Month: April 2014
Hello everyone, let me introduce you to Ngaire Victoria Elder, who is the author of the Cecilia Spark, children’s adventure books. She has been very kind in letting me interview her for my blog – I hope everyone enjoys the interview!
Let’s start, tell me about yourself, the author?
I am a married mother of four magnificent children, originally from Scotland and now settled in Southern Spain, in a small farmhouse, surrounded by lovely plants and animals of all types. I have written three well received children’s books as part of a series called The Adventures of Cecilia Spark and look forward to carrying on with that. I am a voracious reader and am rarely without an on-going book and as part of my work as a children’s author, I visit schools in Spain and the UK and read to young children, with the express purpose of encouraging literacy, a love of animals and the great outdoors.
OK that’s you, please tell me about Cecilia Spark and how she came about?
In the beginning, Cecilia Spark was a boy! It was my eldest niece who convinced me to change the protagonist into a girl and Cecilia Spark was born!
Cecilia Spark has a thirst for adventure and loves the great outdoors. Her adventures will take children to new worlds deep in their imagination. The stories touch on the emotional, behavioural and real-life challenges young people will most likely face as they grow up.
How long does it take for you to write a book?
Jings, let me think … from start to finish about 8-9 months. That may seem long but I fit writing into my busy schedule. I am a mother first and foremost, any time left I devote to writing.
Creating the story is the easy part. Editing and publishing are the most time consuming and hair-pulling aspects!
How did your childhood inspire your writing?
As a child I was always outside playing, discovering and enjoying nature. My childhood was carefree, fun and full of adventure. My imagination fuelled many an escapade!
You have written a number of Ceilia Spark Adventures, do you find it more difficult to write a series?
No, I don’t. I can honestly say as my series progresses the characters develop, I become more attuned to their likes and dislikes! My imagination gets carried away at times, but I love it!
I love the research stage for Cecilia Spark’s adventures and I endeavour to base parts of the story on real places; magical and unique locations in our world. In book 2 – The Adventures of Cecilia Spark: the Mystical Mountains of Terra – one place I was drawn to whilst researching for this adventure was the mangroves in Brazil, in particular the Bahia region, and the lake scene at the Mystical Mountains, was inspired by Lake Baikal in Russia.
Given this I believe every child that reads a Cecilia Spark adventure will not only enjoy the thrills and spills but will also learn about the world we live in and the importance of friendship.
How did you meet your illustrator Peter Maddocks (I love the drawings!) and how do you work together?
Peter Maddocks and I have been friends for a number of years; he’s a wonderful person and his artwork is sublime.
As for working together, I give Peter the finished manuscript and leave him to work his magic. I am not alone in thinking that Peter’s illustrations are fantastic and capture the enchantment and excitement of Cecilia Spark’s adventures beautifully.
You have some cool promotional videos on ceciliaspark.com – who put them together?
I created the book trailers and had a little help to upload 2 to You Tube. I used to methods: Movie Maker and Animoto.
Movie Maker is more time consuming and takes a bit of patience to get used to it, but once mastered Movie Maker creates some fabulous results. In conjunction with Movie Maker I downloaded music from Jewelbeat.
Animoto is quick, fun and easy to use. There are few options available – a ‘free’ option, and 2 priced options for greater choice and business users.
On the whole, Movie Maker and Animoto are great tools to use for producing professional quality book trailers without stretching the budget! Don’t be afraid to experiment with all the different options available.
What are some of your favourite children’s books, the ones you have read over and over?
My all time favourite – The Blown Away Rabbit by Enid Blyton. I genuinely thought I would be able fly after reading that book. Also, Winnie the Pooh by A A Milne and Peter Pan by J M Barrie.
I read in another interview that you like Roald Dahl books. My favourite Dahl books are The BFG, The Twits or Fantastic Mr Fox – which is yours?
My goodness there are too many to choose from! I do like The Minpins, The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me, any of his Revolting Rhymes and poems.
Stealing a Magpie is fun and reminds me of one summer when I was a child. A magpie befriended me and followed me round the garden. For days, perhaps even weeks, the magpie was always waiting for me in the morning. But one day he flew away and I never saw him again. I remember feeling extremely sad.
I looked out for him the next summer just in case, but he never returned.
What do your children think of mum’s books?
I think they are proud of me. My youngest son has one of my books and he enjoys colouring the illustrations.
Recently, my son, Duncan, took some of my books to school to show his teacher and classmates.
When I’m writing my daughter always asks me how I am getting on.
I see you love animals, do you have a favourite pet and why?
I don’t have a favourite; I love all animals (okay, except snakes and gigantic spiders!).
I care about every waif and stray that passes by my door. I have rescued a few dogs, brought them back to health and then found a loving home for them. Two dogs we took on ourselves (Toto and Poppy).
I am a passionate supporter of horse rescue, having volunteered in a rescue centre in southern Spain. I am actively involved in fund raisers supporting not only local rescue centres, but also for international programs, such as saving the wild mustangs in the Pryor Mountain range in Montana.
I believe we need to teach our children to take better care of our world than we have. The human race has systematically ravaged and depleted many beauties of the natural world. In fact, one of the characters in book 2 of my children’s series is named after a sub-species of tiger that is now extinct, Turan.
What should a first time visitor to Southern Spain do while there?
Depends on ones likes … I would say a visit to Malaga is a must; a beautiful cosmopolitan city with a Roman Theatre.
The lakes at El Chorro and El Camino del Rey is another must do: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmDhRvvs5Xw
I think El Camino del Rey (The King’s Walkway) is being re-opened 2015.
