For those of you who have been following my blog to date know just how high in regard I hold the concept of children’s reading habits. After the recent success of articles based on the perspective of school librarians with respect to children’s reading, (here I would like to give a huge shout out to all of you who took the time to send me a message of encouragement, support and thanks), I wished to turn my attention to fellow authors of children’s stories.
I can tell you from past experience that the joys of writing a story geared toward younger readers is truly a wonderful endeavour but it is not always that easy to get children to know about the book, particularly if the story is in eBook format. Clearly children do not have the facility to order books online without the permission and help from an adult and in the vastness that is the Internet, an author’s website is but a tiny drop in the huge ocean of information.
As a result of this, I wish to support my fellow authors by featuring a number of recent interviews I had with some wonderful authors who are genuinely great people and share my passion for children’s reading.
To all parents and educators reading the following and upcoming interviews, I would like to highly recommend the books featured for your children/students and ask you to show your support to these hard working people by, where applicable, acquiring a copy of their publication for your child/children/students to read or perhaps for yourselves as well.
Editor note: The novel mentioned in the following article is targeted for adult readers who enjoy Science-Fiction novel and is not a children's novel.
What inspired you to become an author and how long have you been writing books?
I’ve loved reading since I was about eight years old. There’s nothing quite like getting lost in a book, and I especially loved reading series’. Starting a new book about familiar characters felt a little like coming home. After a while, I realized I wanted to give that feeling to others, but it was several years before I started writing books that I felt passionate about. I’ve been writing books for about ten years now. I just published my first novel, Spyridon, back in August.
How did you come up with the idea for your book?
My husband and his friend were talking about an upcoming science fiction movie about a man going to an alien planet and saving the people there. I remember thinking, Why is it always a man? At the time, books like Hunger Games hadn’t come out, and I was ready for a story about a woman who saves the world. The rest of the idea evolved from there.
Can you provide readers of this article with a short synopsis about your book?
Spyridon is about a woman who’s destined to free an enslaved planet. It’s basically a space opera with spies and super powers. Our hero, Jane, is kidnapped by rebels from the enslaved planet Spyridon. They think she can use her rare healing ability to help them defeat the warlord who conquered their world. But the ship they’re taking her home on is infested with enemy spies. When crew members start dying, they realize the war might be closer than they think.
What do you think readers will find most appealing about your books?
The most consistent comment I’ve gotten about Spyridon is how real the characters feel. If you’re looking for a book with diverse characters you want to root for, Spyridon is for you.
Tell us about your main characters.
Spyridon has an ensemble cast, but Jane and Mikhél are the main characters. Jane is a hermit who would prefer to be anything but. She’s determined, empathetic, and wants to save everyone – even when she knows it’s impossible. Mikhél has spent his whole life hiding his true loyalties, and he has a hard time letting anyone get close, even when he finds himself increasingly attracted to Jane. He’s fiercely committed to doing the right thing although it often makes his life harder. There are three other rebels, Eithné, Leima, and Valaer, who are helping Jane and Mikhél. Eithné is an old woman who has by necessity become a doctor of sorts. She’s helping Jane learn how to control her new healing ability. Valaer is an aging artist turned repairman who’s tasked with teaching Jane about her new culture. He’s haunted by the recent death of his mate, though, and might make some dangerous decisions as a result. And Leima is shy and nervous and believes whole-heartedly that Jane will save them all.
Tell us about your illustrations.
Spyridon is an adult novel and has no illustrations. The cover art is original artwork by artist Barbara Psimas of Tallahassee, FL, though. She was incredibly patient and flexible in helping me bring the concept to life.
What do you hope readers learn from your book?
I hope readers come away from Spyridon with a sense of how important kindness and determination are to any endeavour. I believe that strength is about much more than physical prowess and that empathy is never a sign of weakness.
What other books have you written?
Spyridon is my first novel. I’m currently working on the sequel, which I hope to publish next year.
Are you currently working on any other writing projects?
I’m currently working on The First Watcher, which is book II of the Spyridon Trilogy. In The First Watcher, Jane has to search for a weapon that will defeat the warlord while Mikhél acts as a double agent to keep the warlord off Jane’s trail.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Do you have any words of advice to parents who may have children who do not readily look to picking up a book to read?
Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding the right subject matter. I was a school psychologist before I had my oldest child, and we used to suggest to parents that any reading can help. If your child doesn’t enjoy fiction, try nonfiction. If they don’t enjoy books, try magazines. Whether it’s Harry Potter or Motorcycles Weekly or National Geographic, as long as they’re reading, they’re learning and growing.
As for really little ones, I’ve found that repetition is key. My youngest got so frustrated with reading when we first started trying books. She was about eight months old, and all she wanted to do was play with the pictures or chew on the book itself. I was baffled, because my oldest loved to read from six months on. Then it occurred to me that Little Sister might not understand what was really going on with the book. So I picked one simple touch-and-feel book and read it to her over and over. After a week or two, she started to love that book. A little more repetition, and she’s enjoying branching out with new books. I think she just needed to understand that books are different from other toys, and for that, she needed to experience the story a few times.
Do you have any suggestions or tips to children when choosing a book to read?
Find something interesting. If you like the character or the topic or something else about the story, reading will be fun. And don’t ever feel like you have to like what everyone else likes. There are a lot of different types of books out there for a reason. Have fun exploring them.
I hope you enjoyed this interview and will give strong consideration to acquiring Lillian's book for your own personal library. We have some other great authors lined up for you in the days ahead and hope that you will find value in these articles for both yourself and for your children. If you haven't already done so, I'd like to encourage you to subscribe to my blog so that you will be the first to be informed of new and informative articles as they are published.