙂 What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Fleur: My advice is to not give up. I have discovered that talent is only a small portion of writing. It’s all about listening to feedback (not sulking and getting angry at your friends for not acknowledging your genius) and then making changes, adjustments. Maybe your work is good, but could it be better? Edit, edit, edit!
Morgen: Absolutely. Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Fleur: The best place to learn about Arabelle’s Shadows is on Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17282501-arabelle-s-shadows
You can find all my reviews and author interviews on Arabelle’s Shadows Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/ArabellesShadows
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Fleur: Thank you so much Morgen for all your hard work and your support for Authors.
Morgen: You’re very welcome, Fleur. I’m delighted you could join me today. This sounds very clichéd but my blogs wouldn’t be what they are without my guest so thank you for being one of them.
I then invited Fleur to include an extract of her writing…
My day started off okay. I had a casting at Emporium, a shopping centre near Rompo. I’ve always loved being in Emporium. Outside it’s all hot, dirty and crowded but as soon as you walk through the entrance everything’s cool, spacious and sparkly. And it’s welcoming, even though it’s full of lavish designer stores. It’s not like other stuffy malls for the wealthy, which always make me feel uncomfortable like, since I don’t have a platinum credit card, I shouldn’t be there.
After the casting I saw my friend Ying Thompson walking towards the escalator. She broke off from the group she was with and came over to give me a hug. “Hey Arabelle, what are you doing? Come sit with me while I get my makeup done.”
“Are you doing a fashion show?” I asked her thinking of all the models that’d been with her. “Nope. The others are, I’m hosting the event. Come on!” Without waiting for me to reply she linked her arm through mine and led me downstairs towards a backstage area in the basement. Ying’s a very popular singer in Thailand. As we walked through the mall you could hear people saying her name and giggling. Ying paid no attention to all the turning heads. She was on the phone, in the middle of a fierce monetary negotiation with a client. They want her to become the face of their rice crackers.
The concrete room we entered was full of people bustling around getting ready for the fashion show. We found an empty space and sat down amongst everyone else’s handbags, shawls and bottles of water.
“So what’s been happening?” She asked in a strong Kiwi accent (her Dad’s from New Zealand, her Mum’s Thai-Chinese). “I think I…” I was bursting to tell her about Naak but Ying’s assistant interrupted and started asking a lot of questions in Thai. “Sorry,” Ying said focusing her attention back to me, “what were you going to say?”
“I was out at Bed the other week and… well… I think I’m dating Naak!”
Ying pursed her lips together in a frown, not the look of excitement I’d been expecting. “No you’re not.” Ying said flatly, “Naak has a girlfriend. She left to study in the States a couple of weeks ago.”
Looking away from Ying I caught sight of my reflection in the makeup mirror opposite me. My face was stuck in the smile I’d worn when I was telling her I had a boyfriend. Except now the lines around my mouth were strained. With bulging eyes my smile looked more like a grimace.
“I think they’re dating because her family owns a lot of the property on Sukumvit Road,” Ying continued. “You know, she’s only eighteen!” Naak’s thirty.
“Okay,” I murmured. I searched desperately for something else to say in response. Luckily the brand new mobile on Ying’s lap began to vibrate. With her perfectly manicured fingers, a tiny crystal heart in the centre of each nail, Ying set about replying to the text message. Ying hates all unpleasantness and it appeared that, as far as she was concerned, the issue was settled.
I’ve had plenty of experience detaching myself from my wretched weeping soul and by the time Ying put her phone down I’d rearranged my face into neutral. My robot body looked at my mobile and told Ying, “Sorry, I’ve got to go see the agency now,” it hugged her goodbye. It smiled and acted like Arabelle didn’t care that Naak had a girlfriend.
My insides died and disintegrated the whole journey home. I paused the tears right up until I exited the elevator. When I found no one in my shared room I blinked, allowing them trickle down the sides of my face and jump to the floor.
And a synopsis…
Everything in Arabelle’s life is coming together. She has confidence, great friends, she’s even dating Naak, a wealthy Thai socialite. But there are too many models in Bangkok. Arabelle’s broke, she can’t find an agent in New York, and Naak isn’t as wonderful as he first appears. Slowly the Shadows creep back into Arabelle’s mind, bringing with them thoughts of hopelessness and despair. The vile Shadows know something Arabelle’s refusing to remember and, if she’s not careful, they’ll use it to destroy her. Based on a true story, Arabelle’s Shadows takes us on a journey through the struggles of growing up, not quite making it as an international model, and attempting to overcome a crushing depression.
Fleur Gaskin is from New Zealand. She was an international model for six years, working in over ten countries, mainly in Asia and Europe. She has been in TV commercials, walked on runways and done many print jobs including Elle, Marie Claire and Vogue magazines. She presently lives in Shanghai, China with her fiancé.
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