Welcome

September 2016: Staff Profiles

The first few weeks of term can be confusing, but Information Store staff are always on hand to assist you. We can show you how to search for books, teach you how to reference your essays and help you find a quiet place to study. In this series of blog posts, our lovely staff members answer some bookish questions and prove that there is more to us than “SHHHH”!

Eleanor is a regular writer for Between the Lines. She is a lifelong fan of fantasy, horror and science fiction, and studied Medieval and Early Modern Literature at UEA. Her favourite genres are Gothic horror and swashbuckling adventure. In her spare time, she writes fantastical novels (some of them about Norwich) and plays tabletop roleplaying games and computer games. Her favourite class in Dungeons & Dragons is Rogue. If you ask what her favourite book is, you might be there for a while!

Which fictional character would you like to have as a best friend?

Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle – while I think I’d find him very frustrating, at least life would never be dull! Check out the Studio Ghibli adaptation of Howl’s Moving Castle in the DVD Lobby at 791.433 and see whether you’d like him as a best friend too.

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A sculpture of the famous moving castle

Who is your favourite comic book superhero?

That’s a really tough choice, as I have a fairly long list. Thor in Marvel comics (well…Thor and Loki as a double-act) because he’s blustery and does stupid things but he’s also good-hearted and brave, and he never gives up on people. Loki is my favourite villain, partly because his schemes are so ridiculous – once he turned Thor into a frog! I also really love Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, because they always have each other’s backs and have gone through such interesting changes from villains to heroes. Have a look at our graphic novel sections in Quick Reads and the Book Zone for more awesome heroes and villains!

Which creature (magical or otherwise) would you like to have as a pet?

Fizzgig from The Dark Crystal film or Pabu, the little fire ferret (inspired by a famous red panda) from Avatar: The Legend of Korra.

Which fictional world would you like to live in?

Narnia was the world I fell in love with as a child, and I still get emotional about the idea of living in Cair Paravel, voyaging on the Dawn Treader and hanging out with Aslan. There is a very tentative theory that C.S. Lewis might have been inspired to write parts of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by a visit to Durham, where I used to live. Read the original Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (including audiobooks if you’d prefer), and pick up the surprisingly good film adaptations, all in the Book Zone at 823.91.

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Prebends Bridge in Durham, one of the places that supposedly inspired Narnia

What is the scariest book you have ever read?

The Shining by Stephen King scared me so much when I read it as a teenager that I had to stop halfway through and pick it up again later. The Ritual by Adam Nevill is my latest favourite horror book, as it’s really atmospheric and creepy rather than violent. The ghost stories of M.R. James are probably my all-time favourite spooky tales, because they were so unnerving when I first read them. We’ve recommended some great ghost stories here and we have several books by Stephen King in the Book Zone at 823.91, including Pet Sematary, It, and Carrie.

Which Hogwarts house would you be sorted into? What about Ilvermorny?

I keep being sorted into Slytherin, which is definitely not where I would put myself – but then maybe I have a secret ambitious streak! I’d be torn between Ravenclaw and Gryffindor because I love books, but I also value a lot of the things Gryffindor does. Plus Gryffindor’s house colours are totally the best. With Ilvermorny, there’s no question: Thunderbird all the way! Adventure, ho! We have the Harry Potter series in physical book, audiobook and film adaptation in the Book Zone at 823.91.

What kind of magic do you wish you could have?

If I could have any kind of magic, it would be to stop time whenever I wanted to, like in Bernard’s Watch, so I could always have time to myself and could finish reading as many books as I liked. Obviously, I’d also have to not age while that was happening too. In the world of Harry Potter, I would love to be a Metamorphagus. Being able to wake up with a different hair colour every day would be fantastic!

Which superpower would you pick?

Either flight or teleportation. Something that would mean I could be anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds.

What is your favourite book-to-screen adaptation?

I love the recent (very loose) adaptation of The Musketeers books by Alexandre Dumas on the BBC, because it stays true to the spirit of the books, even if it diverge from them a lot. Plus the casting for the characters is spot-on! I also like the ITV version of Northanger Abbey done a few years ago (check this out on DVD in the Book Zone at 823.1). In films, the adaptation of the Solomon Kane short stories by Robert E. Howard was pretty fantastic, with James Purefoy perfectly cast as the Puritan monster hunter.

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‘The Three Musketeers’ by Fokin – maybe it’s time the Musketeers got a modern-day adaptation?

Which book should be made into a film next? Which book should NEVER be made into a film?

The Diviners by Libba Bray should be adapted next, though I think it would work a lot better as a TV series because of how many characters it has and how long the books are. Magical shenanigans in 1920’s New York!

