Interview/Q&A with Kathy L. Wheeler about her and Amanda Cabe’s book Gaming Hell Christmas (vol.2) Conducted by Louise Cannon (Lou) – Bookmarks and Stages
Recently I had the great pleasure of conducting an interview/Q&A session with Kathy L. Wheeler, an author of Gaming Hell Christmas, volume two. There are 2 mysteries set in fashionable Regency, London, one by Amanda Cabe, the other by Kathy L. Wheeler. Readers, after discovering the blurb, can find out from Kathy herself, what to expect from the book, her inspiration and find out whether she would live in the regency period or not, rule breaking and Christmas, all in 6 questions and answers. Her answers are illuminating and there’s no holding back… Thanks first to Kathy L. Wheeler for taking part and allowing me to interview you for my blog and as part of Rachel’s Random Resources blog tour, to whom I thank for inviting me on to close the blog tour. Without further ado, onto discover the delights of the book and what was said by the author…
GAMING HELL CHRISTMAS – VOLUME 2: Mysteries abound at London’s most fashionable Hell.
The Thief Who Stole Christmas – Amanda McCabe A man who has never broken the rules, and a woman who just might break his heart! But Christmas is always a time for second chances…
As one of Miss Greensley’s Girls, a member of the exclusive club la Sous Rose, and famous author Lady L, Victoria Lanford moves easily through Society ballrooms. Few people know how her unhappy childhood and anxiety led her to pickpocketing (yet, she did return the jewels)! When she comes face-to-face with old flame Rhys Neville, Earl of Hammond, she knows the kind-hearted, straight-laced, devilishly handsome lord is not for her—especially once the past comes back to haunt them. Why, then, can’t she stop thinking about their kisses?
The Kerse Who Saved Christmas – Kathy L Wheeler Kerse: He, of the no nonsense approach, is stymied by She, a woman considered long past prime marriageability who needs a keeper more than he requires a wife. Yet the dreamy-eyed, impractical, and much too optimistic Philomena still manages to steal his heart despite her unrealistic beliefs and trust in fortune tellers.
What can readers expect from your book?
Readers can expect a fun group of characters who attended school together from a young age. Each young woman is her own person and craves their own independence and love story, which Amanda and I strive to provide.
You have a man who has never broken the rules before. If you were to break a rule, what would it be and why?
This is an easy question for us in the twenty-first century compared to the 18th and 19th centuries where things were much more stringent for women. Even men were held to a higher standard. I think those of us who write historical romance are always having our characters “break the rules”. It’s just a matter of degree and what they do when they get caught.
Your book is historical romance? What is your favourite time period to write about it and would you want to live in it yourself?
I love writing the Regency era romance. Would I want to live in that period? Hell, no. Not without a ton of money and great resources to good water and decent medical care.
Who inspired you to write?
I think I was mostly inspired to write by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I’m a huge NFL fan and she wrote the Chicago Stars series. I once met her and asked if she watched (like me). Her answer was a resounding no! I was shocked! And thought, yeah, I could write. Of course, she is miles beyond me, above me, etc. etc.
5. What research into historical exclusive clubs did you need to do and have you ever been to one in present times?
Mostly, it comes from reading the period. It was a fun idea we came up with. Nothing about La Sous Rose would be legit in the period, but it was still fun.
6. How do you like to celebrate Christmas?
My husband and I moved to Western Washington about six years ago. We would spend Christmas at his family’s, but they were real big on my family attending when they were in town—sad but true. Since we’ve moved to Washington, we spend the holidays with my family where there are always extra people to be found.
Today I am delighted to be closing the blog tour with an interview session with Lotte R. James about her new historical fiction book – The Gentleman of Holly Street. Discover why she writes in this genre, but not always, the inspiration to themes and the rags to riches tale of her book, what’s coming next and more in 5 questions. I thank Lotte R. James, Mills and Boon and Rachel Random Resources for this opportunity. Without further ado, follow down to the blurb and then the interview.
