Ishbelle Bee

Ishbelle is the author of one of my favourite books for this year: The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath.  It is one of the few books I think I’ll read many times.  I loved it so much I even read bits of it aloud (trying to sound like the characters) in a crowded coffee shop to my husband, while trying not to giggle maniacally. (You’ll understand this reference when you read the book!) 
I am delighted to interview her about her work.

Tell us a little about yourself please?
I was born in London and I now live in Edinburgh, Scotland. My hobbies are painting, drawing and reading; my favourite authors are Angela Carter and Lewis Carroll. I am an Angry Robot author and I write adult fairy tales with horror elements, inspired by folklore and mythology. My second book in the Peculiar Adventures of John Loveheart, Esq., The Contrary Tale of The Butterfly Girl is being published this August. Contrary Tale features an insane collector of butterflies and a demonic Prime Minister who eats women.

What books did you read as a child?
My favourites were Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. I had a cassette tape of the latter, which I listened to at night when I was very young. It was wonderfully creepy. I think they are both one of the most original and brilliant pieces of writing I have ever read.

Did you always want to be a writer?
Always and also an illustrator. My other aim was to be a Time Lord when I was six and I had an imaginary Tardis and a real very long scarf knitted by my Granny. I was never keen on The Doctor’s companions ( except for K9 who I love ) and I would have probably booted them out of the Tardis mid-flight.

Where did the inspiration come from for The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath?
I wanted to write a book that incorporated the ideas of fraudulent psychics in the Victorian era, exorcism, and Jack the Ripper. During my twenties I read a lot of the case studies of Jack the Ripper and I have always been keen to write a book with my own imaginary version of him. Goliath was originally going to be a priest in early drafts but he worked better as a detective as the plot evolved.

How did you conjure up Mr Loveheart, who has to be one of the most endearing and deranged heroes I’ve ever read?
He was originally going to be a villain who only appeared in a few chapters and was going to be eaten by a tiger, but as I was writing him I got a funny feeling, as though the entire book was really about him and now he’s become my favourite character and very special to me. He is inspired in part by David Bowie’s Jareth in LABYRINTH and a little bit of Howl from HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE. He has a peculiar charming madness.

To read my review of The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath click here.

Throughout the book there are quirky uses of font for some of the characters’ dialogue, which was a wonderful touch in light of their personalities – whose idea was that?
It was my idea and something I love to do when I write. I think visually with words and like to play with them on the page which I think helps accentuate certain meaning / feelings within the text and also it keeps the story fresh and makes the work standout. It’s something that I incorporate in all my work.

Mr Loveheart’s adventures continue in The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl: From the Peculiar Adventures of John Loveheart, Esq Vol 2 – how many novels are you planning in this series?

I have written 4 books for the Loveheart series and a Christmas special book ( which features him doing his Christmas shopping and inadvertently becoming involved in a curious adventure ). I will be working on Book 5 later this year. I think there maybe more scope for him in other scenarios.
Do you have a favourite place or time to write?I love writing very early in the mornings. I like to start about 6am- 7am and work until about 2pm. I can only really work at a desk with my headphones on and listen to music so I block out the outside world. I need complete isolation when I write or I get grumpy and distracted. I like to write with plenty of strong coffee.

How much planning to you do in regard to your story structure and writing?
I usually have the idea in my head for the plot and make a few pages of rough notes or write keywords down and then just get stuck in. While I am writing a book I will research in the afternoons and in the evenings I like to read for fun. I like to let the story unfold naturally and I have to work on my own and be far away from people. I need complete isolation when I write or I get too distracted.

Thank you so much for the lovely interview!

Twitter: @ishbellebee