Photo of El Camino del Rey
The Alhambra at Granada and a trip to the Sierra Nevada for winter sports, the caves at Nerja, La Cala beach (EU Blue Flag Beach) and Refugio del Juanar (http://www.juanar.com/).
Of course a trip to Southern Spain wouldn’t be complete unless you visit one of the waterparks or a quick trip to Morocco!
What is your proudest achievement?
My beautiful children, they make me proud every day. Also working with my daughter, Fearn, on our book – My Nature Friends – she illustrated it.
What’s next for you in writing?
I plan to continue with Cecilia Spark’s 4th adventure and write the next book in my a-z series which will be illustrated by Fearn.
I am in the midst of producing audio books for the first 3 books in my series and so once that project is complete I will start writing.
How can my blog readers find out more about you and your books?
My website – http://www.ceciliaspark.com/
Heather, thank you very much for hosting me on your blog today.
I just wanted to let you all know that Lyndsay from the site http://officiallyglutenfree.com followed my blog yesterday. Lyndsay is now my 100th WordPress follower!
Thank you very much, Lyndsay and to all the rest of my wonderful followers for your following.
I suggest you checkout Lyndsay’s blog, it’s pretty awesome.
Have a great day everyone.
Earlier this week my dad and I, went to a theme park called Alton Towers.
Probably the biggest theme park I’ve ever seen in the U.K. In fact it’s so big that you have to take a monorail train from outside, to the actual entrance. This is where the fun begins! = )
First, within Alton Towers let me tell you about the new experience. There is a ride with fourteen loops called “Smiler”, I stayed away from that ride because I was too scared of it! If you’re really brave take a trip on Oblivion, which is a short vertical drop – very scary.
I did take a ride on a rollercoaster called, “Thirteen”, which is a fast rollercoaster, which goes into a dark tunnel; it drops suddenly and then goes super-fast, backwards in the dark. Not for the faint (It was probably my favourite rollercoaster though!) It was fun listening to everyone scream, at the part when the ride dropped.
My other favourite ride on the day was a ride called Sonic. My friends all love this ride as well. You sit in a carriage which spins around whilst you go up and down on a rollercoaster. It curves and gives you a fright especially if you sit backwards, because you don’t know what’s ahead of you.
The runaway train, looks old and wooden, and although it goes fast, it is not very scary.
I really enjoyed River Rapids! Although you need to be prepared to get wet because people around the ride can use water guns and squirt you.
I got drenched.
If you’re up for being scared then there is a ride called, The Hex. You listen to the horror story and take a weird ride. The ride is like the inside of a church, there is music and scary lights and the room seems to rotate – it takes you upside down, without noticing.
I recommend Alton Towers for kids age 5 upwards. If you are frightened of scary rides then don’t worry. There is a selection of rides for all the family, all weathers, and if you like upside down rides or easy rides – there is something for everyone at Alton Towers.
My top tips for Alton Towers are:
My dad says if you book online you can save 25% on entry, if you book 7 days in advance.
If you are interested in reading about Alton Towers and the rides, see their web-site.
This week I went on a trip to a place called Magna, which is in Sheffield (South Yorkshire in England).
Magna is an old Steel factory which was converted to a science and education centre / museum.
There is lots of Steel Heritage here. You might not have known (I didn’t until I went), but Sheffield was famous for making steel. During World War II, Sheffield was a big target for enemy planes, who were trying to bomb it to destroy the steel factories.
Anyway, the best part of Magna is when they show off the large steel Furnace. They do a demonstration every hour. When they bring the furnace to life, they use a wicked sound and light effects. The show uses pyrotechnics, fire and smoke and lighting. The process is narrated throughout the process. It is loud. It is worth going just for that Furnace demonstration. I really felt like I was part of history and could imagine what it was like back in the olden days, working with this Furnace.
The furnace is so massive, it’s like the size of a football pitch!
Unfortunately I couldn’t take a photo of the furnace because the demonstration is in darkness.
Here are two of my photos from outside.
Here is a photo from inside (from http://www.visitmagna.co.uk/content/14/steel-heritage)
Oh yes, I nearly forgot, they have other different areas of the Magna centre. They have different pavillions for Water, Earth, Fire and Air – You can look around all of these, you can read, learn and take part in all the actvities.
A lovely day out.
If you want more information about the Furnace and about Magna:
Have you ever been to Magna?
Yesterday my dad taught me about internet safety.
I have made a video about it, it is below!
The video has all my top tips in for kids internet safety.
Hopefully everyone can learn something – what do you think?
(My dad works in very boring computers!)
1. Be careful when giving out personal information on-line. Beware because if anyone gets your personal information you can be bullied and spammed or worse.
2. You should be careful what pictures and videos you post of you on the intenet. Once a picture or video has been put on the internet, it will be seen by millions.
3. Don’t open types of files like ZIP and EXE files. They may contain a virus – get it checked first by an adult!
4. Don’t give out passwords to people. It’s dangerous if people get hold of your passwords, you don’t want them logging in and sending e-mails from your account. You can give passwords to your parents though if they ask for it, that is safe enough.
5. Use passwords that people can’t guess!
6. To check if a web-site is safe you can type the web-site address into https://safeweb.norton.com
7. If a web-site makes you feel worried or upset, tell an adult straight away!
8. If someone you speak to on-line wants to meet you in real life, don’t do it. Tell your parents straight away.
Can you think of any others?
Let me know?