Will this Christmas… Change Their Lives Again…
When self-made gentleman Freddie Walton rescued penniless Philomena Nichols at Christmas eight years ago, he never imagined that he would build his empire with her. Yet whilst they have created a life together as friends, Freddie can’t let their special connection become more than that. Not when his dangerous past continues to haunt him… But what happens when Freddie’s feelings for Philomena also refuse to stay hidden?
Welcome to my blog Lotte. Thank you for agreeing to take part in a Q&A session with me about your book and what’s next for you.
What inspired you to write Historical Romance and choose Mills and Boon as your publisher, or did they choose you?
I’ve always loved history, and I think that prompted my interest as a reader in Historical Romance. From there, it was really just wanting to write something in the genre that I loved so much. I did write my debut with Harlequin/Mills & Boon specifically with the Historical line in mind, as it was a literal dream to be part of that collection of incredible authors. It went through quite a few revisions and rewrites, but then I was lucky enough to get the call!
You chose to work with some fairly strong themes – Anxiety, Houselessness, Childhood trauma, Mild violence, Mention of suicidal ideation. What inspired you to write about them?
I think all my books feature fairly strong themes to be honest. Merely because we face some very difficult things in life, and it’s important to me to represent that in what I write. I don’t believe all art should be a mirror of reality, don’t get me wrong, but I do feel that I am, and always have been, personally drawn to exploring the grey areas, of people, and of life. To exploring the challenges we all face, and I think to an extent, showing just how incredible humans are.
What sort of empire does your main character – Freddie build up and what inspires you to a rags to riches story?
Freddie builds up a sustainable and ethical shipping empire. I’ve always loved rags-to-riches stories myself, and I think that’s why subconsciously, when I first introduced Freddie in The Housekeeper of Thornhallow Hall, I introduced him as a self-made man. Throughout history, you have incredible stories of people who succeeded – in a myriad of ways, I don’t mean success here to be merely financial – by being at the forefront of change, and I think that’s an aspect I am often drawn to as well. People who have the vision to make change happen.
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to write in the Historical Fiction genre?
Be passionate about the period you want to write in, and of course, about the genre itself. It isn’t merely about loving old-time clothes, or more polite ways of courting. It’s about finding why you have to write Historical, rather than any other genre; what you want to say, and represent.
What book are you currently reading and are you working on a new book?
I’m currently reading Rogue by Jennifer Bernard – which I’m enjoying very much so far – and yes, I am always working on a new book. Currently, I am juggling three main projects – one Historical and two Contemporary – because my brain will not let me stop… Though I haven’t started my next Harlequin/Mills & Boon yet – that will likely be how I start off 2023!
About the Author
Lotte James trained as an actor and theatre director, but spent most of her life working day jobs crunching numbers whilst dreaming up stories of love and adventure. She’s thrilled to finally be writing those stories, and when she’s not scribbling on tiny pieces of paper, she can usually be found wandering the countryside for inspiration, or nestling with coffee and a book.
Interview with Author – Matson Taylor Conducted By Louise Cannon (Lou)
Thanks very much to author of The Miseducation of Evie Epworth and All About Evie – Matson Taylor for agreeing to being interviewed. Within the interview , discover who inspires him to write and why he chose a particular timeline, his other job and what he is writing next and more…
The Miseducation of Evie Epworth was bestselling in both the Radio 2 Book Club and Richard And Judy Book Club.
Set in Yorkshire and London between the 1960’s and 1970’s. There is humour and poignancy to be had in both books.
Matson Taylor and his creation of Evie Epworth hit the bookshelves and caused quite a stir with witty and charming writing in both books
So, without further ado, here is the interview:
1. What or who inspired you to write?
Many things! I’ve always been a reader and just about every book I’ve ever read has fed into me wanting to be a writer. I think reading Kate Atkinson’s books, in particular, drew me to writing – I love the way she writes – there’s a real sense of fun but at the same time every sentence is beautiful – tuned and balanced to perfection. I wanted to see if I could write a book that combines humour with moments of restrained lyricism just like Kate Atkinson’s. Other authors who inspire me and push me to write better include Virginia Woolf, Sue Townsend, Alan Bennett, and Sarah Winman.
2. The Miseducation of Evie Epworth is set in the 1960s and All About Evie, in the 1970s, what inspired this to be your timeline?
