Inheritance Books – Henriette Gyland

This week the lovely Henriette Gyland shares her Inheritance Books. I met Henri at the RNA conference earlier this year. She was the only other person in the room who knew what a merkin was.  Although none of us were sure why anyone would need one.

Hi Henriette, welcome to Inheritance Books, tell me a bit about yourself.

I grew up in Northern Denmark but moved to England in the early 1990s, and now live in a lively suburb of London. For as long as I can remember I’ve been making up stories – this wasn’t always easy for my parents when they were trying to get the truth out of me. Sometimes even I didn’t know what the truth was! After winning the Festival of Romance New Talent Award last year, I signed a book deal with the independent publisher Choc Lit, and my first novel Up Close is out in December. When I’m not writing, I work as a translator, which for me is not a completely unrelated area.

Which book have you inherited from the generation above you?

When I was 13, my father offered to read The Hobbit aloud to me and my younger sister. I was in the beginnings of my “hero phase”, and at first I thought, how can a hole-dweller with hairy feet possibly be a proper hero? But Bilbo Baggins turned out to be totally unforgettable, as were all the other characters in that book. When we moved on to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I was well and truly hooked and would beg my father to continue reading, until the poor man turned hoarse! Today, I will re-read both The Hobbit and the LOTR trilogy on a regular basis. Not only are they superb adventures, they also made it legitimate for me to believe in fairy tales, in dragons and magic, in good versus evil. I didn’t care that my friends thought I was weird – as far as I was concerned, they were the ones missing out.

Which book would you like to leave to future generations? Why is it special? 

Gosh, where do I start? There are so many goods books out there which will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading them, but it’ll have to be one by my all-time favourite author, the American sci-fi writer Connie Willis. I literally devour her books when they come out, but have chosen the one entitled Passage. It’s a book about love, friendship, politics, and manipulation. About a sprawling never-quite completed urban hospital as an analogy for the human brain. It’s about the Titanic, and yet… it’s not. Actually, it’s about death. Why have I chosen this one, you might ask? Because we all encounter death at some point in our lives, either through bereavement or from the inescapable fact that one day we’ll have to face our own. Connie Willis has managed to create a work on the subject which is funny, tragic, poignant, and also uplifting. I read it when it was first published in 2001, read it again when a friend of mine died, aged 39, and felt… well, reassured. It’s quite simply a stunning book.

I think The Hobbit is a lot more fun than LOTR. I was so intrigued by your description that I bought myself a copy of Passage. I’m about half was through it now and really enjoying it so far.

You can connect with Henriette at her website (, on Facebook  or chat to her on Twitter: @henrigyland.

Herniette’s debut novel Up Close is published by Choc Lit and out on the 7th December 2012.

17 thoughts on “Inheritance Books – Henriette Gyland

  1. Back in the Seventies my boyfriend (now dh) loaned me his hefty one volume paperback edition of LOTR to take to Canada with me. I was using one of those Greyhound tickets. I travelled from Toronto to Calgary non-stop, which meant sleeping on the bus for two nights. I don’t know what I’d have done without LOTR – it made a great pillow.


  2. I didn’t really get on with the LOTR books either, but I really enjoyed The Hobbit.
    I’m taking my time reading Passage. I’m reading the physical book of it (rather than the eBook) and I keep putting the book down and forgetting where I left it.
    Re Merkin – when I was at uni, I met a guy whose nickname was Merkin. He had very curly hair…


  3. I can’t get on with The Hobbit at all, Henri, I’m afraid; nor the LOTR trilogy. Not my sort of books at all. I don’t like fantasy. I shall certainly read Passage, though. It sounds something that I would enjoy – if enjoy’s the right word.


  4. Glad to hear many of you agree with me on the LOTR trilogy, and some of you re. The Hobbit. I loved the films and am really looking forward to The Hobbit as well, although I did wonder why they had to make it in three parts? It’s not that long a book!
    Re. Connie Willis, I take Alison’s point about Blackout, which is on my pile of Books To Read, but anyway I’m happy to get the one that follows after that because I love her books. I do hope those of you who’ve decided to read Passage that you’ll enjoy it.


  5. I could cheat and Google ‘merkin’ and pretend I know what it is too….but I’ll confess I don’t.

    Passage sounds intriguing, and a book about death that’s reassuring is a must!

    The Hobbit wasn’t an inheritance book for me, but it’s thanks to JRR Tolkien that I can call myself a (nearly) published author…


  6. Gwen – Ah, well, a merkin is, ahem, a wig a person might wear over her pubic area. Sharon Stone famously wore one for the leg-crossing scene in “Basic Instinct”, which was when I first came across the term. Have no idea what a biggin is, but I’m intrigued!
    I hope you enjoy “Passage”. it certainly changed my perspective on a few things.


    1. Mmmm now I know what a merkin is! I’m glad I’m not the only one who neither knew nor googled. A piggin is not nearly so interesting. It’s a one handled pail (on one side only, to sit between your legs when hand milking.


      1. Gwen, I Googled ‘Piggin’ and got this:
        Piggin – When a group of daring men bet to see who can bring home the fattest chick at the club.

        Oh dear. It came from the Urban Dictionary, so it’ll be slang. 🙂


  7. I have to admit I tried to read The Hobbit and gave up after a few chapters – just couldn’t get into it! And I only read the LOTR trilogy after seeing the films, which I loved. I will definitely read your other recommendation though! And yes, what IS a merkin? 🙂


  8. Interesting choices, Henri. I love the whole LOTR trilogy: heroic struggle, flawed characters overcoming their less admirable sides, magnifcent backdrop, magical immortal beings,swords, archery, earth forces – what’s not to like?
    Connie Willis, hm. I didn’t like her Blackout which left the story suspended at a very unsatisfactory point, almost forcing you to buy the next one to find out the resolution. But on your recommendation, I’ll read Passage.

    And do you know what a snicket is? 😉
    (Actually, you might, speaking Danish.)


  9. I really enjoyed reading about your choices Henri and I feel I must now read Passage for myself after your recommendation.
    So what is a merkin? Do you both know what a piggin is?


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