Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Women Writers of Color: Candy Gourlay

Full name: Candy Gourlay

Birth date: April 19, 1962

Hometown: Born Davao City, Philippines - though I'd call Cubao, Metro Manila [Philippines] my real hometown

Current location: London


Genre: I'm not sure - is there such a thing as culture clash as a genre (though the clash is very gentle)?

WiP or most recently published work: Tall Story

Writing credits:

I was a journalist in the first 20 years of my working life. Now I am attempting a career in writing fiction for children. I have written for Cbeebies the BBC baby radio channel, and contributed to anthologies. Tall Story is my debut novel.

How frequently do you update your site?

I blog on and I update my website whenever I have any new reviews and I try to create materials that teachers and librarians can use to supplement any work they do with Tall Story. Increasingly though, in terms of an internet presence, I find that all roads seem to lead to my Tall Story Facebook page!

Is your site designed for reader interaction?

Yes! Readers can interact with me via my guestbook and there are lots of things for teachers and librarians to download. My Tall Story Facebook page is great for sharing images, links and videos. Or for readers to drop by to say hello or to tell me they've read my book.

Post of note, something in particular you want readers to check out:

My most recent notable post is a reflection on the 1986 People Power Revolution in the Philippines, in the light of recent events in the Middle East.

Top 5 books you’re looking forward to in 2011?

I am desperate to read the third book of Kathleen Duey's The Resurrection of Magic but I don't think it's coming out in 2011.

My friend L.A. Weatherly's new Angel trilogy

Angel's Fury by Bryony Pearce

Muncle Trogg by Janet Foxley

Fiona Dunbar's new Kitty Slade series

Gillian Philip's Firebrand

Top 5 books that turned you into a writer?

Pop Stories for Groovy Kids by Nick Joaquin

My first taste of contemporary, well written stories for children, by a Filipino with a Filipino setting - it has a Bernardo Carpio story that made me realize that I too could use the Filipino giant in my writing.

(Oh btw - I had no idea when I read Pop Stories that I would someday be working for its publisher, Eggie Apostol!)

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

I read this so many times as a young person - I wanted to be Jo, the writer in the brood. But now when I read it as an adult I wonder how I managed to plow through it ... the language is so archaic!

The Prince and the Pauper by Samuel Clemens

I just love the dual perspective, the bringing together of two stories. And when I re-read it, it's still resonates!

Spider-Man by Stan Lee

Not a book - but I loved the soap opera of Peter Parker's life, the uncertain hero. Still a Spidey fan to this day!

Beverly Gray Mysteries by Clair Blank

A 1930s serial I found in my grandmother's library. Beverley is desperate to get published, becomes a reporter, gets rejected, meets and marries an Englishman before finally having her book accepted. Little did I know it would be the story of my life.

(I was tempted to include Mills & Boon but I don't want to disillusion my readers.)

I will include that last part in the interview. =P

I found out that one of my writing idols - Malorie Blackman - was also an avid Mills & Boon reader. I told her my favourite author was Charlotte Lamb - who wrote these amnesia love stories (love amnesia!) - she said Charlotte Lamb was her fave too! And then one day she was lecturing and mentioned this to the class [of writers] - one of the students was the daughter of Charlotte Lamb!

100 words or less: How would you describe your work?

I find it hard to describe my work – my characters are usually transplants from other cultures in a journey to discover their own uniqueness as well as the universality of experience. I like taking myths from my native Philippines and bending them to unusual effect. I am surprised by the underlying sadness that seems to come out in my writing because I am a relentlessly jolly person. I think this must come from being geographically separate from my family in the Philippines. The jolly does come out though – there is always a streak of funny in my writing.

100 words or less: Please share your thoughts on children and reading.

I once heard the Newbery winning author Richard Peck say: "If a child doesn't find himself in the pages of a book, he will go looking for himself in all the wrong places." I thought of how as a child I didn't see myself in the pages of the books that I loved - the characters were all fair skinned and lived in snowy places. It made it hard for me to believe that I could become what I dreamed to be - an author. So when I write, I always try to remember that I am holding up a mirror to a young person somewhere - and my dearest wish is that they like what they see or at the least see the infinite possibility that waits ahead.

Thank you so much for having me.



Doret said...

I love Tall Story, it was worth waiting an extra year.

MissA said...

There should be aculture clash genre, it's written about semi-often.

I love the 5 books that turned you into a writer question. I adored Little Women too and I reaad it in 5th grade and you're right the language is very archaic but I chock it up to my love of historical books about girls/women (Jane Austen, Bronte sisters, etc)