To celebrate the end of my Fairy Tale Week (I do hope you've enjoyed it!) I Have the great pleasure of introducing Zoe Marriott to the blog today. Zoe is a great writer or fantasy and fairy tale re-tellings, so I'm thrilled to have her here today. You should have already read my review of the fantastic Shadows on the Moon, published in July.
If you'd like to know more about Zoe, please do visit the following sites:
Zoe on Facebook
Zoe on Twitter
Zoe's YouTube channel
Over to you, Zoe...
Can you tell me a little something about yourself?
I'm a writer of YA fantasies (you can find information here about my books The Swan Kingdom, Daughter of the Flames and Shadows on the Moon) and I'm in my late twenties. I love reading and writing more than anything - but I also love singing loudly, dancing around my living room, tramping bad temperedly through fields while muttering to myself, and playing with my nieces. I have a spaniel called Finn who I'm terribly soppy over, and two cats called Hero and Echo who I also love very dearly. I live on the East Coast of England, and at the moment I'm a full-time writer thanks to a grant from The Royal Literary Fund.
Did you have a role model growing up?Not a real life one, no! I had many fictional role models, though. Mostly these came from the novels of Robin McKinley, Tamora Pierce and Diana Wynne Jones. I wish that Terry Pratchett had started writing YA novels when I was a teenager, because Tiffany Aching would have been my heroine.
Who do you look up to now?So many women. I'm really lucky, I think, that are are so many awesome woman in the world right now, fighting to make their voices heard. Tamora Pierce, who practically invented YA fantasy for girls and continues to write unashamedly Feminist books. Sarah Rees Brennan (even though she's younger than I am!) for kicking homphobic/misogynistic *ss on her blog pretty much every week. N.K. Jemisin - an adult fantasy author - for educating readers in the funniest and most fascinating way via her involvement in RaceFail. Jean Kilbourne for her pioneering work on women's images in media and advertising. And more recently, Jenna Lyons, for painting her son's toenails pink and standing by it!
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Oh no - this is so boring, but I wanted to be a writer! Honestly, pretty much from the first time I read a book. Not to say that I didn't *also* want to ride ponies, be a ballerina and a pop-star, but always a ballerina/pop-star who also wrote books.
Tell me something about the women in your life who have been an influence on you?
Well, it's tough really. I have a mother and an older sister, but the way they mostly influenced me (as the youngest girl in the family) was to do the opposite of what THEY did. For example, my sister and mother never wear make-up or high heels, and they've both always worn their hair short. So I started putting on make-up at age eleven, wore the highest high-heels I could find as soon as I could walk in them, and grew my hair and dyed it all kinds of colours. I've been a Goth, a Punk, a girlie girl and a hippie, all in an effort to be as different as I could.
When I got older and made friends, I found that the same thing happened. I always needed to be different - otherwise I felt like I was giving in somehow by conforming. I've never really known anyone in real life that I would allow to influence me. But I've been influenced by so many writers and so many fictional characters! I've listed many of them under the next question.
Who is your favourite fictional character? And why?
That's a mean question! I can't pick just one - I'll have to make a list. I love Jane Eyre for her unflinching integrity and ability to be true to herself. I love Lizzie Bennet for being able to laugh at the world and herself. I love Alanna from Tamora Pierce's Lioness Rampant series for being able to transition between male and female personalities with ease. I love Sabriel and Lirael from Garth Nix's Abhorsen books for the downright way they are willing to sacrifice themselves for their duty. I love Sophie from Diana Wynne Jones' Howl's Moving Castle for breaking free of everyone's expectations and doing what no one else could.
What were you like as a teenager and how did you cope with all the changes that occurred?
I was...difficult, I think. I was horribly bullied at school and not very happy at home, so I closed up emotionally and lived inside the personna that my bullies thrust on me. I spent a very long time believing that I was introverted and freakish and just couldn't get on with people. I stopped trying. I self-harmed and punished myself, and trudged through the days in a grey haze. I only came alive when I was alone and no one could attack me. I coped by escaping into reading and writing, and I really think that books saved my life, mentally and physically. Reading about characters who were as isolated and different as me - for example Harry Crewe from The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, or Kathleen from Diana Wynne Jone's Dogsbody - was the only evidence I had that I wasn't the only person in the whole world who felt that way.
If you had any advice for yourself as a teenager, what would you say?
It's not you - it's them. There's nothing wrong with you, and you don't have to be ashamed of who you are or the way you feel or the things you think.
Of the issues and concerns that women are faced with today, what's the area you most like reading/writing about?
I'm not sure I really LIKE reading or writing about women's issues and concerns, especially contemporary ones, because I wish that they didn't exist. I wish we lived in a world where everyone who isn't a straight white male wasn't constantly having to fight to be taken seriously and given basic human rights. I do like it when authors tackle the idea that woman have to get married to get a happy ending - I loved Kristin Cashore's Graceling for that reason - and I like it when I read books where women and girls redefine 'femininity' to mean 'strength, compassion, integrity, bravery' rather than something more to do with long hair and frilly dresses (not that long hair and frilly dresses aren't awesome too!). Most of all I like to read, and try to write, books where women and their stories are treated with respect and accorded importance, whether they run into battle screaming or spend their lives looking after their families.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
If anyone would like to ask me questions about writing or publishing, they can visit my blog at http://thezoe-trope.blogspot.com and leave them in the comments. I always do my best to answer! You can also get more in depth information about me and my books at www.zoemarriott.com.
Thanks for having me, Clover!