A lonely farm boy.
A girl with swallow’s wings.
An ancient city buried in a volcano.
A mystery old as blood and bone.
There is more to Gabriel than the life he’s ashamed of – the son of peasant winemakers, bullied relentlessly on account of his disabled mother. For Gabriel has a secret: the elaborate dream world he descends into at night – a grandiose, vivid existence – is becoming more real than his waking life.
Everything changes for Gabriel when he rescues a wounded creature – a miraculous girl with swallow’s wings – from the voracious pursuit of Alfio Gallo, a dangerous old enemy. Aided by the beautiful and mysterious Orlando Khan, Gabriel is conflicted by unanswered questions: who is the Dark One that dwells in the medieval tunnels beneath their city? Is he just a figment of Gabriel’s powerful imagination? And is the foundling really who she says she is?
Wrestling with manhood whilst beckoned by ancient rites and foreign lands, Gabriel is about to make a deadly decision that changes the course of life as he knows it…as long as he can decide which reality he’s in.
Question 1- What made you want to write Gabriel and the Swallows?
Esther- It was an idea that came to me rather suddenly. It had been about a year since I had completed DROWN, and after a disastrous holiday to a particular island. I was on a cross-country bus and kind of not speaking to the person I was traveling with. There were miles and miles of banana plantations out of the window and nothing else to look at, so I imagined a little girl with wings just dropping into them…and the first chapter was born. When I arrived at my destination, I hurriedly wrote the first 3 chapters in about a day.
Question 2- When you visited Orvieto, did any of the people inspire certain characters?
Esther- Well, there was a man called Signore Montanucci who is the owner and proprietor of a very famous bakery/restaurant that appears in the book. He told me many fascinating histories of Orvieto and some local gossip, and a bit about his childhood. I based the character of Gabriel on a particular glimpse of himself as a boy that he showed me.
Question 3- How much research did you do for GATS?
Esther- A lot. Like, a lot. Lots of reading, lots of talking, lots of listening, lots of traveling…and a ton of eating!
Question 4- How long did it take to write Gabriel and the Swallows?
Esther-About four months.
However, that was just the time it took to sit down and begin typing. In reality, after all the travel and research and planning etc, it took quite a long time.
Question 5- When you were writing GATS did you hit any huge writers blocks?
Esther- I did. I had a three year writer’s block. Remember those first three chapters I mentioned? I actually didn’t touch the book again until three years later. I knew I wanted to write it, but it took me that long to get serious about it, stop my hectic schedule, set the time to travel to Italy and research, and then just get on with it. In those three years, it really was an epic writer’s block. I did not write a single thing.
Question 6- In your opinion who was your least favorite character to write about?
Because Volatile is very much a made-up creature, unlike Gabriel and Orlando – oh, and Blanca, Celso, Mariko, and Darlo. Who seem to be very real, breathing people, writing a mysterious, winged girl did not go smoothly and wasn’t easy. I was also very cautious to write her in a particular way – there is a very big shock coming to the readers about Volatile. and I needed to be very cryptic about her, making sure the audience only sees her in a certain light. The big shock will be revealed in the sequel.
Question 7- Are you currently working on anything?
Esther- I am currently writing the sequel to Gabriel, it’s called ORLANDO AND THE SPIRITS.
Question 8- I know you worked with Oftomes for GATS, was GATS already finished before you started working with Oftomes?
Yes. I completed GATS in 2012. Almost four years ago.
Question 9- Do you have to travel a lot for your books?
Esther- I don’t have to, but I like to, if it is required. I travel a lot anyways, which is the nature of my work for the past decade or so, so it comes easier to me as I’m always moving from country to country to live and work. However, my next books don’t require much travel as they are based in worlds that I have created, or countries I already have a history with.
Question 10- What was your least favorite part of the writing process?
Esther- Finding the time to write. I’m a very busy person, and all the books I’ve previously written were done when I was single and free. I have a family now, which you can imagine, takes up enormous amounts of time I used to use to write. I am hoping for some time soon, I have a manuscript due very soon!
I am extremely excited about ORLANDO AND The SPIRITS . . . hopefully I can sneak some more information from Esther . . . ?
But anyways, I really hope you all have enjoyed this interview! I feel like now that I have done three interviews with her (two for two different releases) that I now have to continue this like a tradition. So Esther be ready for me to ask you more questions when ORLANDO AND THE SPIRITS comes out!
All the questions I’ll have to come up with! (you may get some repeated questions . . .)
I hope you all, not only enjoy GATS, but buy it so you can have the lovely physical in your hands! And make sure to put reviews up! I love reading reviews for Esther’s book . . . I don’t think I have read one bad one yet about Esther’s amazing novels. ❤
Also, I know I’m saying a lot, but go check out this video from READING TRANSFORMS!
reading transforms on twitter!
Writing and teaching, she has lived in Laos, Vietnam and South Korea and has traveled the world extensively, from Johannesburg to Bangkok to Barcelona.
She now lives in Berlin with her husband, daughter, and Pekingese dog, all acquired in different countries. She has no plans yet to return to Australia.