My Winter Memories by Jess Butterworth 

Hello everybody!

Welcome to the FIRST day of blogmas! Today, I’m massively excited to welcome Jess Butterworth, whose book Running on the Roof of the World is one of my very favourites of 2017 (and if I had to choose from my top 3, this would be the one I’d pick). Over to Jess, with her beautiful post about her winter memories. 

I love winter and the frosty mornings where grass crunches under your feet and silvery spider webs cling to hedgerows. 

One of my earliest memories of winter is getting snowed in at my grandma’s house in the Himalayas. There was so much snow my parents had to dig tunnels for me to be able to walk through it. The tunnels were deep and I couldn’t see over the top of them. I was surrounded by glittery white snow and it was magical. That year will always be remembered as the year of The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. 

Other stories I adored curling up with in winter months included The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson, The Elves and the Shoemaker by Brothers Grimm and The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde. 

From the age of 16, I worked weekends in a vintage furniture and gift shop in a medieval granary building in Bradford-on-Avon, next to a tithe barn. There was no heating and in winter I remember buying a pair of boots 2 sizes too big so that I could fit my thick socks into them. The owner was the key keeper for the tithe barn and some evenings I got to bolt and lock shut the creaky giant wooden doors of the barn, alone by torchlight. Each time, long shadows would creep across the wooden beams and my footsteps would echo off the stones, and I’d leave wanting to read Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. 

The shop transformed into The Christmas Shop every November, filled with orange clove candles and cinnamon pinecones; multi-coloured trees and twinkling decorations. Customers would enter as we were setting it up, nailing garlands to the walls and draping fairy lights, and back out quickly, saying, ‘Oh no, it’s too early for Christmas…’

I always understood what they meant, but I loved it anyway; every day I would come home covered in glitter with the urge to write wintry stories about fairies, woodland creatures and magic. During my last year there I discovered The Snow Merchant by Sam Gayton and read it veraciously during my lunch breaks. 

This year I’m spending Christmas somewhere completely new, in Acadiana in Louisiana. Christmas pudding will be replaced with pecan pie and I’ll be reading the Cajun Night Before Christmas by Trosclair and James Rice, where Father Christmas is dressed in muskrat pelts and pulled along in a boat by alligators.  

I’ll also have wintry reads from some of my favourite authors keeping me company, including Emma Carroll’s The Snow Sister, Mimi Thebo’s Dreaming the Bear and Winter Magic curated by Abi Elphinstone. 

Thank you so much to Jess for writing this post. I can personally recommend both the Emma Carroll and Winter Magic; and I may be rereading both too! What are your favourite winter memories? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl 

Amy xxx
 

Advertisements

Author Interview: Jess Butterworth 

Hello everyone!

Today, I’m incredibly excited to welcome another author for a Q&A; the incredible Jess Butterworth, whose stunning debut Running on the Roof of the World I absolutely adored (you can read my review in this post). Onto the questions!

Hi Jess. Welcome to Golden Books Girl, and thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview with me!

My pleasure! I’m delighted to be here.

1. To start off, can you sum up Running on the Roof the World for anyone who hasn`t read it yet in 5 words?

Contemporary Himalayan adventure, featuring yaks!

2. I absolutely loved the setting of Tibet in the book. What inspired you to set the book there? Is anything in the book based on your own experience of living in the Himalayas?

Absolutely. My father was a trek leader and we lived on a remote foothill above Dharamshala, where the Dalai Lama and a Tibetan community in exile is settled. My mother’s family lived in London, where I was born. Growing up, I would always write about the Himalayas when I was in the UK and missing the mountains or my dad and grandparents who still lived there.

I wanted to introduce readers to events I care about deeply, but really it wasn’t as planned out as that. Tash’s voice appeared in my head one day and wouldn’t leave.

The vulture tree is based on a tree I saw about ten years ago, with many vultures perched on its branches. It’s something I’ve never seen again on my visits since, and an image that has stayed with me.

