Having children gave Gillian an excuse to carry on reading children’s books, as well as a motivation to write them. She has a son and a daughter, and is married to Brian, who works for the New York Times Media Group.
Hobbies, Interests, and Enthusiasms
I am currently learning Italian (or trying to!) and have a secret fantasy about going to live on the beautiful island of Sicily one day, and having a little stone house with a lemon tree in the garden, and a view of the blue, blue sea! I am lucky, though, because I do live in a fantastic part of England, full of soft green fields and rolling hills and cottages that date back four hundred years.
I like to go for long walks and see the changes that the seasons bring, and I try to imagine how it all must have been years and years ago, and how the people lived. I was brought up in the north of England which is much more rugged and wild—the backdrop to Immortal.
I also enjoy being in the city—although I wouldn't want to live there all the time, it's fun to go window shopping or to big new exhibitions or shows, or just hang out in a coffee shop with a cappuccino and a notebook and watch the busy world go by.
Something I enjoy is painting. I have taken quite a few art classes and find it very creative to work with paint and charcoal and images instead of words, though somehow I can't help adding bits of poetry and scraps of words into my paintings, too… When I was at school, I was completely obsessed by the Pre-Raphaelites, and I love the way their art is so intertwined with poetry and stories. My best friend is an artist and she is incredibly inspiring to me.
I hate cooking but love the idea of being a good cook and welcoming all my friends and family to delicious meals. So I have lots of beautiful cookery books but I never get past the first couple of recipes. Every so often I get madly enthusiastic all over again, but it doesn't last.
When I am writing, I can't listen to music—I find it too distracting, but I love to listen to the radio when I am driving. I listen to pop music in the morning and classical music in the afternoon. That just seems right somehow. My son is really into music, so I enjoy sharing his enthusiasms. At the moment we are listening to Eminem, Akon, NDubz, Chipmunk, Kanye West, plus Greenday, Michael Jackson…the list goes on. My current absolute favorite is Paolo Nutini.
Another interest I have is this amazing charity called The Smile Train which carries out operations for disadvantaged children born with harelip/cleft palate. Sometimes I feel I don't realize how lucky I am, and so it's good to try and do something to help a child on the other side of the world who isn't so lucky. My family also tries to support Sightsavers International, who do simple cataract operations to restore the sight of hundreds of people in the developing world.
On a more self-indulgent note, I love to get to the theater whenever I can, and to the ballet, which I adore. In another fantasy life I would definitely be a ballerina!
I can't imagine getting through a day without reading or writing. I know it sounds a complete cliche, but there it is. I go to a writers' workshop once a week to meet other writers and exchange ideas and read work in progress, and that is hugely important to me. And every spare minute of the time at home I am reading, reading, reading…What would we do without stories?
St Catharine's College, Cambridge University (MA in Englis