I’m really excited to share Ngaire Elder’s interview on the blog today. She’s a wonderful writer, and passionate about children’s literature, inspiring kids to develop a love of reading, and the great outdoors. I don’t think you can ask for anything more when you choose fiction for your child. (We’re reading The Adventures of Cecilia Spark at the moment and my boys love it!) Please read on and find out all about Ngaire, and take a look at her books, which are highly recommended for quality fiction that’ll have your children dreaming up their own adventures.
Can you tell us about The Adventures of Cecilia Spark?
It is a juvenile fiction series which starts with Cecilia Spark having the adventure of a lifetime in the Brimstone Forest where she meets her brave companion Soldier the Mouse, who joins her on her adventures. There are currently 3 books in the series – The Brimstone Forest, The Mystical Mountains of Terra, and Dragon’s Star.
My aim is to inspire children to read and motivate them to explore the great outdoors. I do this by creating a magical world of rivers and forests and mountains, populated with animals big and small. The adventures are bursting with thrills and spills, with a humorous streak running through each chapter. I hope to inspire their imagination and encourage them to get outside and learn more for themselves, or at least, to pick up a book about the natural world in which they live.
My work is illustrated by Peter Maddocks and his interpretation of the story through his illustrations adds a new perspective; a story within a story. This was once a very common device in children’s literature and it is now coming back into fashion.
What age group would this be suited to?
It is aimed for 5-9/10 year old boys and girls.
Could you share an excerpt?
I would love to share an excerpt – this is from the latest book The Adventures of Cecilia Spark: Dragon’s Star.
Cobwebs were everywhere; in places, they were as thick as candy floss! Orson was looking at Cecilia when his eyes widened, and he stood as still as a statue.
“Don’t move, Cecilia!” whispered Orson.
“What are you looking at … what’s going on?” Cecilia spun round and came face-to-face with the predator Orson had seen.
The creature hung from a thick thread suspended from the ceiling. It didn’t move, just watched. It was a huge spider with massive hairy legs, two of which had pincers on them, like a crab. Its big eyes were green, and drool dripped from its large mouth, which it opened and closed noisily, salivating at the thought of devouring Cecilia.
Before Cecilia could scream, the gargantuan spider cast its silk and started to cocoon her.
“Do something, Orson!” shouted Cecilia.
Orson looked at Cecilia with worried eyes; he didn’t know what to do, and the spider had bound Cecilia up to her waist.
“The staff!” yelled Ractus.
Orson looked at the staff and pointed it at the spider shouting, “Fire!”
Nothing happened. He shook his head; it was full of conflicts and confusion, which kept him from focusing properly.
The spider glanced briefly at Orson; it stopped spinning, grabbed Cecilia with one of its pincers and scuttled down a tunnel, leaving a trail of echoing screams.
Where did the idea spring from?
From my imagination which flows fast and delves deep! I love writing for children and losing myself in their magically pure world.
An interesting snippet: The castle in Dragon’s Star, Nilloch Castle, was inspired by Chillon Castle in Switzerland where Lord Byron carved his name on a pillar. I love Byron’s poem The Prisoner of Chillon which is based on a monk who was imprisoned there from 1530-1536.
What are you working on now?
Having just published 2 children’s books – Dragon’s Star and My Nature Friends – I’m having a breather. Of course, I am constantly thinking of ideas for more stories and jotting down notes! Between you and me I have the next story for ‘My Friends’ book, so I will start that soon.
So, for the moment, I am concentrating on school and library visits both in the UK and Spain. I think that will probably take up quite a lot of my time. Reading to children is what I love most of all. Their interaction, questions, enthusiasm and bubbly characters. If, through these reading events, 2 or 3 children take an active interesting in the world of books then I will feel satisfied.
I celebrated this year’s World Book Day with the pupils of St Anthony’s College, Mijas Costa, Spain. That was a magical experience.
Do you have any writing rituals you live by?
A lot of thinking, sharpening of pencils, note taking, charting, lists, lists and more lists, and ‘what if’ questions! I research my ideas and look for images on the internet to spark my imagination.
Music and definitely NO KIDS in the house!!!!
Bec: It’s much easier alone!
Who are your favourite authors for children?
Wow, where do I start. Roald Dahl, Spike Milligan, Enid Blyton, Beatrix Potter, A A MILNE, Julia Donaldson, to name but a few traditional published authors.
And from the Indie-author circuit, Nicola Palmer, Kate Tenbeth, K Meador and D M Andrews.
Bec: We ADORE Julia Donaldson!
How long have you been writing?
Since I was a child; I wrote plays! But it wasn’t until about 7 or 8 years ago I managed to find the time to put pen to paper. I wish I had kept those plays, I am sure I would have had a chuckle reading them again.
Are you a plotter or a panster?
A bit of both. I tend to plot my story but not in any great detail. I ask myself a lot of questions and do quite a bit of research, which is one of the best parts.
My characters surprise me on their adventures and they sometimes choose a path that I wouldn’t have chosen.
After completing the first draft, my editor, Mary Ann Bernal, scrutinises it with a fine tooth-comb.
My bio, oh my goodness, I think a well-thumbed copy of Whitaker’s Almanack would make more exciting reading (hahahahahahahaha) – here it is:
“Ngaire Elder, author of The Adventures of Cecilia Spark novels, is a natural storyteller whose love of animals is reflected in her work”.
I was born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, where I spent most of my childhood playing with my brother and my imaginary friends. As a child, I wrote plays, just for fun, but it would be years before my first book was ultimately published.
After college and university, I embarked on a career in the health and safety sector. As a Health and Safety Advisor, I was instrumental in implementing health and safety laws in the workplace. After meeting my husband, I chose a new occupation, and became a full-time wife and mother.
In the past decade, I have managed to balance a writing career and family commitments. I have participated in reading events at primary schools in County Derry, Northern Ireland, Seeley Primary School, Sherwood, and have taught English to young children participating in the Spanish school system’s extracurricular activity programme. I have been interviewed extensively by European and American bloggers, and my work has been featured in Indie Author News, British Indie Fiction, the Coleraine Times, and The Nottingham Post.
I am a passionate supporter of horse rescue, having volunteered in a rescue center in southern Spain. I am actively involved in fund raisers supporting not only local rescue centers, but also for international programs, such as saving the wild mustangs in the Pryor Mountain range in Montana.
I reside in Spain with my husband and four children.
Where can we find you?
Twitter – @NgaireInfo
Blog – http://adventuresofceciliaspark.blogspot.co.uk/
Amazon Author Page – http://www.amazon.com/Ngaire-Elder/e/B006VXOUN8
And here is a synopsis for My Nature Friends – A-Z Rhyming Picture Book. Ngaire’s daughter, Fearn, illustrated the book beautifully, and i will be ordering this for my kids!
My Nature Friends is a superbly illustrated A-Z alphabet book, all about stimulating imagination, inspiring learning and encouraging a lifelong thirst for natural knowledge in 5-10 year old boys and girls. Inside, there is stacks to do. Enchanting rhymes, sprightly illustrations to be coloured in, and a splendid, interactive, ‘Field Note’ section for those discoveries your child makes while out-and-about. Parents will encounter all sorts of crazy animals they can learn about too! A charming addition to your child’s library, My Nature Friends is full of ingenious fun and will provide hours and hours of amusement for the whole family.