Another real life moment I drew from was when my sister and I once walked down the mountain at dusk and saw a bear up a tree. Needless to say, we backed away slowly and luckily left the bear undisturbed. My sister is a singer and from that moment onwards she would always sing at the top of her lungs as we walked over the foothills. We were taught never to sneak up on the leopards and bears; you’re safer if they can hear you coming and will choose to get out of the way.

The glacier scene came from a time I was trekking with my Dad and we camped by a glacier. Later, we used our sleeping mats to slide down the glacier. It was fun, but bumpy!

During my research trip, when I was close to the India/Tibet border, after acclimatising, I went up to 18380 feet, and very much felt the effects of being at such a high altitude. So that made it into the book too!

3. The difficult political issues in Tibet are very prominent throughout Running on the Roof of the World, as Tash`s parents are arrested by the Chinese soldiers for being rebels. Was it a challenge to explore such a brutal situation and still aim the book at middle grade readers?

I definitely spent time making sure that the book was truthful to its setting whilst still appealing to middle-grade readers. I wanted to write a story that was relevant to today and it was important to me to include those moments as they’re grounded in real events. Writing in first person helped and allowed the reader to see the events through Tash’s eyes, whilst still giving a sense of the bigger political picture. I included moments of lightness and laughter, and an overall theme of hope, and I focused on the universal aspects to make it relatable to younger readers.

4. What was your favourite scene to write in the book?
So many! I loved everything about writing about the mountains! Sliding down glaciers was one of my favourite, hiding with Eve, and the ending.

5. Speaking of writing, do you have any unusual writing habits? What are your writing routines like?

In the past few years, I’ve had many different jobs at the same time as being a writer, from working as a bid-coordinator, assisting in a vintage furniture shop, to nannying. In between them I was often travelling to and from India which means that my writing habits changed regularly. They mainly consisted of writing wherever and whenever I could! I do know that I work best in the mornings, when I can wake up and write straight away. I like to start a new idea in a notebook before transferring it to my computer.

Right now, for the first time ever, I have an office and office assistants, Luna and Bo Bo, the Maine Coon kittens, which is exciting.

IMG_20170727_201951IMG_20170727_201942IMG_20170727_201947

6.  Do you have any tips or advice for writers reading this interview?

Read as much as you can. If you’re stuck for inspiration, think back to the things you loved doing at the age at your protagonist or the things you feel passionately about. So much of writing is re-writing; Running on the Roof of the World ent through at least ten full drafts. Practice patience; everything takes a long time! Most importantly, don’t give up! Everyone has rejections.

7. What other activities do you enjoy apart from writing?

Trekking, dancing, reading, camping and being outside, being with friends, yoga, watching live music, travelling.

8. What has been your  exciting moment of being an author so far?
The book launch for sure! I got to see it in a Waterstones window display and gave my first public reading.

9.  If you could have written any book by another author, what would it be and why?
Matilda by Roald Dahl because it has remained one of my favourite books.

10. Finally, before we go on to the quickfire questions, are you able to say anything about your next book? I can`t wait to read it after your amazing debut!

Aw, thank you! It’s called When the Mountains Roared and is inspired by my Grandma who smuggled a kangaroo joey out of Australia. It’s an adventure set in the mountains of India, about a girl who is determined to protect the wild leopards of the mountain from poachers.

QUICKFIRE

Can you give us three random facts about you?-

In the Australian outback, I got bitten by a brown snake and airlifted to hospital.

I have three younger sisters.

I edited Running on the Roof of the World while I was in India, during monsoon. I was often enclosed in a cloud. If I opened a window, the cloud would drift inside. My pillow went mouldy.

Favourite animal?-

Yaks and leopards (couldn’t choose!)

Favourite chocolate bar?-

Yesterday someone gave me pomegranate dark chocolate and it is my new favourite thing!

What`s your Hogwarts house?-

Gryffindor

Best book you`ve read this year?

The Huntress: Sea by Sarah Driver

img_2272

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this interview as much as I enjoyed writing the questions and organising the post with Jess, who has been an utter delight (and was kind enough to send me the gorgeous photos throughout the post to use)

See you soon with a new post 

Amy xxx