Name: Gina Kershaw
Day job: I’m in the final months of my English Literature degree at the University of Huddersfield so I suppose my day job is being a student! I’m also participating in an internship for this lovely website which is brilliant because I’d love to become a full-time writer when I graduate.
Extra-curricular: I’m a self-indulgent procrastinator so I blog quite a lot about every day events, literature, and the odd feminist rant.
I love all kinds of writing whether it be academic or creative, so I spend most of my time doing that.
I find sketching and painting really cathartic so I’ll happily spend an afternoon doing that, and I received a very generous Christmas gift of a (sparkly!) drum kit so I’m teaching myself to play those. My neighbours love me.
One time in college I was helping to clear out the English store room and I was allowed to take home a massive box full of free books which included The Magic Toyshop and I fell in love instantly, I think everything about it is just brilliant.
Literary pet peeves: Badly written romances. I don’t mean romance novels, but the romances within novels. I class a badly written romance as one that makes me feel awkward to read it.
Take Harry and Ginny’s relationship for instance: the first time they kiss in the Gryffindor common room always, without exception, makes me cringe, so I just have to skip it.
It’s not like JK can’t write a decent romance – I love the way in which Ron and Hermione’s relationship develops, it’s realistic and beautiful. I just don’t like feeling awkward in my own imagination. Check out the Bad Sex Awards if you agree with me.
This is less of a literary pet peeve and more of a reader pet peeve – I dislike people that look down on genres like ‘chick-lit’. It’s the same as people that are snobs about music and tv; everyone has the right to read the genres they enjoy without others looking down on them.
Of course there are plenty of awful ‘chick-lit’ novels out there, but there’s bad writing in every genre – just because it has a sparkly cover doesn’t make it bad. I just strongly dislike literature snobs.
Guilty pleasure: I love the Georgia Nicholson series. I read them through my teenage years because I found them hilarious, and sometimes it’s nice to return to that world for an hour or so after a busy day. I also love cheesy American dramas like Gossip Girl and Gilmore Girls…basically anything with the word ‘girl’ in the title.
Three favourite authors: Angela Carter is a given. I think everyone should have to read at least one of Margaret Atwood’s novels, especially The Handmaids Tale. I suppose Irvine Welsh would be my third choice, I’ve never read anything like his writing before, it’s incredible. I’d recommend Glue.
Favourite fictional character: I’ve spent ages trying to think of some obscure favourite fictional character and I’ve been pretty unsuccessful. I love strong female characters, especially in children’s and YA literature because it’s so important for children to realise that the woman doesn’t always have to be rescued – Matilda is a classic example of this, and though it pains me to use another Harry Potter reference, Hermione is brilliant because more often than not, it’s her that’s saving the boys, not the other way round.
Other recommended reading: If there’s anyone out there that hasn’t read it yet, then Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Then take a walk up to Top Withens (apparently the place she was inspired by for the tale) near Haworth to see the setting through her eyes. It’s bleak and it’s passionate and I love it.
Every woman should read Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism by Natasha Walter. Think that feminism is out-dated? Read this book and think again. It sounds dramatic to say this but it honestly changed my outlook on everything. Caitlin Moran’s How To Be a Woman is also an interesting read, and Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture by Ariel Levy.
Wise Children by Angela Carter is the funniest and saddest book I’ve ever read. “What a joy it is to dance and sing” is one of my all time favourite quotes. Just read everything by Carter. Every novel and every short story is different.
It might not be proper reading, but I’m a sucker for my magazines, so I always recommend Oh Comely magazine. It’s always funny and interesting, and it looks like a piece of art work so I think it’s a really good coffee table investment, as well as a good way to pass a few hours.