Sunday 11 April 2021

Sunday Guest Spot - Barbara Gaskell Denvil

Continuing our Sunday Series
of taking a look at some fabulous authors!

Hello Barbara, welcome to our Discovering Diamonds Guest Spot. Along with my readers and visitors I love to hear from authors who write wonderful stories. There’s nothing better than curling up with a good book,  box of chocs and glass of wine to hand!

Q. Would you like to tell us a little bit about yourself...
A. I was born a month before World War II ended so I feel about two hundred years old, and unfortunately I’m, losing my sight so that brings some problems and a good deal of laughter as well. There’s very little normal about my life, and I love the varied experiences, the eccentricity and the travel. My greatest passion is my family – three daughters including identical twins and now there is a large parcel of grandchildren and great grandchildren of all ages. Naturally I totally adore writing and heaven only knows what I would have done with myself over the years without my books to escape into.

Q. Where do you live?
A. I’m in Southern Spain at the time of writing this (January 2021) for a six month holiday from the winter freeze, but I have in fact recently returned to England – after twenty years living in Australia amongst their wildly gorgeous variety of animals and birds.

Q. If you had a choice to live anywhere – where would it be?
A. Someone would have to invent a new country for me with the wildlife of Australia, India and Africa, the climate of California, the scenery of Southern Italy, the delightful friendliness of parts of India and Spain, the food from France, England and Greece, prices of India, the houses of America’s New England, or the wonderful old French Chateaux, the occasional mists of Scottish islands, the culture and history of England, with the jungles of Borneo and South America to explore.
 When someone kindly tells me where that country is, I shall move at once.

Q. Modern house, old cottage, castle or something else?
A. A bit of everything please. Probably the old cottage, but with a wonderful annexe that has all the modern extras including loads of light. I adore castles but they aren’t too cosy to live in.

Q. Cat,  dog or budgie?
A. Oh dear – here we go again. I want three kittens and a puppy, a golden eagle, a harpy eagle, a small owl, a couple of macaws and several parrots, possibly a toucan and 4 or 5 peacocks. A tiger cub is essential, but preferably one that would grow up very slowly. Maybe two cheetahs would be safer. A lynx or two definitely. An aye-aye, some African wild dogs, and a few lizards. A large aquarium would be nice, and there are probably some more I’ve forgotten. And – oh yes – a very large garden to keep them all.

Q. Are you a ‘dining room for dinner’, or a ‘tray on your lap in front of the TV’ person?
A. I’m usually sloppy and balance a plate on my lap. I love sitting to eat around a table when there’s a larger group of friends.

Q. TV preferences – documentary, drama, comedy, soap or thriller?
A. Everything except the soaps. A good drama, but Fantasy is perhaps the best, although comedy over the years has hooked me and brought such delicious happiness. And depending on the subject, I frequently lose myself in a good documentary.

Q. What was your first published novel about?
A. Part historical drama, mystery, and partially dark fantasy. FAIR WEATHER was the book – and is still one of my favourites.

Q. What was your last novel about?
A. I have been writing a historical fantasy series called CORNUCOPIA, and my last publication was number three in the series, The Dunes. This is a fantasy world but based very largely on the English medieval with a huge cast of characters, and fast moving drama.

Q. Do you write in one genre or several?
A. Too many. My imagination refuses to follow straight lines.

Q. Have you ever considered exploring a totally different genre?
A.  Constantly, yes.

Q. If you could, which two of your characters would you like to invite to spend an afternoon with you?
A. An interesting question, and hard to answer. I am in love with every character as I write them. Perhaps I’d choose Vespasian the male protagonist from Fair Weather, and Freya, the female protagonist from Cornucopia.
But I’d welcome all of them if they’d like to pop along.

Q. Where would you go / what would you do?
A. I think I’d take them all on a summer cruise around the Mediterranean. Luxury cabins of course.

Q. How do you prefer to travel? Plane, boat, car?
A. Having lived for some years in Australia which involves 24 hour flights, I have entirely gone off flying. The car is fine and that’s my normal preference. But I can’t drive anymore because of my failing eyesight so I need my lovely daughter to help. I lived for many years on a yacht in the Mediterranean, and that was the most gorgeous way of life. Such an open, peaceful and friendly way to live. Sailing into the sunset and at night with a million stars as your companion is something I will never forget.

Q. You are out for a walk. You see a chap sitting on a wall, looking right fed up – but there’s something odd about him... What? And what  do you do?
A. I would pause first, and then walk up, to ask him if he is alright.
Expecting a gentle ‘Yes, fine thank you,’ or a more pathetic ‘I feel quite sick, can you call an ambulance?’, I am naturally very surprised as he turns eagle eyes on me, tries to shake his shoulders, and says, “I’d appreciate some help, miss. You see, I’m a Golden Eagle and I was flying high, heading south and looking for a mate. But when I saw the river below, I decided to land and go fishing.”
“So what on earth happened,?” I ask, intrigued. 
“I have no real idea,” sighs the man. “I’ve lost my wings and my beak, and I don’t know who I am anymore. I can’t go fishing in these clothes, and no beautiful female eagle will agree to be my mate now.”
I felt extremely sorry for him, and wonder what I can do, so my suggestion is quite boring but reasonably practical. “I think you’d better come home with me,” I say. “I’ll cook you some salmon and teach you how to be human. I bet you’ll find a mate soon enough. You certainly have an interesting story to tell the girls.”

We have a long-running Radio programme here in the UK called Desert Island Discs on which celebrities talk about their life and select eight of their favourite discs... so changing that slightly...

Q. If you were shipwrecked on a desert island, what eight books would you want to find left in an abandoned hut? (There’s already a Bible, the Quran, and the complete works of Shakespeare)

1. The complete Lord of the Rings
2. The Once and Future King 
3. Dorothy Dunnet’s Lymond Chronicles
4. Devil’s Cub by Georgette Heyer
5. Anything by Neil Gaiman
6. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
7. Anything by S. Fowler Wright
8. Something by me that I can rewrite and make better
The trouble is, I have adored so many books over my centuries of passionate reading and there must be thousands I’d want – the absolute favourites are hard to pick. Besides, I’ve forgotten half their titles by now.

Q. What sort of island would you prefer, and why? (e.g. Desert Island... Hebridian Island...)
A. Something a bit lush, hot without too much tropical rain – but with plenty of animals to keep me occupied. Any chance of electricity and a computer please? A couple of take-away restaurants would help because otherwise I’d be dead in a fortnight. I’d never kill any of those animals for dinner except perhaps the occasional cockroach. [Helen: Hmm That's stretching the luxury option a bit Barbara!]

Q. You would be allowed one luxury item – what would you want it to be? (a boat or something to escape on isn’t allowed.)
A. Definitely a friend. I lived alone for many years, but not anymore thank you.
[Well... I'll allow you an automated restaurant with an endless supply of food because you can't see to cook, and as the island is full of fluffy animals I'm sure you'll befriend one very quickly, so alright your luxury can be electricity and a computer.]

Universal Links for ‘Historical Mysteries Collection’

Blessop’s Wife:

The Flame Eater:

Sumerford’s Autumn:

The Deception of Consequences:

The Summer of Discontent:

Historical fantasy 

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