Saturday, 10 March 2012

The Girl in the Box by Sheila Dalton

Hello and welcome to our world, Sheila Dalton. As we live in an enchanted forest and we are magical folk, let us transport you to another world for your interview today. Tell us where you would like to go and why. It could be another time or a setting that is special to you. Just say the word and we are there…….

I would like to go back to Guatemala, where my book The Girl in the Box is set, or Morocco, or Cuba, where the water is clear as a mirror and the silvery fish bump against your calves like friendly kittens.

I – What would you say is the most important thing to consider before starting to write a book?

Whether the subject matter and storyline are going to keep your interest. You and your book will form a partnership that could last a very long time. You want to make sure you won’t tire of each other!

M – How do you plot your male characters? Are they based on people you know or your ideal man? Do you have physical or mental pictures of your male characters?

My male characters are based on many different things - people I’ve known, certainly; sometimes, people I’d like to have known. They take on a life of their own after a while, so that even if they start out being my ideal man, they don’t stay that way forever! Kind of like real life, when you think about it.

P- Do you like to work in peace and quiet? Or noise?

Oh, definitely peace and quiet. I love to be alone at home, knowing my husband and son will return eventually, but in the meantime I am blissfully, and quietly, alone.

 F - What do you like to do for fun?

I love gardening, and listening to music, and playing with my cats. Also reading and singing and going on trips into the Canadian countryside, going to movies with my son or husband, weekends away in little hotels. I also love to travel, but can’t often afford it anymore.

A – What has been the most amazing point in your life so far?

Several experiences I’ve had while meditating - a sense of utter and complete peace, a sense of having discovered a secret that opens up the world.

I – What is your favourite musical instrument and why?

The saxophone. I just love the sound it makes, I can’t really explain why.

R – Do you like reality shows?

No, I really hate them!

Y – What is your favourite memory from your youth or childhood?

Going into the woods behind our house in Drayton, England, to what we called “Over the Back” and having great imaginary adventures. Also, feeding the hedgehogs that lived there. I’ve since learned we possibly fed them all the wrong things - bread soaked in milk mostly - but we didn’t know that then. They felt like prickly little friends. I loved them. We don’t have them here in Canada. 
Now read a sample from The Girl in the Box.


Guatemala, Feb., 1983

          The smell was thick as sludge, and rancid. It forced an intake of breath when Jerry wanted to pinch his nostrils shut and run out of the hut.
          He struggled to ignore it, but the stench dropped into his throat and lodged there. When he tried to swallow, he coughed instead.

Agua?” He turned to the Mayan behind him. “Por favor?”

The man nodded while continuing to talk to his wife.

Jerry leaned into his arms on the rough-hewn table and stared at the crucifixes on the wall.

There were five hand-carved wooden Messiahs in front of him, each more lurid than the last. One strained so far outwards from his cross that Jerry thought he looked like he could tear himself off and change religious history. Painted blood ran from the hands, feet and sides of all five, and hung in gobs from a number of wounded knees. It cascaded over one Christ’s body in vermilion stripes, ending in a single dangling blob at the bottom of the cross.

The murmur behind Jerry grew louder. He swivelled around. The couple dropped their eyes and lowered their voices simultaneously, as though  performing a duet.

Agua?” he pleaded, a hand to his throat.

Si, Senor.” This time, the man shooed his wife behind a ragged curtain then followed her out of sight.

Jerry concentrated on the pictures on the wall,. colourful renditions of what he thought must be Mayan deities, interspersed with rumpled copies of paintings of Catholic saints. An abundance of spiritualities, where he himself had none.

He frowned at the uplifted eyes and sweet secretive smiles of the saints. Multicoloured woollen frames bordered each blissful face—red, orange, bright yellow, the kind of blues and greens that oceans radiate and skies sometimes faintly reflect—colours out of a child’s fantasy, woven together with tufts and tassels and thick, knotted fringes that infused the pictures with the kind of robust good cheer he’d come to admire in Latin Americans themselves.

His spirits lifted. But there was that unhealthy smell, and a filthy blanket hanging heavily over the doorway, blocking air and light.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for hosting me today. You have a very pretty and imaginative blog, and I love the way you've illustrated my interview. The hedgehog is so cute!
    All the best,