The Tree Drive-by: Mary Victoria

Mary Victoria has lived EVERYWHERE … or at least in Cyprus, Canada, Sierra Leone, France, the USand the UK. She finally settled in New Zealand, where she writes full time and has produced the wonderful Tymon’s Flight, Samiha’s Song and Oracle’s Fire for the HarperVoyager imprint. She studied art and film and has worked as an animator.

1. The spark for The Chronicles of the Tree came from…
Initially, my love of myths and legends. Yggdrasil, the Norse myth of the World Tree, was a direct inspiration, but once I began digging there were so many more. And I guess I’ve always been a bit of a tree nut, no pun intended!

I have a wonderful little book at home, about the size of my palm, called ‘A Tree in Your Pocket’. It’s about the different kinds of trees common in the northern hemisphere, their habitat, significance in legends and fairy tales, use in traditional magic etc. On the cover there’s a picture of a tree, no surprise there. But the artist has chosen to draw two bodies – a man and a woman, perhaps? – entwined in the bark of the trunk. Weirdly, that one image of bodies in the bark had quite an effect on my story. Of course, I also grew up on Jane Yolen’s ‘The Girl who Cried Flowers…’

2. You get to go anywhere and anywhen: where and when do you go, what do you do and who comes with you?
I go to the edge of things and poke. I go outside, and look in. I’d like to live for a while on a planet where they’ve figured out how to do without politicians and hedge funds. I’d take notes on those folks. Anyone who’s interested in this sort of tree-hugging, peacenik nonsense is welcome to come along.

3. The first story you read that made you want to be a writer?
‘The Hobbit’ by JRR Tolkien. I was seven, and so enthralled with Bilbo’s adventures that I kept inventing new ones for him. I have to admit that mine were perhaps, on hindsight, slightly less nuanced and satisfactory than the originals. They generally involved Bilbo being chased by monsters and tripping over… cue dramatic pause.

4. Which writer would cause you to have a squeee’ing fangirl moment?
I admit, I’d squee most terribly were I to come face to face with either Ursula Le Guin or China Mieville. Ursula because she’s the single strongest influence on me as a storyteller, and China because he’s, well, China. But alas my squees generally take the form of much inarticulacy and stuttering, so I suppose such meetings wouldn’t do me any good. I also regularly squee over people like Kaaron Warren whom I’ve had the privilege to be in touch with.

5. Donuts or danishes?
Danish! The stickier the better! …Though jelly donuts are good. Alright, Danishes and jelly donuts. And cinnamon rolls. And do strudels count as a Danish? OK, just pass the whole plate…

She lives here.

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