I’m a design historian and -like all historians- talk a lot about decades. I realised that quite a few of my students see decades as monolithic blocks of 10 years with everything staying the same until, on the 1st of January at the start of the next decade, everything changed. It’s not like this of course! Decades take a few years to ‘grow up’ – they need time to shake off the previous decade and develop a character of their own. So I thought I’d write a novel about the ‘coming of age’ of a decade and combine it with the coming of age of a young woman (Evie). I chose the 1960s because everyone feels like they know the 60s – we’re all children of the 60s and very aware of the all the music, fashion, films etc of the decade. And then in the second book I wanted to look at the the end of the 60s and the start of what comes next – and 1972 is really when the sixties ended! It’s the death of the idealism of the 1960s – quite a sad messy time… The new decade wasn’t quite sure where it wanted to go and it’s only really when the new generation came of age that the seventies arrived in all its glam, colourful, glittery glory.
3. The series could have gone either way – humorous as it is now or focusing on the more serious with Mrs Pym, was the humour and balance between the two intentional?
I wanted to write a funny book about serious things and combining the humour with emotional heft was always my intention for both books. I think books need both in order to make them balanced and enjoyable. I’ve had lots of wonderful compliments about how funny the books are but there’s also some pretty dark themes in there too: grief, death, guilt, the importance of liberalism and tolerance… People often tell me they laughed out loud AND cried when reading the books – and that’s just what I want!
4. All About Evie is still as humorous as the first, but shows a bit more fashion of the 1970s. How much did your job as a design historian at the V&A influence you in your writing of this?
It’s a huge influence. My job as a design historian has given me the tools to research material culture – when I started writing the first novel I was very confident writing about ’things’ (the fashion, food, interiors etc) because it’s my day job – I was much less confident about making up a story! The museum’s a great resource too – in fact, in the final chapter of the 1st book, Evie is wearing a Mary Quant dress – initially it was a generic 60s dress but, while I was writing, the V&A had a Mary Quant exhibition so Evie ended up wearing one of the 1962 dresses from the exhibition.
5. You’ve written about the 60s and 70s, so can readers expect more of Evie Epworth to be written, perhaps in the 80s and beyond?
Absolutely! I always planned the Evie story as a trilogy so there’s a final Evie book set in 1982. But before I get to that, I’m writing a stand-alone book (ie non Evie) – it’s set in the mid-to-late 70s in Rome and is the story of two broken people brought together by the universe to fix each other…
Firstly, thank you to Nigel Craft for allowing me to interview you about the music you create, who you like to listen to, the books you read and your social media platforms. Discover upbeat and interesting answers, as well as links to where you can find Nigel’s music.
Delve into a bit of insight into what he produces within the interview. So, let’s proceed onto the first question, of which there are 7.
1. Where does your interest in music come from and what made you decide to sing and put yourself out there on You Tube and Tik-Tok, which now has many followers?
I’m not really sure where I got my music interest from, none of my family are musicians, but ever since I was a kid I loved music. I especially loved music from the movies and computer games and would always look at the credits to see which composer had produced the music and would always watch a movie or play a game if they had composed the music, even if it was rubbish and I guess that’s really what got me into music. The singing part didn’t really surface until I was in my 20’s really. I used to play piano and organ, but could never read music so I used to play by ear and create my own music.
2. You sing a number of ballads and songs from musicals, which is your favourite genre of music to sing?
I love singing ballads and although I love songs from the musicals they are very hard songs to sing. I think ballads are definitely my favourites, but I do love big band as well – the Michael buble style of songs really ,but I will try anything really.
I’m currently finishing off a rock version of my original song which is called “A Love So Strong” which is very different to the ballad version I have already released. I like to challenge myself and do things people that would not expect to hear from me.
3. You did some lockdown concerts on YouTube, what was that like knowing that it was at a time when the world was changing and people truly needed entertaining to keep going? As an artist, did it affect your work?
