Today on Meet the Author I’m delighted to be talking to June Molloy who talks to us about her new book, first editions of the Harry Potter books (so jealous!) and why she’d have an animal companion on a desert island…..
Middle Grade; Memoir; Cooking; Self-help
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I’m originally from Ireland but I currently live in Lithuania, where I live deep in the countryside, surrounded by forests and fields. I grow vegetables and try to make most of my food from scratch using local ingredients. It’s a lot of work, but I really love it.
What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but I don’t think I ever imagined myself writing a book! I actually did a lot of technical writing over many years of my career. Then, in 2013, I took voluntary redundancy from my job and my husband and I bought a camper van and began a tour of Europe. I decided to start a blog to chronical our journey and share it with others. Then, when we arrived here in Lithuania, the blog evolved as we settled into our new life here. I found I loved the process of writing and of sharing these stories with others. Over time, I felt the urge to write something longer.
How many books have you written and published?
So far, I have written and published three books, all in different genres. The first book was a spin-off of my blog. It’s a memoir/cookbook about how I learned to cook traditional Lithuanian dishes. It also includes lots of my photos of the Lithuania countryside. I didn’t think it would be a big seller because it’s in such a niche area, but it’s actually very popular! My novel, Guardian of Giria, was inspired by the countryside and wildlife around my home. It’s an animal forest fantasy featuring a variety of animals. (More on that below!) And the third book is again a spin-off from my blog. It’s a very short guide to self-publishing a book, based on my experiences of publishing my memoir and novel.
Which book, out of all the books you have written, is your favourite and why?
Gosh, that’s like picking a favourite child! I would probably have to say Guardian of Giria as I absolutely love the story and had such fun writing it. I now tour this book to schools and libraries around Lithuania and I love teaching the kids about the real-life wildlife that inspired the story.
How do you choose the names of your characters?
Naming the characters was tough work! There are over seventy characters in the book, covering about ten different animal species. To help readers keep track, I tried to give each species names with similar traits. For example, all the fox names have four letters – two vowels and two consonants. All the female boars have Russian names. All the stags have posh English names. All the beavers have names that end with “is” – like Doris and Francis. A few of the names are borrowed from either Irish or Lithuanian, like “Patinas”, which is the Lithuanian word for “stag” and “Broc” which is the Irish word for badger. In some cases, I tried to use Latin names – but J.K. Rowling has used them all!
Which of your characters would you want to be stranded on an island with, and why?
I’m a dog lover, so for companionship it would have to be one of the canines – a wolf or a fox. I’m steering towards Indigo, the more placid of the two wolves. I think once we got to know each other he would keep me safe as well as keeping me company.
Who is your favourite author and which of their books is your favourite, and why?
My favourite author is definitely J.K. Rowling. I just LOVE the Harry Potter series and all the spin-offs. I have hardback, first edition copies of all of the books. I even camped outside bookshops waiting for them to be released! She has done such a super job of drawing each character that you really feel you know them. The world-building is brilliant and must have taken forever, and on top of that you have this wonderful and complex story. It’s no wonder she’s worth a fortune! If I was to pick a favourite from the series, it would be “The Half-Blood Prince”. I think it’s the most well-written of the series, with a very tight plot, great character development and no wasted words. (Unlike “Order of the Phoenix”, which had a lot of wasted words!)
What is the first thing you can remember writing?
I wrote a song called “Stars and Moons” when I was about six. It wasn’t very complex, but I was so proud of myself that I handwrote the lyrics into my mam’s hardback book of song lyrics. (Back in those days, you couldn’t just find lyrics on the internet and print them – you had to listen to the song and write them down! My mam had a book where she kept all the lyrics of her favourite songs.)
What other jobs have you done other than being an author?
Lots of them! I studied Hotel Management and worked in that industry for many years. Then I decided I wanted a 9-5 job, so I did a course in Software Testing and spent the next ten years doing that, then progressed into Project Management. At that point, my company was downsizing and offered me a redundancy package that was too good to ignore. For the last few years, I’ve been doing much more creative things – growing food, writing books and taking photos. I also do some content writing for websites and newspapers.
If you could get in a time machine and had one chance to travel, where would you go? (Backwards or forwards!)
Ooh, that’s a hard one. It would definitely be backwards – I’m more than a little concerned about what the future holds for this little planet of ours! I think I would like to go way back, maybe 10,000 years, to see how our hunter-gatherer ancestors did things. I like the idea of living in small, nomadic communities and taking only what you need from the world around you. Not sure how long I’d survive without a coffee, though!
If you could have one conversation with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
The person that comes to mind is my mam. She’s been gone over ten years – we’d have a lot to catch up on!
What are your favourite things to do?
Quiet, creative things, outdoors if possible. I love to read, write and take photos. I also love working in my garden. I can’t afford to travel much these days, but I do love to sit into my car and go somewhere new. Someday, I’ll write a bestseller that will enable me to do all of these things full-time!
What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you?
I, myself, am very strange, which means that most things seem normal to me! As such, I don’t have anything strange to report.
If you could give your younger writing self any advice what would it be?
I’m not sure I’d tell her anything, either about writing or about anything else. Life is a journey and everything we experience contributes to who we are. I’m happy with where I’ve ended up – if I’d done things differently, who knows where I’d be and what books I would have written.
Name one book you think everyone should read?!
I don’t think such a book exists. Like everything, reading is subjective. Just because I enjoy a book doesn’t mean you will, or vice versa. I strongly believe that life is too short to ever read a book you’re not enjoying. I can tell you about books and authors that I love, but I couldn’t possibly pick one book that I think everyone ought to read.
And finally, tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it?
Guardian of Giria is a story of friendship, courage and survival set in a large European forest. This animal fantasy is suitable for older children or tweens (9-15).
Felix, a grumpy wild boar and undisputed king of the forest, is annoyed to discover an intruder has visited his private clearing. The only traces are a strange scent and an even stranger set of footprints —footprints that appear to have been left by a dog with only two feet. A few days later, a young fox cub goes missing and her frantic mother asks Felix for help. Felix investigates and discovers two enormous wolves. When he learns of their hunting capabilities from a travelling raven, Felix realises the residents of Giria Wood are now in great danger and immediately devises a plan to guard the animals and eliminate the wolves.
What follows is an exciting adventure as the animals band together to protect and defend against this new threat. The plot involves a varied cast of characters, including a group of misfit pre-adult boars, a family of foxes, a family of beavers, a knowledgeable raven and an assembled group of magnificent red stags who would really rather be preening themselves for the annual rut than dealing with wolves.
Where to buy: Amazon
Thanks June for this fabulous interview. A lot of resonated with me so much. I too, would definitely choose to take my dog to a desert island (she’s my bestie!), I’m an absolutely massive fan of Harry Potter (watching it as we speak!) and I’m SO jealous that you have first editions….although well deserved if you camped out to get them! I’m also jealous that you live in the middle of a forest…..it sounds heavenly.
If you have any questions/comments for June then give her a shout.
Have a great day lovelies.