This week my guest is Eloise De Sousa who will be sharing a short excerpt from her latest children’s book, Space Dust, that I reviewed a few weeks ago
Before we meet Eloise and discover which questions she has opted to respond to… here is a little bit about her.
Finding heroes and villains is easy – capturing their essence in a story is harder.
Eloise thrives on creating characters that make you want to reach into the book and shake them, hug them or arrest them. Her children’s books follow real life trends told through easy stories that face bullying or social issues which open children’s minds to the opportunity to question the world around them.
With the few books written thus far, Eloise plans to capture more villains and weave more tales to inspire or frighten her readers (whichever is appropriate!). She will be publishing a few more stories in the coming months.
Welcome Eloise and lovely to have you and your book featuring to day.
When you look back on your life, what key elements such as childhood, education, inspiration, experience motivated you to write?
From a very young age, I remember spending time alone. My older brother wasn’t keen on sharing his precious free time with me, unless, of course, we were building something new together, dismantling one of my walking/talking dolls for its motor, or hatching schemes to get back at our parents! At school, I had friends but always counted the hours to home time when I could return to my books and my garden. I do recall my Grade 3 teacher – Mrs O’Malley – inspiring me to enter an Allied Arts Poetry competition, which I did and won. My poem was about a little turtle that was stuck on its shell and couldn’t find a way to right itself. I discovered my ability to use poetry to capture the hopelessness of death from that age. My father loved to keep notebooks. He was an avid reader who would note down any words he didn’t know and look it up in the dictionary, carefully writing the meaning in his little notebook so that he would remember. Latin phrases, quotes and any caption that caught his eye would find its way into his book. One day, he gave me a similar notebook and told me to do the same.
Instead of just words and catch phrases, I made the book into my journal and recorded the people around me, on shopping trips or family visits. It became my best friend that I chatted to and told secrets. Later, I added my stories and poems, hoping they would be safe within the pages of my journal. Unfortunately, I lost them all when moving from place to place in my late teens. Those journals motivated me to write down my dreams and from that, I wrote The Iron Pendulum and Deception, my adult crime novels.
Has writing your books given you personally a different perspective or changed the way you live your life?
Before I had my children, I never took my writing seriously. It was something I could do as a hobby but not a career choice or path I thought possible. Now, after dedicating a few years to actually writing my books, my career path has drastically changed. I now work in a school as a librarian and teach specialist literacy groups within the school. Half my week is spent doing this while the other half pursues the dream of writing and studying for a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. So yes, writing has definitely changed my life.
What is your writing process from first concept through to final editing?
First, there is the inspiration behind the story. In the case of Space Dust, I approached my local library to enquire whether I could run writing workshops for children over the holidays. Instead, they lovely librarian asked me to run a story time featuring one of my books for the Summer Reading Challenge. I know that each challenge usually has a theme and this year’s theme was Space Chase. So, without hesitation, I offered to write a story for the libraries in my area and use the story to promote the Summer Reading Challenge and to encourage more children to visit their local libraries.
The concept was a bit harder. Finding the right story to engage an audience ranging from 4 – 11 year olds was difficult. After my first draft failed to engage the children in my Book Club, I went back to the drawing board and wrote at least nine different stories – all of them as uninspiring as the last. With the help of my youngest sprog and a teacher from my school, we threshed out what was missing from the story and came up with various ideas to engage my young audience.
Taking inspiration from the meeting, I created Little One, who is gender neutral and thought of a current conflict affecting many children – missing their parents when they have to go away for work or other activities. From there, it was a matter of finding the right rhythm and rhyme to get the story moving and within a few days, the story created itself. Mark, the teacher, helped edit the many drafter after that, making sure it was perfect. Then the illustrations had to be drawn and that was very painful as I had different ideas for each one but my hands decided on something else on paper! Soon, the book was formatted and put into my publishing service. Hey presto! The book came to life!
Where do you draw the inspiration for your central characters from, and in particular the book you are featuring today.
