In celebration of the David Gemmell Award long-lists being published, Gollancz is thrilled to be running a series of interviews-in-sixty-seconds with as many long-listed authors as we can get our hands on. Today we’re talking to Kit Berry, the critically acclaimed author of the Stonewylde series which began with a self-contained trilogy (Magus of Stonewylde, Moondance at Stonewylde and Solstice at Stonewylde) and now continues the story of this exceptional hidden world in Shadows at Stonewylde (which is shortlisted for the David Gemmell Legend Award for Best Novel). We caught up with her, and took a moment to ask a few questions . . .
Congratulations on being long-listed for the David Gemmell Awards! Can you tell us, in a few words, why any readers who are new to your work should rush out and read it?
Anyone at all interested in standing stones, Green Man mythology and ancient festivals would like Stonewylde, and anyone who just enjoys a good story that’s not necessarily classic fantasy. Shadows at Stonewylde is the fourth title in the series but you could start with this one and treat the first three as prequels. Or rush out and buy them all. Please note, though, that there are no swords!
Who was your first favourite author?
Enid Blyton and/or Beatrix Potter. I’m being honest here.
Who would you cite as your influences?
In that vein, The Magic Faraway Tree and scary Mr McGregor from Peter Rabbit. And the terrifying owl in Squirrel Nutkin. Seriously, I love the concept of natural magic and a feeling of menace. As a youngster, Dennis Wheatley was my forbidden under the bed-clothes read, and I loved the Brontes and Stephen King. Then I did an English degree and didn’t read anything for a long time.
Do you think authors have a responsibility to do more than tell an entertaining story?
Not really, but it’s great when people say your books have changed their lives (for the better, one hopes).
Is there a storytelling tradition you see your work as part of?
I know several Druid bards and I’ve been told that I’m considered an honorary bard. That makes me very proud.
If your novel were to be arrested for a crime of passion, what crime would it be and why (society may not be to blame!)?
Unjust and violent punishment – I’ve no idea why. Maybe my parents were too strict and I’m still feeling hard done by.
Kit Berry is on her second marriage and by default has eight children and two cats. Fortunately only her husband and cats still live at home. She was a school teacher and has also sold insurance, cleaned people’s houses and worked at a beach bar in Ibiza. She’s recently bought a house in Reading and plans to build a wood henge in her back garden and keep chickens, bees and rescue crows. Kit celebrates the pagan festivals and full moon, and members of her social network organise a Stonewylde rally at Avebury every year. She enjoys reading books and growing things. You can learn more about her and her books at www.stonewylde.com, join the conversation at www.stonewylde.net, and find Stonewylde on facebook or by following @Kit_Berry.
You can vote for Shadows at Stonewylde, or any of the novels long-listed for the Legend Award for Best Novel, here. You can also vote for Larry Rostant’s stunning, spooky artwork, as the Best Art of the year, here.