INTERVIEW with GWEN DANDRIDGE, author of THE STONE LIONS
Art affects everything that I do. It influences what I write about and how I approach it.
The Stone Lions is set in 14th century Spain. Did you have to do a lot of research for the book? Have you ever been to Spain?
The whole idea for The Stone Lions came about during a trip to the Alhambra with two friends of mine from Dartmouth college, one a professor of math and one who was an artist/instructor. That trip provided the initial impetus for the story. Since then I have read over thirty books on Islam, harems, art history, medieval history, Andalusia, food in Medieval times, whatever I can find on any subjects that surround this time and culture. Whenever I travel, I stop at any museums that have medieval artifacts or Islamic collections. I also joined the Islamic Medievalist list serve for a few years to pick up details, spoke with Muslims in my community and generally made a nuisance of myself trying to understand that time and culture.
The Stone Lions also uses mathematics and symmetry in its plot. Tell us about your interest in
Since third grade, arithmetic has been the bane of my life. J I avoid situations where I have to calculate numbers—any numbers. This book is my attempt to demystify math for young people, at least a tiny subset of it. The story attempts to show that math is more than numbers, and that it can be fun and interesting.
There are many types of math that have nothing to do with adding and subtracting. So, understand, if you are not good at arithmetic it isn’t a career inhibitor; perhaps you shouldn’t be a bookkeeper, but it shouldn’t keep you from being a mathematician or a programmer or a systems’ analyst (as I was).
What advice would you give to young readers who are interested in writing novels of their own?
Read and read more. Start writing—anything. Set aside a small amount of time each day to write or, even if you don’t write anything down, just to think about your story. Join a writing group and learn to take criticism. Don’t expect to be a good writer without learning the craft of writing.
What are your latest writing projects?
Well, there is the next of the Lions’ books called The Jinn’s Jest—another math oriented book. And, there is a YA fantasy whose name keeps changing, right now it is called The Dragons’ Chosen. I’m hoping this will be out next spring. There is also The Lady of the Tower, Dark and a brand new one called Seven Demons. I’m excited about all of them! The beginnings of some of these are on my web page at www.gwendandridge.com.
Is there anything else you'd like to tell Book Pound readers?
Dream and dream big. Try and fail, over and over, rather than never try. And when you fail, be gentle on yourself. Be open to change. Eventually, you will succeed though perhaps in a way you don’t expect.