Usually, my characters form themselves, building flesh and bone from the characteristics played out in my mind. I see their frowns and hear their laughter; notice the little ticks and fetishes that salivate and slander their bodies and minds. In the case of Little One, I felt the anguish of a child left at home or in the care of a loved one. That sadness when a parent is rushing out the door and forgets how important it is to say good-bye before setting off on their adventure. Little One looks to Big Ox who is a constant and is never quick to anger but always has Little One’s best interests at heart. It’s an easy part to play when you’re not a parent trying to make ends meet, but certainly a reality in this busy world. Their characters play off each other as Big Ox has to find ways to entertain Little One till Mummy returns. Each adventure is not exciting enough, each destination doesn’t hold appeal because Mummy is not there. Big Ox has to find a way to connect with Little One and it’s only through his disappointment in Little One that his little friend realises how important this day is to him and starts to have fun. Creating characters that have depth to them is very important if you want your reader to immerse his or herself into your book – this is something I enjoy doing.
How do you feel we should be encouraging the next generation of writers during childhood, at school and in the home?
Like my character Big Ox, I think that we have the power to inspire young writers through our constancy in writing and sharing what we have learnt with the next generation. Meeting young writers at workshops or libraries during events such as the Summer Reading Challenge allows the next generation to see what we do and ask questions. Sometimes, spending five minutes discussing their stories or going over ideas that they have is enough to motivate them to keep going. I try to keep the fires burning in my young writers by helping them participate in competitions, showing them the process of writing and editing in order to get them published. They learn stamina from entering the NaNoWriMo challenge every November, choosing their word count and meeting it with a half decent story by the end of the month. Last but not least, teaching children to read all genres of books before falling into one category opens their minds to what is out there and what they can write about. All these things can teach the young writers hoping to become great authors of the future.
And now time for a short excerpt from Space Dust and having read the book recently, I can recommend as a wonderful gift for Christmas for children.
Big Ox sat in his comfy chair.
He had great, strong arms and very little hair.
Next to him sat Little One, whose face was pinched and flushed,
with round eyes filled with pools of stars,
that glistened as they gushed
Little One’s mother had gone away
and hadn’t mentioned why.
She was in such a rush to go,
she forgot to say good-bye.
Big Ox hugged his little friend.
“Don’t worry, Little One.
Let’s go on an adventure. I’m sure it will be fun.”
“Where will we go?”
“Up to the stars.
We might just get to see mum
and wave to her from afar.”
©Eloise De Sousa Space Dust
About Space Dust
We’re going on a trip in Big Ox’s canoe. Watch the fire bears roar on Venus as pepper pot trees grow on the moon. As Big Ox steers us to the planets, Litte One wonders if Mum will come home soon.
One of the recent reviews for Space Dust
Space Dust,” is a delightful young children’s tale penned in rhythmic prose, truly this author’s gift to the world. Read this story out loud to hear the measured motion of the words.
When Little One’s mother leaves without saying goodbye, it devastates the tot. Big Ox (Grandpa) comes to the rescue, suggesting an adventure to the stars where Little One can look down and wave at his mum.
Off they set in a canoe to the stars. First up is Venus, then Saturn, and the Moon! Yet everywhere they travel Little One can’t find his mum. Eventually, the little boy falls asleep. Grandpa tucks him in his bed where he dreams of moonbeams and fiery bears dancing in his head.
What a delightful read. Young children who enjoy stories read to them would delight in this book. As a bonus, the illustrations are simple enough for a little one to grasp their meaning.
For me, it was the poetic rhythm of the words that made this story a true delight for young and *ahem* older readers. I received an advance reader copy of the book for this review.
The book is in print and available at LULU books: http://www.lulu.com/shop/eloise-de-sousa/space-dust/paperback/product-24212518.html
And also on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0244808430
And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0244808430
A small selection of other books by Eloise de Sousa
Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Eloise-De-Sousa/e/B00JKTFVXI
And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Eloise-De-Sousa/e/B00JKTFVXI
Read the reviews on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7781215.Eloise_De_Sousa
Connect to Eloise
Thank you for dropping in today and it would be lovely to hear from you in the comments. thanks Sally