Ali read a chapter from the book to us, and then chatted at length with questions from the audience about his inspirations and influences, and in particular – the use of magical elements in the story.
He loves fairy tales, particularly the sad, dark ones of Hans Christian Andersen, which always show that there is a price to be paid for benefitting from magic. He also wanted the magic in his book to be a natural extension of the character’s lives, giving the example of Kafka’s Metamorphosis in which a bureaucrat wakes up transformed into an insect and essentially carries on with his life! His advice was to be careful with magic – to work out your rules for incorporating it, to consider up and down sides, and to keep it natural.
Finding it hard to pitch his book at first so that it wasn’t pigeonholed as genre fantasy, (which it is not!), he latched upon The Time Traveller’s Wife as a comparison which successfully opened the doors. Ali proved to be an entertaining and articulate speaker who had interesting and mature things to say about his craft – and he’s only in his twenties! Novel two is in the works – I for one can’t wait.
Now for the Giveaway … For your chance to win a signed copy of the paperback of ‘The Girl With Glass Feet’ -please leave a comment telling me your favourite fairy tale – are you a traditionalist – Grimms, Andersen or Perrault perhaps? Or do you prefer a more modern style – maybe one of the ‘magic realists’? … Comments by Friday lunchtime please, I will send worldwide.
P.S. Hello to Vikki who went to uni with Ali. We’ve crossed paths on the internet before, and it turns out that we both live in Abingdon. It’s a small world sometimes – and it’s always lovely to meet virtual friends in real life.