Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Esther McCaustlin Talks Books

I am thrilled to welcome Esther McCaustlin to the blog. Esther is the author of the newly released Gabriel and the Swallows. Gabriel and the Swallows is a coming-of-age story with hints of historical fantasy about main character Gabriel who, one day, rescues a wounded creature, only to discover it's a small girl with swallow wings. While trying to protect her, Gabriel has to wrestle with questions and problems, both in his regular life and in this new life that this little girl brings...

After chatting to Ben (you guys will know him as Benjaminoftomes on YouTube - and yes, he is COE of the micro-publishing company who is publishing this story) about this story and a few others, he asked if I would be involved in this blog tour, and I become excited. And, after chatting to Esther via email about a few ideas for this stop, Esther revealed the five books that influenced her as a writer. So, to both Ben and Esther, thank you for your time and help on this! 

And now, onto those books! Have you read them? 

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susannah Clark
Called the “Adult Harry Potter” - this 800 page book written in an old-English style, with a ton of footnotes and a first chapter so dense that many a reader has given up on this gem before they even began, influenced my writing in a huge way.  It’s a wonderful story - about two rival magicians in England seeking to bring magic back to the land, and it’s utterly absorbing.  I wanted it to be 8000 pages! Quite possibly my favourite book.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
I never wanted to read this series because I didn’t want to see what happened to Cassandra Clare - I was one of those rabid readers in the early 2000s who logged onto FictionAlley.net every week to get my daily dose of The Draco Trilogy - Clare’s infamous Harry Potter fan fiction that was just too incredible for words.  However, City of Bones did not disappoint, and in fact influenced a particular chapter in Gabriel and the Swallows! Can you tell which one?

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
Wow.  This book. A contemporary drama about a girl who tastes all the emotions a person has felt preparing dishes - she learns terrible truths about her family and this awful gift nearly lends to her ruin.  A completely absorbing one-of-a-kind story I could not put down.  And when I learned the truth about her brother - never in my life has a passage in a book affected me like that!

The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
A detailed look at the life of a Whitechapel prostitute and her rise to riches in this Victorian novel.  It’s so detailed it hurts, and Faber is this generation’s master story teller. A disturbing, illuminating read and a masterpiece for any writer to aspire toward.
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Imagine you are attending the birthday celebrations of a famous South American political leader when a guerrilla terrorist troupe takes over the venue and traps you and all the other esteemed foreign guests inside.  This tale, about the relationships that develop between these people (centred around a Japanese diplomat, a famous opera singer, a translator and a teen girl soldier) in the midst of duress is the best piece of writing out there.  Recommend to anyone and everyone!


  1. Yes! City of Bones! One of my favorite series. I am obsessed with everything Shadowhunters. Great taste Esther. ☺

  2. Wow, I've never heard of "The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake" or "The Crimson Petal and the White", but I will definitely be checking these out!