Does the thought of lending a book fill you with dread or are you happy to share the joy of a book?
What has your experience been with lending books? I have suffered the lost of books but also the happy return of some too. It has enlightened me to whom I should lend to and who not! So what are the ‘rules’ for borrowing?
There are a few rules to lending a book. Please add any you can think of too.
Don’t eat messy foods while reading a book – yours or anyone else’s for that matter.
Please tell us the story behind your new book, Home.
My new book is the bookend of the Friends and Family series about Fluffy the cat and Levi the mouse. This book in the series was more challenging to write than the others because the series was written for my mom, and she passed away two years ago. My mom was my hero, and my best friend. She always provided me with a sense of security and home. As a family, we shared a love of reading, and my mom made sure, whether I was staying in the hospital or at home, that the routine of reading to me before bed was a constant.
As an adult, my mom’s macular degeneration made reading a challenge so I would read out loud to her. Then as her dementia progressed, she found a renewed passion for children’s literature. This series was based on a childhood pet of my mom’s and has a diverse character, which I wish I had to identify with when I was a child. Despite dementia stealing my mom’s words, the smile on her face and her reaching out to grab and hold Don’t Eat Family communicated her love and appreciation.
Mom would’ve wanted me to finish the series despite the fact that during the writing process and now the launch of Home, she would not be here in person. My illustrator, Katherine Restouiex, who also knew my mom, made the human character a cartoon version of her. While writing this last book in the series, memories mom and I shared and the lessons that she taught me were reminders that she will always be with me.
As the third in the series, does it complete the series?
Yes, Home completes the Friends and Family series.
How did you come up with the idea for the series?
My inspiration for this series came from a childhood cat Mom had and the fact that cats and mice don’t usually get along. This series was an exploration into each character’s ability to make their own decisions based on who they want to be and not who they are told to be by society. I wanted my characters to travel through the world with kindness, respect, and a belief in the goodness of people.
Can you tell us about the characters and how you created them?
The character of Fluffy is based on a grey Persian cat that my mom had as a child. The character Levi is based on some of the strong and independent individuals I have met who experience disability. Maybe even a little part of myself is in the character of Levi.
In Don’t Eat Family what is the message you wanted to convey?
The main messages that I was trying to convey in the book Don’t Eat Family were that, just like Fluffy and her decision to be friends with Levi versus be a mouser as some cats are, you could be who you are and not give in to peer pressure. Also, individuals experiencing a disability may experience challenges but have other abilities and should not be judged by the way they get around in the world.
In Help from Friends do the characters follow on from the first book?
Yes, the characters in Friends and Family continue along the journey to find their way home, a journey that started in the first book.
Did you start out planning a series, or did the story and characters dictate more stories?
No, I didn’t start outlining a series, but the characters and the story dictated more books because their adventures required more pages than I wanted to squeeze into one book.
Tell us about your writing life – what other books/plays have you written?
Today I am ‘interviewing’ one of the main character’s from Creature Hunt on Planet Toaria, a YA novella. Lenni is the main instigator in persuading her three friends to seek out the invading alien monster on their planet.
Can you tell us about why you live on another planet instead of Earth?
I can tell you what I know from history lessons. The human race suffered multiple pandemics over decades, which decimated the world population. In an effort to save the human species, one hundred generation ships were built and several space stations. These were built to offer a temporary home above the planet until the virus’ could be controlled or eliminated.
So how did you get here?
The expected term for being on the ships was extended over and over for years until each generation ship struggled to sustain its population. As the remaining human population on Earth died, a decision was made to head out in as many different directions as possible. The hope was that one or more of the generation ships would find a suitable planet to populate. After many years my ancestors ship found Toaria.
So then they landed and built all the domes?
It took another generation to build the domes and establish the growing pods. Several new technologies were created so that ‘soil’ was artificially grown from agar, molds and vermiculite and then seeds regenerated from capsules that had been frozen in transit.
Can you describe Planet Toaria?
