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Putting Authors / Illustrators in the Picture #11: Gavin Extence

Liz Robinson

By Liz Robinson on 1st July 2019

Gavin Extence lives in Sheffield with his wife, children and cat. The LoveReading team particularly love his books, as you can see from our reviews. He has written three previous novels: The Universe Versus Alex Woods, The Mirror World of Melody Black and The Empathy Problem. I have just finished reading (and again completely adored) The End of Time which is his fourth and published on 25.07.2019. I so enjoy looking at the pictures and captions that are so memorable for the authors. I thought I was young when I read Lord of the Rings, obviously not! The answer to his most memorable book event is rather special, a reminder indeed...

The book that first made you want to become an author?

I was nine years old when I first read The Lord of the Rings, and I can remember exactly how it felt. I was suddenly aware of how vast a story could be – how it could contain an entire universe. I still get that childlike sense of wonder sometimes, when I’m lost in a really good book. It’s the feeling I’m continually trying to recreate when I write.

Favourite writing spot?

This is a weird one. It’s the cupboard in my office, which is in the attic. I threw in a giant beanbag and some mismatched cushions, and there’s a sunlamp to keep me alert and focused. It’s perfect when I need to shut out the external world and daydream.

The bookshelf you return to again and again?

Definitely the most reread shelf in my library! If I had to choose one word to describe the books (and authors) I adore, I’d probably go for ‘unique’. Or I could just present this snapshot. A Prayer for Owen Meany is probably my favourite book of all time. I’ve reread it so often it is literally falling apart.

A booky photo that makes you really smile?

Me, standing next to a human-sized tube poster of my debut novel. This is one of those images that just makes me feel immensely proud and happy. It’s beyond anything I dreamed when I first started writing.

A location that has inspired you?

This is Lindisfarne (Holy Island), just off the coast of Northumberland. It’s a location that appeals to my inner hermit. Twice a day, the tide rushes in and floods the causeway connecting the island to the mainland. I set part of my second novel here, and it’s going to be the main location for my next one. If you’re the sort of person who likes their scenery vaguely apocalyptic, it’s the perfect place to take a picnic on an overcast day.

Your most memorable book event?

I had to get a bit creative with this image. The event was inside a women’s prison, HMP Low Newton, and I wasn’t allowed to take my phone in. I think I was frisked, too, but that might be the product of an overactive imagination. In any case, this event was memorable in so many ways. It was set up by The Reader Organisation in collaboration with Durham Book Festival, as part of their ‘Reading in Secure Environments’ project. I spent a couple of hours in the prison library, talking to a group of about twenty women who were reading Alex Woods for their book club, and it was such a humbling experience. Many of these women had grown up in homes without books, and had struggled with reading in school, so to see them so enthusiastic about a novel I’d written was just incredible. Above all, I think this event reminded me how powerful and transformative stories can be.

Keep up to date with Gavin Extence

Twitter: @GavinExtence

Facebook: @GavinExtenceAuthor

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