For me lockdown changed my life! I had been posting cover song videos for a while but I felt people needed cheering up and I ended up writing my first ever song called “ I really want a llama. “ I decided to include some funny clips to play alongside me singing and it was really popular and was entered into an online competition and that made me think that maybe I could write my own songs, after that I write a few more comedy songs. I then branched out into more serious songs reflecting what was happening in and around my life. I had always been told that I would get on better in competitions if I was able to write my own songs and since then I’ve been writing lots of songs. One of my most recent original songs called “This Is Not Goodbye” has reached the semi finals of a major worldwide online songwriting competition, which I still can’t believe.
Going back to my childhood I use a lot of film score sounds in my songs too as I love a song with an orchestral backing.
4. Whois your favourite singer/band of all time and why?
I have a lot of artists I like equally but one artist stands out and that is Celine Dion. She has an amazing voice and some if earlier work is incredible! She is someone I would love to see in concert but I’ve not made it any yet sadly. I also love The Carpenters , Josh Groban, Michael Buble and Tom Odell is another favourite of mine.
5. What was the most recent gig you’ve attended?
I’ve been to a lot of musicals this year which I love going to and have seen shows this year including Mary Poppins, Back to the Future and The Phantom of the Opera; but the most memorable recent concert was a live concert of Jeff Wayne’s musical of War of the Worlds at the O2 in London, that is my all time favourite album and the concert was incredible. I will never forget it! On a smaller scale the last show I saw was a tribute to Karen Carpenter in Bury St Edmonds, it was such an emotional evening as it was like I was seeing a live Carpenters show. The lady singing sounded just like her it was amazing!
6. You like to read. What is your favourite book and what are you reading just now?
The books I read would probably not be what other people would enjoy reading. I’m a big horror story fan and I’ve read a lot of books by an author called Dean Koontz who is my favourite writer. It’s one of his books which is my all time favourite, it’s called Watchers and is such an amazing story. I never thought a book could capture your emotions quite the way this book did. I was captivated from the first page to the last, and yes it is a horror story but it’s also very character driven and you really feel and care for the characters. There is only one book which comes close to matching this amazing novel and that’s Phantoms, again written by Dean Koontz. It was the first book I read of his and it absolute terrified me. Who knew a book could be so scary?
I don’t currently have a book I’m reading at this time as I haven’t really had time recently with my songwriting etc, but I have also enjoyed Stephen Kings Pet Sematary and Bram Stokers Dracula, is another favourite of mine.
7. Where can people find your music and is it all online or do you sing in venues too?
Apart from the odd karaoke I haven’t sung live for a very long time; the area I live don’t hire solo artists like myself. That’s really why I started showcasing my singing online as I thought it was the only way I could reach audiences around the world.
I have a You Tube channel where I upload all my videos first. I currently only have 257 subscribers but that to me is amazing but you can find my channel here:-
My main place for my videos these days is tik tok ,it started slowly but is slowly growing each week ,I have nearly 5000 followers and one of my most recent cover songs has over 105,000 views which is insane. I get comments from all around the world and it really has given me the motivation to carry on. My channel is here:-
Interview with the Secretary of The Oscar Wilde Society
– Vanessa Heron
Conducted By Louise (Lou)
Oscar Wilde, a playwright so many have heard of, created and watched his plays and films inspired by his works. I myself have enjoyed The Importance of Being Ernest in play and film. I have also learnt a lot and very much liked De Profundis, a one-man play by Simon Callow about the later part of Oscar Wilde’s life, who is said to have a passion for Oscar Wilde’s works, to name but a few.
A great opportunity presented itself after coming across the society that gave me the idea to ask Vanessa Heron, the Secretary of the Oscar Wilde Society, to interview her. Thankfully she agreed to answer my 5 questions.
There is a book about Constance Wilde’s autograph book, available soon. The interview leads to this after a bit about the Oscar Wilde Society, how it began and how Vanessa Heron became involved. You will also discover how to join the society and what the secretary’s favourite Oscar Wilde play is. I am delighted to reveal many photos, some with some very well-known people, who the society have had the good fortune and pleasure to rub shoulders with, and also the website. This isn’t a group that always sits or stands still. They go places and they do things.
Thanks first to Vanessa Heron for agreeing to the interview and for providing such fascinating answers. Without further ado, meet the society and discover that there’s more to them that meets the eye in the fascinating, insightful and sometimes humorous answers.