I think any attempt to adapt one of my favourite books, Narcissus and Goldmund by Hermann Hesse, would be difficult as it’s a meditative journey through the Medieval German countryside, and wouldn’t translate well to the screen. Read it in the Book Zone at 833.91 and see whether you agree!

What form would your Daemon take?

Probably a magpie or a cat. Something mischievous that likes shiny things.

What form would your Patronus take?

A phoenix.

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Would you rather be a dwarf, an elf, or a hobbit?

While I do like shiny things, like a dwarf, and I appreciate a cosy room and good food, like a hobbit, I’d prefer to be an elf. Probably one of the Wood or Sea Elves, since I can’t see myself being all dignified like the Lothlorien elves. And who doesn’t want a riding moose like Thranduil’s in the Hobbit films? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, well, you’re in for a treat: read the original Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien and watch the star-studded film adaptations in the Book Zone at 823.91. Learn more about Tolkien’s significance in fantasy fiction with our Short History of Fantasy Fiction in 9 Books.

Has a book ever made you cry?

So often! I tear up at anything. Most recently, it was Saga, a sci-fi comic book series that makes you care about the characters and then puts them through hell. Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian (Quick Reads 823.91) made me cry like anything as well, though it has a happy ending.

What do you think should be the ‘next big thing’ in YA lit?

I think Malorie Blackman is on to something with her newest novel, Chasing the Stars – with so much good science fiction stuff out there in film and television (like the newest Star Wars and Star Trek films, and The 100), diverse character-driven sci-fi with romance and adventure is something the world needs more of. I look forward to reading it! Watch the first of the new Star Trek films, conveniently titled Star Trek, in the DVD Lobby at 791.43.

Pick one: Invisibility Cloak, Elder Wand, Philosopher’s Stone

The Invisibility Cloak seems to cause as many problems as it solves, and I’m not sure I trust that the Elder Wand won’t corrupt the wielder, so the Philosopher’s Stone. Once upon a time I would have hated the idea of living forever, but my to-read list keeps growing and I’m starting to see how it could be pretty great to watch how society develops. Imagine being able to see our science fiction coming true over the next couple of centuries!

Where is your favourite place to read?

I have a book nook in the study at home, a comfy fouton with a lamp and a stash of blankets next to it. And more importantly, a door that I can close when I need to read quietly.

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Cosier than this, but not quite as awesome…

Paper or e-books?

I like reading a paper book when I can because there’s something really satisfying about how tactile it is, but I probably split my reading fairly evenly across paper books, my Kindle and audiobooks. We have audiobooks of some great fiction, and plenty of non-fiction e-books accessible via our catalogue.

What is your favourite book that no-one else seems to have heard of?

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine is the best version of Cinderella that I’ve ever read. The film was OK but nowhere near as good as the book. Ella is a heroine who never needs saving, and who refuses to let her curse (to be obedient) stop her from doing what she wants to. It’s also a beautiful fantasy adventure with great world-building. My other pick for this would be the Angels Unlimited/Agent Angel series by Annie Dalton, about a teenage girl who dies and becomes an angel, but she thinks she’s not good enough to help other people with their problems. It’s joyful and heartfelt without ever being too cutesy.

Do you prefer to read the book before watching the movie, or watch the movie before reading the book?

I tend to try and read the book first, but for some things, like A Song of Ice and Fire, I find it helpful to have a picture in my head of the characters so I can remember who everyone is, especially when there are loads of quite similar names.

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Keep reading Between the Lines for more staff profiles, book and DVD reviews and news about the latest literary events in Norfolk and beyond.

References:

Beckwith, M. (2014) Chetham’s Library. [photograph] Available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/118118485@N05/15711649217 (Accessed on: 05/09/16)

Fokin, A. (2015) The Three Musketeers. [photograph] Available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/fokinman/16351454713/in/photostream/ (Accessed on: 05/09/16)

fotshot (2015) Untitled. [photograph] Available at: https://pixabay.com/en/film-digital-analogue-photography-1068144/ (Accessed on: 05/09/16)

Jackin, S. (2010) The Narnia Lamp in Durham. [photograph] Available at: https://seymourjacklin.co.uk/2010/12/02/nailing-fantasy-to-the-real-world/ (Accessed on: 05/09/16)

Pryke, P. (2012) The Phoenix. [photograph] Available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/40187740@N00/7776575340 (Accessed on: 05/09/16)

Richard, C. (2006) howl’s moving castle in asahikawa. [photograph] Available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/crichard/426516598/in/photostream/ (Accessed on: 05/09/16)

Tallentire, M. (2016) ‘Was Narnia based on Durham?’, The Northern Echo (Durham Edition) 8 January, Available at: http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/features/leader/14191283.Was_Narnia_based_on_Durham_/ (Accessed on: 05/09/16)

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