Hypable was lucky enough to sit down and chat with Welsh author Gabriella Lepore, who saw her first novel The Witches of the Glass Castle published in September of this year. In the interview Gabriella talks about her novel, her writing process and what she’s got lined up next!
The Witches of the Glass Castle is a young adult novel about siblings Mia and Dino who discover that they have magical abilities. Their mother sends them off to the ‘Glass Castle,’ an isolated place where they can develop their powers in the company of fellow young witches (‘Arcana’) and the mysterious, otherworldly ‘Hunters’ whose domain is the off-limits forest. While the headstrong, spirited Mia is instantly drawn to the forest and the Hunters who dwell there, sullen and rebellious Dino struggles with his own, far more sinister problems.
Hypable: How did you come up with the idea for Glass Castle ?
Gabriella Lepore: Well, every time I start a new book I like to go to woodland type places, lots of cheap hotels that are in nature surroundings, and I’ll just kind of daydream for a few days. I know that I was doing one of my woodland walks at the time, and I saw a little headstone with ‘Spangles’ written on it [which is featured in the novel], and it was in a really sort of spooky setting, and the ideas just started to unfold and the next thing I knew I had the story, I had the characters. I had Colt first, there’s always one that starts it and then it builds around them. I like the characters a lot, I especially had a lot of fun writing Colt.
Was there any particular message in the story you wanted to bring across?
There wasn’t a particular message or anything, aside from having the character of Colt that was a very strong character in my head and I really wanted to write him as a character. And then as the story developed there were other aspects of it that I felt really strongly about writing. I’m glad I did write it now, cause I love it.
When I read the book the characters were very driven by emotion, that felt like an over-arching theme. Sometimes they were even controlled by their emotions. Was that something you intended to explore in the story?
Yeah, I genuinely believe in life that it’s a very human attribute to be driven by your emotions. I think using those powers to reflect nature and to combine human emotion with nature was very interesting for me to do, cause I personally have an interest in those sorts of things.
The book had a very open ending! Are you planning a sequel?
I’m not sure. I’d like to do a sequel to the Glass Castle, and I expect I probably will within the next year. But it’s hard to say. My first three [so far unpublished] books were all the same characters and they were just stories that followed on, but since then the others have been different characters, different worlds. And I think for the enjoyment, I quite like to write a completely new book with completely new characters. But at the same time, I probably will do a sequel cause it’s in my head now.
Your next book How I Found You, which will be released in July of next year, is a completely different world…
It’s the same genre, it’s teen fiction and supernatural but it’s different characters, a different world, and yeah I think it’s… similar but different, is how I’d describe it. But I’m very happy with this book, I’m very excited for it to come out.
What attracts you to the YA supernatural genre?
I can only seem to write for young adults. I’ve tried to write older and I’ve tried to write younger but I can’t, and I’m quite happy with that. I’m stuck in that genre but I love it. And I’ve always read a lot of YA so I suppose you write with where your passion for reading lies. For the supernatural part, I suppose I’m quite fascinated by that as a whole. Especially witches, I think there’s so many ways you can go with witches, you can just have so much fun with it, and it seems to be my most comfortable genre so I’m enjoying that at the moment.
I’m not sure. I used to go to a place called Burley in the New Forest, it’s a little town that’s pretty much dedicated to witches, and I just love it. It’s all very theatrical with witches on their broomsticks and little statues. It’s like a magical place, and I used to love going there, so I suppose that might have something to do with it. It was a place we used to go for family holidays. So I can’t help wondering if that’s what influenced my writing.
How did you get into writing?
Well, I’m not exactly sure how I started, but I remember that I used to love to write. I was always writing stories, I was always making up stories and it’s just something that never left me. And when I started thinking about it more seriously, I suppose I was early 20s, so you know, 6-7 years ago, and I just focused on writing manuscripts and finishing them and editing them, and then approaching the publishing world, which I knew nothing about. So it was a lot of trial and error, but for me writing was something consistent during my whole life.
What is the easiest to write: the first line of a book or the last line?
Oooh good question. Last line. Because it’s that great moment where I know I’ve finished, and it’s always gonna be a bit of a poignant line, and it’s a great feeling to write that final line.
The YA genre has obviously exploded in the past ten years. What do you think about this development, as a writer in the genre?
I know that there’s more demand for YA now and I think that’s great because it’s really important for everyone of all age groups to read, but at the same time I think there’s, it’s also more competitive because people want to write for it, and for that sometimes it can be a saturated market. It’s a bit of both, but I do think the more books out the better, because we all love to read.
What has been the best thing about getting published?
Realising a dream, and having my characters read by people. Because if just one of two people read my book and enjoy those characters and take those with them, even just for a day or a week, then that’s enough for me. Because then I’ve achieved everything I could ask for.