Vanessa Heron – Society Secretary and the Madame Tussaud’s Oscar Wilde model
at a Birthday Dinner at the Cadogan Hotel soon after she joined.
1. How and when did the Oscar Wilde Society come into existence?
The Oscar Wilde Society was founded in September 1990, by a small group of enthusiasts for Wilde and his works, gathered in the Queensberry Room at the Cafe Royal. This was a very appropriate venue. Here Oscar often entertained his guests, including his lover ‘Bosie’ – Lord Alfred Douglas -and here Bosie’s father, the Marquess of Queensberry, objected violently to his son’s association with Wilde.
The original plan was to hold an Oscar Wilde Costume Ball, which never happened.
The Society evolved and today we have members in the U.K., Europe, America and Canada, and as far afield as Australia and South Africa. Our members range from general readers and enthusiasts those who’ve just discovered Wilde to actors, book collectors, students, writers and academics. Anyone interested in Oscar Wilde is welcome to join. We are chatty and friendly at events if you’re lucky enough to be able to come to them, and everyone has a different interest in Oscar and his world, whether it’s his poetry, the Society plays, the picture of Dorian Gray, the fairy stories or the fashion, books and literature of the 1890s more generally.
Some members of the society. To the right, honorary patron – Stephen Fry
The Cadogan Hotel, London.
It’s a hotel with a past and many stories to tell. It is also rather apt for a meeting place on occassion. It was quite the playground for socialites and bohemians like Oscar Wilde.
2. What sparked your interest in Oscar Wilde and how did you become involved as the Secretary?
Looking back I had read the fairy stories in a paperback from a jumble sale when I was a small child. I also envied the other English set at School who read the Importance of Being Earnest. We were reading something rather dull, and this sounded much more fun. But it was at University when I fell in love with a tall dark handsome Rupert Everett look alike who was a fan of Freddie Mercury and used to quote Oscar Wilde in the pub when he was drunk. To try to impress him, I borrowed books from the library to read and to find out more about this Oscar Wilde chap. Of course the chap, Phill turned out to be gay, but I got to read Oscar Wilde’s letters and just fell in love with that voice on the page. The letters are the nearest we will get to hearing Oscar’s voice. Whether he’s being chatty, business-like, self indulgent or charming and kind to his friends, he was a Lord of language eloquent and to the point with flowery interludes and I was hooked. I can’t recommend his letters enough.
I found a mention of the Oscar Wilde Society in the Evening Standard in about 1994 (or it might have been 1996.) I joined straight away and my first event was an AGM at Chelsea Arts Club a couple of months later. I was welcomed by Don Mead, a perfect gentleman who’s still the Chairman and I helped him to put out chairs in the garden for the meeting. I loved the people, the chat and the atmosphere at events. I’d found my friends, indeed my people and have been involved ever since.
Don Mead conned me into joining the committee very quickly and I ended up at various times being Secretary and Treasurer. It was joked early in the history of the Society that we had ‘an illiterate Secretary and an innumerate Treasurer. I’m saying nothing about which I was or who was meant.
About 10 years later I was handed the job of Secretary for a second stint and Don Mead conned me yet again (in the nicest possible way) into editing Intentions, our more trivial journal. Don had decided, in his eighties, that editing both journals was a bit much and it was time for a rest so I got the job. Intentions comes out four times a year and features Society events, reviews, articles, notices of new books and a fair smattering of trivia. Basically anything Wilde which might be of interest to our members. I enjoy following up articles, blogs and people I read on Twitter and persuading them to write articles for Intentions. Choosing the pictures for the cover is one of my not so secret guilty pleasures and I’m very proud of it. It’s an excellent read if I say so myself.
We also have an academic peer reviewed journal edited by theatre historian Robert Whelan which is published and sent out to members twice a year, and an e-newsletter with no limit on space, edited by Aaron Eames. Previous editions of The Wildean are available on Jstor, (the digital academic library) for academics, researchers and students to access.
3. Do you have a favourite play by Oscar Wilde and why?
Out of the plays ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ never stales. How can you beat gossip, secret lives, bitching girls, silliness and cucumber sandwiches? I’ve seen rather a lot of productions and the script is so well written they all have something worth seeing.
