We always love the opportunity to ask authors questions about their books, writing and inspirations. We are thrilled with the answers Gabriela wrote for us!!
Where did the inspiration for this story come from?
I wanted to explore the relationship that Mara had to her dual nature, and the journey that a child like her would go through when losing the person they have anchored their identity to. Mara couldn’t just let go of her father and mourn him, because she didn’t know who she was without him, and she feared she wouldn’t like the answer to that question.
What folktales and legends did you draw from?
A great many in this book! Most of the gods and creatures in The Wind Child are taken from the Slavic bestiaries and mythology books. Mara and Torniv come across many monsters on their journey, which I picked based on how they reflected my protagonists fears and weaknesses. Kania, for example, is a shapeshifting demon who targets lost children. And, in many respects, both Mara and Torniv feel lost. They only cease to be so when they learn to trust and rely on each other.
Did you grow up loving fairytales and folktales?
Absolutely! My parents are great readers, and I was very lucky to grow up surrounded by books. A lot of my early childhood stories were based on Slavic mythologies. Then, as I grew, I was drawn to the Celtic, Norse and Greek mythologies. But I read voraciously, and was happy to read pretty much anything.
Mara and Torniv are brilliant characters- do they draw on characteristics from people in your life?
I think it’s inevitable that you put a little bit of the people you know into your work, but it’s not a conscious thing for me, most of the time, and only in retrospect do I see the similarities. Though I admit, Sorona Gontova is partially inspired by my maternal grandmother, Lonia. Sorona’s strength and warmth are a reflection of how I see my gran. I’m very lucky to have her in my life.
Mara and Torniv are a mix, I would say. I took some of their personalities from how I was as a child, some from how I aspired to be, and from some from my favourite childhood characters as well.
What do you hope readers will take from your tale?
I want them to have been entertained! That is quite fundamental, in my view. And if they were moved by the story as well? Well, then my cup is full!
Did you have a favourite part to write?
I loved writing the Uncle Borovy/Aunt Borova scenes. For me the forest guardian spirits represent a lot of what the Slavic mythologies are about: loyalty, protecting the land, being fair. But there’s also a bit of spice to them: a dash of mischievousness, a pinch of trickery.
Are you working on another story?
Always! I have an adult project in the pipeline, but I’m also not done with Mara!
When do you do your best writing and do you have a special writing space?
I have a desk tucked away in the corner of my house, where I have my books, papers, art materials and, of course, my laptop. But I also love working in the cafes whenever the pandemic is not upon us. I have two local writing buddies, without whom I would be a lot slower with my work, that’s for sure. Having friends who you can work alongside is a great privilege and luxury.
What fuels your writing?
I’m a great believer that you have to put some art in to get art out. I read a lot. I don’t think there is a way around that if you want to be a writer.
My writing is also very much inspired by the natural world, and I tend to get my best ideas when on long walks.
The Wind Child is written by Gabriela Houston, published by UCLan publishing. It is available now!