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An Interview with Coral Walker: Author of Children of Swan

Coral WalkerMy life has been like a collection of interconnected rills, streams and brooks, swelling when it rains and diminishing when it’s dry. All the same they flow, as tributaries do, to a river. Writing is my perpetual river. I am Coral Walker, born and raised in China, and now living happily with my husband and three children in South Wales, in the UK.

Tell us something about your book. The basics: what’s it about?

‘The Land of Taron’ is about Jack and Brianna, the older siblings of the Goodman family, who must search for their missing parents and abducted young brother in the remote land of Taron, a strange and unsettling world. It is told in three instalments. ‘Children of Swan: The Land of Taron, Vol 1’ is the first book.

 What drove you to write this particular book?

It isn’t a coincidence that I have three children, just like the Goodman family. A few years ago I was attending a novel-writing workshop and needed a story idea to pitch to the group. My mind was dominated at the time by the daily chaos wrought by my children. Loving them dearly, but disliking their constant sibling squabbles, I imagined they were missing and caring for each other, with their lives turned upside-down by adversity. That was how the story started. Since then it has grown a life of its own — the missing parents, the abducted young brother and the perilous land of Taron where life is held cheap.

Nevertheless, it is a fiction. Once the writing switch is turned on, I am completely given over to storytelling. Would I want my children go through the suffering and life-and-death struggles of the Goodman children to learn the same valuable lessons? Well…no, but life can be capricious. The days that our children are under our wing are numbered. One day they will spread their own wings and fly off into the sky. By then I hope that, like the Goodman children in their fictional world, they will care for each other and be strong and resilient.

Children of Swan by Coral Walker What’s your writing regimen? Where do you do your writing?

I work two days a week in a university, and am a busy mother of three whenever my children are home. Three days a week my unvarying writing time is from 9am to 4pm. I also write in the morning every day, before anyone gets up. The big dining table is where I do my writing, three yards from the kettle: just perfect.

Who are your greatest writing influences?

I grew up in China and read many English, French, Russian and American classics in Chinese. Balzac, Shakespeare and Dickens have long been my all-time favourites. Since I came to the UK, I have re-read in English some of the classics that I’d previously read in Chinese, and started exploring books in many other genres. I love read to classic literature and history books—I learn and study them.

My writing is has been influenced by other authors, and for the past couple of years, whenever I got stuck, I would read D.H Lawrence and John Gardner, in particular, to inspire me.

Is the book in any one particular genre? Is it a genre that’s familiar to you?

Children of Swan is a mixture of genres: Young Adult, Sci-fi and Fantasy. I’ve grown familiar with the YA genre by studying it, rather than through any natural inclination for it.

How did you come to self-publish? Did you try to get published traditionally?

I contacted various agencies, and had a dozen straightforward rejections and a handful of more gentle ones saying they liked the book, but had decided not to take it. Self-publishing had always been sitting at the back of my mind. Though none of the agencies ever gave a clear reason they had turn down the book, the length of the three-volume book (over 150,000 words) may have deterred them. So I decided to take the self-publishing route and released the book in three instalments.

What self-publishing service did you use? Happy with the service?

I used CreateSpace and KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). They are huge, self-service publishing machines: fast, no-nonsense and relentlessly efficient.

Would you self-publish again?

Yes, I would for the time being.

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