I confess, though that I have a particular liking for and interest in one man and one woman shows based on Wilde characters, both real and fictional. Society Patron and friend Neil Titley performed as Oscar in his play ‘Work is the Curse of the Drinking Classes’ for 40 years, which was a class act performed to the Society in a London pub years ago, and more recently Gerard Logan performed a wonderful take on Oscar in ’Wilde Without the Boy.’
Lexie Wolfe does a dramatic and sad show as Constance Wilde in ‘Mrs Oscar Wilde.’ There are also shows about the whole Wilde story including ‘Vengeance’ a recent musical about Oscar’s downfall, by John and Danielle Merrigan which will hopefully be touring again soon. There’s even a play where Lady Bracknell tells her story, written and played by Paul Doust called ‘Lady Bracknell’s Confinement, which was so entertaining I tracked down and interviewed Paul Doust, the writer and actor and made his Lady Bracknell my cover girl.
4. There is a very special book – Constance Wilde’s autograph book that you will be publishing this autumn. How did you discover this? What stand-out names and information can people expect from it? Where can people buy the book?
There are still some people who are surprised that Oscar Wilde was married, and who have only heard about his scandalous affair with Lord Alfred Douglas and his trials and imprisonment for gross indecency. But Oscar was many things apart from a lover of men, including a critic, a poet, a women’s magazine editor, and a socialist and Irish Nationalist. He was also a husband and father of two sons, Cyril and Vyvyan.
Constance Wilde, his wife was a fascinating woman. Irish, beautiful, interested in Liberal politics, dress reform and the occult and they lived in Chelsea in the ‘House Beautiful’ in Tite Street. Constance Wilde kept a visitors book which was signed by celebrities of the day who she admired, including writers, actors such as Henry Irving, Sarah Bernhardt, artists such as Ricketts and Shannon, who drew pictures and a poem to Constance from her husband. Other signatories include Walter Pater, Robert Browning, George Meredith, James McNeill, George Grossmith, G. F. Watts, Mark Twain, Marie Corelli, John Ruskin and Vernon Lee. The book is in the British Library and we hope it will be of interest to everyone interested in the late Victorians.
Our Society Patron, author Eleanor Fitzsimons who wrote a book called ‘Wilde’s Women’ has written about it in her usual eloquent style and I’m not a writer, I’m an art teacher, so I shall simply quote her:
‘What an absolute joy it is to have Constance Wilde’s fascinating autograph book available to us all in such a lovely, wonderfully curated edition. In his introductory essay, Dr Devon Cox does a magnificent job of illuminating and contextualizing Constance’s intriguing life, lifting her free of her husband’s orbit. She is revealed as a progressive woman with a keen interest in literature and music, and a curiosity about the occult. Anyone who is fascinated by Oscar Wilde will welcome this extensively annotated reproduction, which gives us a fascinating portal into the lives of this extraordinary couple and their vibrant circle. Comprehensive profiles of each signatory, and details of the circumstances in which they added their contributions, make it accessible to scholars and interested readers alike. A beautiful book, a wonderful gift, it breathes new life into Constance Wilde’s friendships, interests and accomplishments. An enthralling and valuable resource, it will be treasured for generations to come. ‘
The book will be available for pre-order on the Oscar Wilde Society website soon, and we look forward to launching it in the autumn with a special event for members.
5. How do people join the Oscar Wilde Society and what stand-out features can people expect when they do join up?
You can join the Society on our website at https://oscarwildesociety.co.uk/membership/ Many members particularly those outside the U.K. simply read the journals and interact with us on Facebook and Twitter and you can expect a warm welcome from our membership Secretary Veronika Binoeder. Other members, including some from France, Switzerland, Belgium and even Australia come to events including our annual Birthday Dinner in London and the Summer Magdalen College Lunch, which is sold out for this year. We also have smaller scale more intimate events such authors lunches, lectures and talks and a recent visit to Bedford to look for the aesthetic ‘Patience’ teapot and to hear about aesthetic art and design from an Art historian member, Dr Anne Anderson. Members were thrilled recently to visit the ground floor flat in Tite Street which was part of Oscar and Constance Wilde’s house and to read prose and poetry in what was Oscar’s study where he wrote many of his works. We go to lovely places and do lovely things.
