I’m hosting an interview today with authors John and Annette Gisby. They’re co-authors of travel book “New Zealand with a Hobbit Botherer”.
Thanks for coming on my blog, John and Annette!
Can you tell us a little about yourselves?
I grew up in a very small town in Northern Ireland. You’ve heard of a one horse town? Well, this was a one hill town, a very big hill. We had a small library but no bookshops and I’d soon read through everything I wanted to in the library. I started writing my own stories so that I’d always have something to read later. Of course, those early stories never saw the light of day. I’ve heard it said that you need to write a million words before you’re ready for publication. I don’t know if I’d written that many, but there were certainly quite a few notebooks and binders filled with my stories before I sent anything off to publishers.
I was born at a very early age in a town called Dover, England. Twenty or so miles further south and I would have been French. I’ve always enjoyed writing. After I showed my first efforts to my friends and family I was given every encouragement… to give it up and become a scientist. Critics eh! Science has paid the bills ever since. Then I found someone who actually did offer encouragement. She’s sitting behind me as I’m writing this. Hello Annette! My writing tends to come in two styles. i) Comedy ii) Grandiose. So a funny book about Lord of the Rings seemed just about right.
Can you tell us about your book?
We’d always wanted to go to New Zealand, but what with one thing and another, we never quite got around to. Then we saw Lord of the Rings in the cinema and the scenery was breathtaking. We came to a decision that we’d finally make the trip. John was very keen to explore New Zealand and I was very keen to explore ‘Middle Earth’. I dragged him around lots of the film locations, I’d become a bit of a Lord of the Rings fanatic and he started calling me the Hobbit Botherer. It just seemed to fit. The book details our month long trip through both New Zealand and those Middle Earth locations that we found. We both hope that it’s fun rather than just a dry travelogue.
I knew I wanted to write something funny but couldn’t quite decide what the something was. Then I read “Notes from a Small Island” by Bill Bryson, really enjoyed it, and just like in the best cartoons a light bulb appeared just above my head. Hobbit Botherer is about a month Annette and I spent travelling around New Zealand seeing awesome scenery and places where Orlando Bloom (Annette has just sighed wistfully behind me) once stood. The rivalry between Hobbit Botherer and non Hobbit Botherer, hopefully, adds to the humour.
What was the most challenging part about writing “New Zealand with a Hobbit Botherer”?
When I started I thought the challenge was going to be finding the material to fill a book. I’d reckoned without all the interesting people we’d met on our journey. They just kept popping into my head demanding their own page or two and the book took on a life of its own. In the end the challenge was waking up for the day job after being engrossed in writing until 2am or 3am. Keeping Annette from reading it before I had finished was also a challenge.
If you could meet three authors, dead or alive, what authors would you choose?
Tolkien of course. JK Rowling and Sarah Rayne.
Isaac Asimov, Stephen Donaldson and Bill Bryson. I’m assuming Annette will let me tag along with her to meet the resurrected Tolkein!
What was the best part about your trip to New Zealand?
Oh, there are so many! I think one of our favourite places was Queenstown on the South Island. It’s an adventure sports capital, bungy jumping and paragliding etc., but we just loved the scenery of the lake and mountains surrounding it. John did manage to get me on a jet boat ride as we were coming back from one of our Lord of the Rings tours, but that’s as about adventurous as I get.
Everything Annette says, of course. But the people as well. They are such a happy, friendly bunch, really proud of their country and its heritage and desperate to show it all off to visitors. That’s without mentioning the hilarious “iccint”. We really felt at home in New Zealand (more so than at home) and we’d love to live there one day.
Do you have any works in progress?
I have a romantic suspense novel coming out at the end of February with Pink Petal books. It’s called Drowning Rapunzel and is a re-issue/revised edition. There are also a few short stories, novellas and a novel on the backburner at the moment, all four will be Male/Male romances with a bit of spice. It seems more acceptable nowadays to have explicit love scenes in books.
I’m being urged by Hobbit Botherer fans (the one behind me in particular) to write another funny travelogue based around Harry Potter film locations in the UK. Annette’s sighs when Daniel Radcliffe is mentioned are deeper than those for Orlando, who now must be thought of a her ex. We’ve done some of the research and traveling necessary and the writing has started. But we still have to arrange a tour of Scotland at a time that will make the book a little more interesting than… Chapter 1. It rained. Chapter 2. It rained again. Chapter 3. Still raining… Chapter 17 Rain stopped for ten minutes. Covered in midge bites.
Oh, Harry Potter film locations! I would definitely read that one.
About New Zealand with a Hobbit Botherer
Authors: John and Annette Gisby
Genre: Humor / Travel
What should you do if your spouse becomes addicted to the Lord of the Rings movies and swoons at the very mention of Orlando Bloom’s name? (Thud. Quick, fetch the smelling salts.)
How about taking the advice of a strange apparition that reveals itself in a dream? An apparition that looks remarkably like the director of the movies, Peter Jackson, but not quite remarkably enough to prompt legal action.
An apparition that recommends touring New Zealand in an effort to prove that its sheep pastures aren’t really filled by frolicking Hobbits. Just sheep and the occasional zorbing local.
This is the hilarious tale of such a tour, featuring snow capped mountains and turquoise lakes, flightless birds and flying cattle, bungy jumping grannies and the carrot mafia, strange yellow eyes peering up from a road map and hotel receptionists always desperate to know win you are living.
Annette Gisby grew up in a small town in Northern Ireland, moving to London when she was seventeen. She writes in multiple genres and styles, anything from romance to thriller or erotica to horror, even both at the same time. When not writing, she enjoys reading, cinema, theatre and travelling the world despite getting travel sick on most forms of transport., even a bicycle. Sometimes you might find her playing Dragon Quest or The Sims computer games or watching Japanese Anime. She lives in Hampshire with her husband, a collection of porcelain dolls, cuddly toys and enough books to fill a library. It’s diminishing gradually since the advent of ebooks, but still has a long way to go.
John Gisby is one of those rare English writers who doesn’t live in Surrey. He lives in Hampshire, next door, but with your help in recommending this book to all your friends he may be able to afford Surrey one day. His wife and leading lady is Annette, who is the author of several novels and short stories, also contributing to the Surrey fund. When John is not writing he enjoys travel, with an ambition to visit a different country for every year of his life, buying enough music to challenge the memory of his iPod and trying to play the guitar. Anyone who listens to these attempts agrees that it is very trying. His day job is science, often working for the mining industry, so more dwarf than hobbit really. Don’t tell the elves. By the way, Hampshire is much nicer than Surrey anyway.
We’re giving away an ebook copy of New Zealand with a Hobbit Botherer to a random commenter. Comment below leaving a valid email address to participate!