Inge: Hello! Welcome to Authors in Wonderland, where we invite authors over for a Mad Hatter’s tea party and chat with them. Today’s company goes by the name of Louise Gornall, author of Under Rose-Tainted Skies, a YA contemporary about Norah, who has agoraphobia and OCD. You can find my very enthusiastic review of it here. Hello, Louise! How are you?
Louise: Hi! I am very well, thank you. It’s wonderful to be here. Thank you for having me over.
Inge: What kind of tea and cake can I get you?
Louise: Hmmm… it’s going to have to be English breakfast tea; white, with two sugars, please, and a piece of chocolate fudge cake 🙂
Inge: I hope your tea is hot and your cookies crispy, because we’re going to dive right in. How would you describe Under Rose-Tainted Skies in three words?
Louise: Raw. Intense. Honest.
Inge: Norah is largely based on your own experiences — was she also the most fun to write? Which Hogwarts House would she be in?
Louise: I so badly want to say yes, but the honest answer is no. It was a struggle to write her, soul destroying, even, to delineate all the pieces of me that I’d spent the best part of a decade trying to hide.
Ooh! I just had this chat with another reader… I’m torn between Gryffindor and Ravenclaw. I feel like Norah is a little bit of both.
Inge: Which scene was the hardest to write?
Louise: Exploring self harm and the reasoning behind it was very difficult. I took it out of the book several times because it made me feel overexposed, but after chatting with a friend, I realised it was necessary, mostly because Norah cuts for reasons that you rarely see talked about in mainstream media.
Inge: How many cups of coffee have been consumed in the process of writing URTS?
Louise: Thousands. Millions. The limit does not exist.
Inge: What’s your favourite quote from the book?
Louise: “Your mind adapts to what worse is. Suddenly, that thing that seemed so terrifying at first, is dwarfed by the next challenge that comes your way. But you adapt again and again and again, until you find yourself fearless.”
ON MENTAL ILLNESS
Aly: You’re really open about your mental health. How hard was it to speak openly about mental illness before you started talking about it online?
Louise: So. Hard. I never spoke about it. I hated it. I was embarrassed by it. I didn’t understand it. I resented it. I would rather have lied to my family and friends than voiced what was happening in my head.
Aly: Do you think mental illness is romanticised a lot?
Louise: I get cautious about the word romanticised because I think its definition has gotten a little lost. In all honesty, as I understand the definition, I’ve rarely seen mental illness romanticised in YA.
Aly: What are your thoughts on Tumblr and the way mental illness is portrayed on there?
Louise: Confession? I don’t use Tumblr. I have an account that I’ve been on a couple of times, and I have tried to work it, but I get so lost.
Aly: With everything happening around the world at the moment, there’s been a lot of debate between staying quiet and speaking about it on the internet. Do you agree that self-care is important in these difficult times?
Louise: Always. Self care is extremely important. You alone know your limits, your comfort zone, your capacity to deal. It’s not unreasonable to want to protect yourself.
ON BOOKS AND WRITING
Aly: What’s it like being a full-time author?
Louise: Wonderful. I love it. I drink way too much caffeine and don’t get anywhere near enough sleep, but I wouldn’t want to be anything else.
Inge: How often do you get distracted by the internet while writing?
Louise: Not that oft… Oh! Look. A Buzzfeed quiz to discover which Disney prince I’m going to marry…
Aly: What’s your top advice for aspiring writers?
Louise: Ugh! It’s kind of cliche, but don’t give up. All it takes is one yes.
Inge: Which five fictional characters would you like to have a tea party with?
Louise: I’m going to say Edward Cullen because I’m still in love with him — don’t judge me. Katniss and Peeta because they are some of the most complex characters in YA, plus, they can keep the brooding vampire in check. Jamie Fraser, he’s from the adult ‘Outlander’ series. He wears a kilt, and I’m crushing on him kinda hard right now. Lennie and her best friend Sarah from The Sky is Everywhere because they are two of my most favourite characters of ever, and their dynamic is hilarious.
Aly: Top five books you’d recommend?
Louise: The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson. This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman.
Aly: What are your writing inspirations?
Louise: Romantic movies. Books. Articles. Monty Python.
Inge: Who’s your favourite villain (may also be from a movie or TV series)?
Louise: Of ever? Hmmmm… let’s go with the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. That guy used to scare the living hell out of me. He still gives me chills.
Inge: Is there anything you can tell us about your next book?
Louise: Well, it’s not been sold yet, so it’s still very much subject to change, but I’ve been working on a story about a disabled girl who is struggling to accept her body after intensive spinal surgery. She’s trying to get comfortable in her skin again… enter: a bully, a boy, and the pressure to have sex in her senior year of high school.
Inge: Your protagonist, Norah, dreamt of going to France. What is your dream destination?
Louise: Well, I love France, but my ultimate goal is to get to America.
Aly: What would you say to your teenage self?
Louise: It’s not always going to be this way. Give it time. You’ll see.
Aly: If you could have any animal in the world as a pet, what would it be?
Louise: A unicorn!!! Obvs!!! 😉
Aly: What was the name of your first pet?
Louise: We had the sweetest, little black dog. Her name was Sally.
Aly: What were your first three jobs?
Louise: I waited tables…that’s really all there was before agoraphobia got me in its steely grip.
Inge: Have you ever met someone who’s left you starstruck?
Louise: When Courtney Summers first tweeted me on Twitter, there *may* been a little flailing. Okay. A lot. There was a lot of flailing.
Aly: Is there anything you collect?
Louise: I collect thimbles.
Aly: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
Louise: I walked away from a bad marriage. That took a kind of strength I didn’t realise I had.
Inge: Whew, that was quite the round! Thank you so much, Louise, for allowing us to bombard you with all of our questions. We think you’re awesome, your hair is kickass, and Under Rose-Tainted Skies is truly a great and important book.
Louise: I love you guys! Thank you so much!