Sunday 8 April 2012

Sunday Special: Interview with Abi from So This Is School

After taking a break from blogger interviews for a few weeks, I'm thrilled to bring you my fourth, which is with the fabulous Abi from the relatively new blog So This Is School! So This Is School! focuses on Girls' Own classics rather than modern books and as a huge fan of the genre it's quickly becoming one of my very favourite blogs!

1. Tell us a bit about yourself - what do you do aside from reading and blogging?

I’m a writer as well as a reader, with a leaning towards YA fantasy – I’ve got a couple of novels on the go at the moment. Apart from that? I work in a call centre, which leaves me a reasonable amount of time for staring out of the window and letting my imagination do what it wants to. I also have a random adoration of bagpipes…

2. What made you decide to start a blog focusing on older books?

The fact that there’s not a lot out there for those of us who love the Girls’ Own genre in general, rather than just a couple of authors. And I’ve loved old books ever since I got my first Saturday job in a secondhand bookshop and was almost immediately put in charge of the children’s section. I guess it was all downhill from there.

3. I know you’re a fan of Just William – can we expect to see any Boys’ Own reviews or features on your blog any time soon?

I wouldn’t be surprised! I’m a great fan of Jennings as well as Just William and have absolutely no self-control, so I doubt I’ll be able to resist giving them some blog-space for long.

Fab! I love Just William AND Jennings so it would be great to see them getting some blog-space!

4. What Girls’ Own classic would you recommend to readers who’ve never tried any books from the period before?

Oh, that’s difficult, but I think I’d have to go for something by Elinor Brent-Dyer. The School at the Chalet, perhaps, because its depiction of the Austrian Tyrol is so perfectly charming. Or else The Chalet School in Exile, which is one of the most courageous Girls’ Own books I’ve ever read – the way Elinor Brent-Dyer writes about the Second World War is extraordinarily bleak and real.

Exile would be my pick as well. I loved your piece on EBD which talked about it!

5. Sadly, a lot of GO books are out of print by now. While companies such as Girls Gone By have done a fabulous job of bringing books by some of the more well-known authors such as EJO, EBD and DFB back into circulation, is there any GO author who you’d really like to see reprinted?

Thinking about that, I realise that most of my favourite authors are already represented to some extent. I would like to see some Nancy Breary, though, because her writing is often very funny. And although Girls Gone have reprinted The New School and Hilary, I’d welcome more Winifred Darch reprints too.

Have never tried Darch or Breary, but I'll keep an eye out for them!

6. Are there any modern childrens’ books you’ve read that you think would appeal to fans of GO?

I have to admit that I don’t read a lot of modern children’s books! The obvious answer’s the Harry Potter books, of course. I recently read The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, which is a modern school story with an absolutely ripping adventure and a bit of the supernatural thrown in, and which I thoroughly enjoyed. There’s also Virtuoso by Jessica Martinez, which I think would appeal greatly to fans of Lorna Hill and Jean Estoril.

Ooh... Virtuoso sounds fab! I definitely want to read The Name of the Star at some point. I'd agree with Harry Potter, definitely.

7. If you were hosting a literary dinner party, which six authors or characters would you invite along?

Ooh, another difficult one! For authors, I think I’d go for Jasper Fforde – I saw him at the Guildford Book Festival one year and he was really interesting and very down-to-earth. Robin McKinley, whose books I’ve only recently discovered, and, to represent the Girls’ Own genre, I’d love to have Antonia Forest. As for characters, I’d choose Grizel Cochrane of the Chalet School series because I think she’s one of Elinor Brent-Dyer’s most interesting creations, Sebastian Scott, who was my first literary crush (those sparkling blue eyes and musician’s hands...), and Nancy Blackett for her general awesomeness.

Grizel's a fab pick! I think I've said before that I don't understand your crush on Sebastian - I always thought Timothy was Hill's best male character, with Robin a close second. Nancy Blackett can't be argued with, of course!

8. I’m hoping some of my readers will rush over to So This Is School once they’ve finished this interview. Is there any particular post on the blog you’d recommend they check out?

Well, it’s still only a baby blog, but I’m quite fond of my latest post, Find Your Inner Heroine!, a quiz to help you decide which Girls’ Own heroine you most identify with.

Great post! (I'm Darrell Rivers... not sure that's a good thing!)

9. Which fictional school would you have most like to have gone to?

When I was younger I always rather fancied going to Enid Blyton’s Whyteleafe, where the children were so involved in the running of the school. Now I think I’d go for the Chalet School in its early years in the Tyrol – there was such a lovely family atmosphere.

Definitely agree with both of those! Although when growing up I was always keen on the Dominick as well. (Since I never did any ballet, I'm not sure I'd QUITE have fitted in there...)

10. Do you think you'll still be blogging in another 2 years time?

I hope so! I’m sure the blog will develop over time; it’s still early days. But I’d like to think I’ll still be doing something like this, if only because it’s great fun. You never know, perhaps I’ll even have an author blog by that time!

I hope so! Best of luck!

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