It is mainly rock and dust but there are frackist trees and whickety vines. We have two moons and when they align, the sky becomes magenta then burgundy before total darkness. That’s our curfew time – we must be home by then. All the other plants are from germination of seeds brought here and cultivated in the home dome’s central gardens or in the growth pods. We have metal paths in-between the home domes and the community domes. Apart from the living areas, there is a complex of industry domes restricted to only workers and the military. Most of the planet is uninhabited still but as our population grows we expand with more sections.
Can you describe frackist trees and whickety vines, they sound fascinating?
The trees have thick trunks, which are topped with branches that look like an upside-down scalene triangle. They have sticky buds, which you mustn’t touch as the sap causes instant numbing to anything it touches. Climbing them is discouraged because of that. The vines have a natural luminescence in the leaves and they are planted along the main paths to grow along them and climb the metal columns.
I noticed that you do not have ‘normal’ pets, like dogs and cats. What do you have instead?
No, we do not have animals as such on Toaria, they were not allowed on the first ships from Earth. We have robotic ‘pets’ or bots as we call them. Each child is assigned a bot when they are born. It is a protector as well as a companion. They are made up of a series of metal intersecting plates, have compartments for supplies and technology and power up overnight as we sleep.
Can you tell us a little about the alien invader?
Initially, no one knew there was an invader but then my bot, Bubble chased off something and did not return for a long time. This is unheard of as they are to stay with their owner no matter what. When Bubble was found, his recording data did not identify what the thing was and that’s when I began to wonder.
Why did you decide to find the alien with your friends?
At first I thought it would be a fun thing to do with Troon, Braze and Nevis. You know to explore a little further than we are allowed. There are sections to the habitat only open to the military. I didn’t really think we would find it! As our search continued it got more serious and we all thought it would be an excellent way to be considered for a position within the security force.
Thank you for being with us today, Lenni and telling us about your life on Planet Toaria.
If you want to know more of the story the e-book is available here, on Smashwords, Kindle, Kobo and Barnes & Noble.
When I virtual chat with writing friends most of them say they feel generally lethargic. It is not just their writing life and routine that has changed but also life in general has restricted their creativity. With limited interactions, we do not have access to our normal writing routines. We may have people in the house not normally there, or meetings and events that sparked our imaginations are cancelled. Whatever our normal was, we are being proactive in protecting our loved ones from this horrid disease by staying home.
When I looked up lethargy, I was surprised at how many definitions it has. All of which describe beautifully our current state.
So let’s take one of these and use it in a writing exercise. Write a poem or short story about a character affected by it.
Use the comment section to leave your response.
As writers we can use what prompts us to create. Use this experience in the same way. Make it a positive. Finish that novel, short story, poem. Create a new one using this experience as inspiration. Reorganize your physical or virtual writing files. Research new story ideas. List writing projects you want to achieve. Revisit old story ideas or manuscripts – can they be resurrected?
Many of us are finding the lock downs, social distancing and isolation difficult to cope with. Logically we know it is the best possible way to curb the spread of this horrid disease but humans are social animals. The most basic interactions are forgone as we protect our loved ones, whether family or friends. We miss the hugs, the physical closeness – over tea or coffee, a lunch or dinner date, groups we normally attend, family visits and more.
However, we are in an era of excellent technology that allows us to connect – if not physically – as least visually. All social media sites are open for us to message or video with each other. There are many video conferencing apps for group chats, we can even have watch parties. So it is not so bad.
Imagine this change happening in the 1960’s or 1970’s when a rotary phones or letters were your main options for connection. At least we have instant options now.
We endeavour to ‘busy’ ourselves with a multitude of activities available to us within our homes. There is an increase in books sales (happy author here for one!) gardens are being tended, DIY projects completed, spring cleaning finished, increased book reading, board & card games played, jigsaw puzzles completed. ‘Old’ toys are seized from closets, basements and attics and dusted off and enjoyed.
Maybe look on the positive side – it is more ‘family’ time instead of ‘screen’ time. Embrace the new and be creative.
Take care #stayhome and #stayhealthy
Keep #reading #books! And remember to review each one.