We have delightful Society Patrons, and our President – Gyles Brandreth is both supportive and involved. If I have wetted your appetite to learn more I recommend you read ‘Oscar’ by Matthew Sturgis which is a beautifully researched biography which reads like a novel. Or of course you could join the Society.
The committee and our President meet
a very special guest who knows her Wilde.
You can expect lots of friendly chat at events from all sorts of members and the ‘congenial appreciation of Oscar Wilde’ mentioned on the website generally extends to a pub or bar after an event for a more informal chat and a drink. We like to think Oscar Wilde would approve and we look forward to welcoming new members.
You can contact me or any of the other committee members via our Website and I’d be delighted to answer questions from any prospective members.
Interview with Siena About her new children’s book – Why We Walk
It was a pleasure to interview Siena – the author of Why We Walk, a Canadian who writes stories for young children that are relatable and entertaining for children the world over. This one is suitable for 1-6 year olds. You will find out why it was written, her passion for people walking and the environment, how she puts her books together and how the writer/illustrator working relationship came about. Finally you will find a little about how Siena felt when her first book got published and how she had to convince her family.
First, find out about the blurb and then onto the 5 questions in the interview.
When we walk we see things that we would have missed if we drove. Things like birds, cats, & squirrels. When we walk we have fun spending time together. We talk and learn how walking can help to care for our planet. Join Siena and her dad as they walk to school and discover every little step counts.
This is the second book in the Siena’s Stories series. The first book, The Dance of the Snow Tractors, was named a top book for children in the automobile category by Newsweek magazine.
Now onto the interview…
You have a clear passion for walking and inspiring young children to get outside to walk, what inspired you to write the book – Why We Walk? Also, what is your favourite types of places to walk?
This book was my first idea for a book. It just came to me when my daughter asked me that simple question while we walked to school. I like to walk and really enjoy birdwatching. I walk almost daily for exercise and enjoy trying to find my favourite bird, the cardinal.
What inspired you to care about the environment?
I grew up on a small island off the coast of British Columbia and learned about sustainability at an early age. I also saw the destruction of the land by the mine my parents worked in and the clear cutting of the old growth forest by a nearby logging settlement. It seemed like every year the clear cuts got closer and closer to my island and they were ruining the amazing view I had of the surrounding forest and ocean from my window. I will always remember waking up early to eat breakfast and watching all the stars in full view without the big city lights.
I also have fond memories of the many times Green Peace ships would visit our settlement and share their stories.
Do you find that by writing children’s books about walking and how this helps the environment then rubs off on adults. I had a primary school teacher who had a passion for the environment in the 90’s and a lot permanently rubbed off on me and positively impacted my thinking. Do you think books like yours has a real impact for the longer term how children think as they grow into adults?
I have faith that children today are much more aware of how their parents polluted the planet and will take measures to combat climate change. My book will be a small reminder. I also believe technology will help them along the way. I used to work in the power electronics industry and have first hand experience with solar, wind and micro hydro installations. They are becoming more affordable everyday. I tell my daughter that even small simple changes like LED lighting will make a huge difference over time.
You have an illustrator – Shannon Wilvers. How did this working relationship come about and can you give a little insight into the process of you both working together to create a finished story?
I had come up with the idea for my book a few years ago but I cannot draw. I do collect original comic book art and have a side job selling movie memorabilia at comic conventions. At the various shows I met a local comic artist (Geof Isherwood) who also teaches art at a local technical school. I discussed the book with Geof and he introduced me Shannon who was his student at the time.
I use Microsoft Powerpoint to write the books. I create a slide and put in the text. Next, I insert a personal picture or a picture from the internet as reference for Shannon. When I am done, I send the file to Shannon. She creates a storyboard and we fine tune the art and text.
Your first book – The Dance of the Snow Tractors, was named a top book for children in the automobile category by Newsweek magazine. How did that make you feel and how did you celebrate?
I was over the moon. I had a hard time convincing my family and friends that I was serious about writing these books. Newsweek helped bring them over to my side.