Writers Inspiring Change: Tell us about yourself!
Gemma: I’m a bit of an introvert, to be honest! Books were always a friend I could turn to when I didn’t have any answers; if I wanted a quiet few minutes to escape to another world I knew I could always pick up a book. I learned to read before school and always enjoyed the freedom of writing; I could be anything, do anything and go anywhere, simply by writing or reading about a new place. I try to look at things from several points of view, but I must confess, if I find something boring, I’ll look at it from the most illogical side and decide that’s the way it should be! Quite often it’s helped me in life, being able to take a step back and laugh at what’s happening, find a new view and learn from it. I try not to take anything seriously, unless I absolutely have to and even then, it’s a grudging acceptance! I’m a proud Hufflepuff and like to think I’m a classic Hufflepuff. I treasure honesty, loyalty and fun, and know that friends can be the make or break of a day or even a life. I have a love of music and animals, and I’m a servent to two house cats who have me, and my long-suffering partner, wrapped around their little toes! I listen to most
types of music, regardless of artist, because as far as I’m concerned, if it’s an enjoyable piece of music, I’ll enjoy it.
What inspired you to start writing?
Gemma: I always loved writing full-length and short stories and never really considered doing anything with them. As the years passed, I started writing a blog, a simple hobby that I used to try and change peoples minds. It touched on taboo subjects and general life commentary, eventually gaining fans all over the world. I still add to it sometimes. But it was my diagnosis that made me really knuckle down to it. I was diagnosed with anxiety, PTSD and depression and I realised that my writing calmed me down. I told people some of the ideas I had, especially a book series I’d been throwing around my head for a few
years and found that the genre it occupied didn’t really exist. I wrote the first book and found such pleasure and fulfillment in it that I had to write another. Eventually I found that I was right, I HAD always wanted to be a writer, I’d just never realised someone ordinary could do it. Especially a woman with mental health issues! Let’s face it, everyone likes a congratulatory pat on the head!
Is there a message or inspiration in your book(s)?
Gemma: I try to change people’s minds. My main series, of which the first two are already self-published, have been praised by the majority of people, of all ages and genders. I try to make people think for themselves, rather than rely on what they ‘know’ to be truth. For example, everyone knows that trolls are violent and evil, but what if they’re not. If a troll were a hungry lion, people would accept that it’s an animal, that it’s hungry and in pain, so of course it’s going to be aggressive. But what if we could talk to that lion? Find out why it’s so angry? I genuinely believe that violence solves almost nothing and should only ever be fallen on as a last resort, but that if we have to come to that resort, some line of communication has failed somewhere. Communication is such an undervalued quality of humanity and we’ve been using stories and songs to tell each other news and information for years. Why should the 21st century human be any different? I try to make people think a little harder, see things from a lot of points of view. I also try to scare them a little, because that’s just fun!
Tell us about your book.
Gemma: The Dun an Doras series is a set of folklore thrillers. Each book has it’s own storyline within the over-arcing storyline that threads through the whole book. I wanted female characters who didn’t just cry and get kidnapped, I wanted male characters who didn’t just think with their fists. I have older characters who help and not just with making tea and listening to drama. I like to think its got everything; Humour, dark humour, horror, depth, equality, characters you can relate to or at least understand and villains you can really despise! I’ve been told that my influences can be spotted at times, with touches of Neil Gaiman, Sir Terry Pratchett, Alan Moore, Garth Ennis and James
Herbert. Of course, because it features myth, folklore and legend, some have spotted the JK Rowling edge to it as well! (But granted, I am a fan!)