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.