Friday, April 27, 2012

Zoë Marriott

Zoë Marriott lives in a little house in a town by the sea, with two rescued cats, a springer/cocker spaniel known as The Devil Hound, and over 10,000 books. Her first YA novel -The Swan Kingdom, a fairytale retelling based on Hans Christian Andersen's 'Wild Swans' - was written when she was only twenty one, and published to wide critical acclaim when she was twenty-four. She has since had two more award-winning young adult fantasies published, and has five further novels scheduled for publication in the next four years.

Her reply to my recent query about what she was reading:
I'm the sort of person who inevitably leaves half-read books lying around everywhere, in the same way that a snail cannot help producing a silvery trail of slime. You can trace my path though life in piles of books on the stairs, stacked up next to my bed, balanced on the edge of the bath, forgotten between pots of herbs on the kitchen windowsill.

I recently finished reading - in one sitting no less! - an ARC of Sarah Rees Brennan's new YA novel Unspoken, which is a kind of modern Gothic mystery with added humour and fantasy elements. It had all the things I love about Diana Wynne Jones, like intriguing and subtle magic, jokes, twisting characterisation, and all the things I love about Mary Stewart such as atmosphere, tangible setting, romance. I loved it and can't wait for the next in the series.

I'm also re-reading Fumi Yoshinaga's life-affirming manga series Flower of Life, about a wildly varied group of would-be-artists, teachers, and friends who struggle through the final years of Japanese high school together, their lives revolving around one of their number who has recently recovered from leukemia. I always remember to tell people how hilarious and beautifully written Flower of Life is, but I sometimes forget to say how truly moving and poignant the character's journeys are as they learn to connect with each other and themselves. I recommend this to anyone who is searching for a way in to manga.

For relaxing before bed, or when I'm indulging in a long soak in the bath, I've got The Unknown Ajax by the incomparable Georgette Heyer. This classic historical novel blends thoughtful commentary on the responsibilities and prejudices of the privileged, sly humour, cunning character portraits and one of the best - and most unexpected - romantic leads of all time. Move over Mr Darcy.

When I need inspiration for my current work in progress - a YA urban fantasy series - I dig out and re-read Ilona Andrews wonderful Kate Daniels novels. These are adult post-apocalyptic fantasies with a simply fabulous, fearless heroine and the kind of non-stop breathless pacing that makes me green with envy. They remind me that if you're stuck, there's no better remedy than to have a sword-wielding demon leap through the door!
Visit Zoë Marriott's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue