I want to share with you the Good News about my latest book and the final book in my Guinevere trilogy: Guinevere: The Legend. Since being released in late December/early January 2020, the book has been honored with the following awards: From: Colorado Independent Pubishers’ Association 1st Place EVVY in Fantasy/Folklore/Mythology; 2nd Place EVVY in Juvenile Fiction Middle Grade; Readers' Favorite Silver Medal in Children's Mythology/Fairy Tale; and the NABE Pinnacle Book Achievement Award Winter 2020.
Finishing my middle grade trilogy of this amazing young lady and her loyal friend was a highlight of my writing career. Back in 2007, when I first conceived the idea of introducing young readers to this girl/queen, I never imagined that she and Cedwyn would soar to such heights. Throughout the trilogy, readers have experienced the two's highs and lows. While their decisions weren't always the best, each made those decisions with the best of intentions. And didn't (and don't) we all do that growing up? I won't tell you how their stories end, but I will tell you that you will be on the edge of your seat wringing your hands and wiping your tears.
Please welcome to Carpinello's Writing Pages,
Oliver Eade and Lara Eade.
Carpinello's Writing Pages is excited to bring you this unique interview with Oliver Eade, author, and his 9-year-old granddaughter Lara Isabelle Ruiz Eade, illustrator. Oliver is a fellow author at Silver Quill Publishing and a very prolific writer. I've posted the interviews together, so we get a better idea of how these two work together. Let's get to know these two!
Here's a bit about Oliver:
I was born a Londoner, but am now an adopted Scot. I retired in 2003 from a career in hospital medicine spanning England, Vermont, and Scotland. After waking up one night with a ghost story in my head, I took to writing adult short stories and joined the Society of Medical Writers (SOMW) and a local writers’ group, The Borders Writers Forum.
I fell in love with a Chinese girl at the age of 19 (we played piano duets together till the piano got in the way) and have never fallen out of love with her. We have a son and daughter and four beautiful granddaughters, two in Texas and two in Switzerland.
And here's Lara:
Illustrator Lara Isabelle Ruiz Eade, aged 9 years.
I am Lara Isabelle Ruiz Eade. I am 9 years old. I live in Leysin in Switzerland. I like tennis, running, skiing, dancing drawing, reading. My favorite subject in school is French.
Oliver: Why did you pick to write books for MG?
Although my ‘default’ is to write for adults, having throughout my medical career focused on difficult correspondence about illness, and academic medical writing, I find that writing for young readers inspires me to look at this puzzling world we live in afresh as if through the eyes of a child. I do believe the children that we once were are still there, somewhere within each and every one of us.
Although not confined to any particular genre, I probably feel most comfortable in that magical space between reality and fantasy; the space into and out of which children slip so easily in their play; the place of dreams and myths and legends and deeply ingrained in many cultures across the globe.
Lara: How long have you been drawing? Who or what got you interested in drawing?
Ever since I remember I like drawing. My mummy and my elder sister taught me to draw.
Oliver: What types of books do you like to read, and what do you do when you are not writing?
I mostly read adult real-life fiction nowadays. Not a great fan of crime or sci-fi, although I was hooked on these genres as a youngster. I am a great admirer of Isabel Allende’s writing. Each of her novels explores human experience in a way that makes me think very deeply about her characters, what they do and why. Perhaps this is because of my medical background. She suffered a lot of tragedy in her life, and I do believe that true life experience shows through in great writing.
My other passion is photography. I took a diploma in photography in 2005 and love street photography. With COVID-19 this is no longer possible, so I am focusing on close-up work… e.g. insects and plants… and local landscapes. I also try to keep fit with gardening, and my wife and I do ballroom dancing in the kitchen! Plus I still play the piano, sometimes accompanying a violinist.
Lara: What was your process for completing the drawings?
I did the pictures softly in pencil at first, starting with the animals. Then I added the background before painting the picture with acrylic paints.
Oliver: Tell us about The Zookeeper's Daughter and how the story came to be.
The Zookeeper’s Daughter was ‘commissioned’ by my youngest, 9-year-old, Swiss granddaughter, Lara. Her elder sister had illustrated my collection of Short Stories for Children aged 7 to 77 years, and Lara asked if she could also illustrate one of my books. We sat together and discussed an idea I had. I knew she loved animals, and that she also had moments of frustration with rules and regulations, so I suggested to her that the zookeeper’s daughter, Isabelle (Lara’s second name), might magically escape from the tedium of parental control and live free like the wild cousins of the animals in their zoo. Lara decided on the names of the characters and the connection between Scotland and Switzerland. Then COVID-19 happened. I had to get on and write the story, and quickly, for being elderly, I feared I might succumb to coronavirus. Also, the pandemic encouraged me to focus on humans failing to respect our wonderful world, thereby endangering so many species. Lara agreed that we should use her novel to think about animals endangered because of what humans are doing to our planet.
Lara: Why did you want to illustrate The Zookeeper’s Daughter?
I wanted to illustrate a book because my sister had done one. Also, I love drawing animals.
Here's a peek at The Zookeeper's Daughter:
Isabelle Scott is devastated to learn she won’t be staying with her beloved Swiss ‘mamie’ (granny) that summer because Old Jamie who works in her daddy’s zoo in Scotland, where she lives, is ill in hospital and her ‘maman’ (mummy) will be too busy in the zoo to take her.
Summer vacation with Grumpy Gramps and her annoying little brother, Joe will be unbearable. But things change after a spider emerges from a white chamois, a present from mamie, and connects Isabelle via a magical golden web to the worlds of endangered wild animals in a book specially written for her by Jamie.
Excerpt: The Bald Eagle that Isn’t Bald
Joe began to cry. At least, an adult jaguar would have called it crying, although to a human it would have sounded very strange. Isabelle licked him, as their mother had done before she got shot, and he seemed to get comfort from this.
“What are we going to do, Isabelle?” Joe asked.
“Florence won’t let us down. I know it.”
Far from going down, they began to float upwards. Together. If Isabelle had hands instead of paws, she would have held onto her little brother. Soon she realised she didn’t even have paws. She had wings instead. An angel? Had she and Joe been shot, without knowing, and turned into angels?
Up and up they went until they broke out above the forest canopy, spreading their magnificent dark wings. No fur, no spots… and no longer jaguars. Then Isabelle remembered the next chapter in Jamie’s book. The North American bald eagle, also sacred to Native Americans.
Never had Joe looked so happy as, soaring over the Chiapas jungle, with his wings spread wide, he sailed north like a big black kite, away from the forest-covered hills, and with his elder sister at his side.
He called out to her. She looked huge. Because of this, he assumed the sound he would make with his own yellow hooked beak might be loud and strong, but it came out high-pitched and squeaky like the twittering of a small bird.
“Where are we going?” he twittered. At least Isabelle understood.
“North,” she chirped. “We shouldn’t be here, so far south. Not as bald eagles, anyway.”
Oliver: How do you go about researching for your stories?
Mostly by searching the internet, although I also buy books relevant to the topic, e.g. ‘The Story of Roman Britain’ for my next time travel YA novel about Scotland under the yoke of Roman occupation. Sometimes, I simply ask an expert.
Lara: Do you have a favorite illustration from the book and why it is your favorite.
The American Bald Eagle. Because they can fly free in the air.
Oliver: Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.
I have published over 50 short stories, many which appear in the collection Walls of Words.
My young readers’ books are Moon Rabbit, a magical journey to mythological China and the sequel, Monkey King’s Revenge; Northwards a dark fantasy set in Texas and the Arctic; and Rainbow Animal, a fun spoof on war also set in the US.
My debut adult novel A Single Petal is set in Tang Dynasty China. It explores personal loss for the main character and his journey towards spiritual enlightenment. Voices, about family love, intrigue, and deceit is set in London, whilst the dark futuristic novel The Parth Path is set in a post-apocalyptic Scotland run by women for women. The premise here is that when women abandon their true nature and try to become just like men, then they become as bad as men.
My young adult novel The Terminus is set in a London changed beyond recognition from the drab post-World War II era and which, in a post-apocalyptic world, gives humankind a second chance. My YA trilogy From Beast to God (From Beast to God, The Golden Jaguar of the Sun, and The Merging and Revelation) follows a Texan boy and Mexican girl, blending European and Native spiritual beliefs. The Kelpie’s Eyes was inspired by a visit to the famous Scottish waterfall, the Grey Mare’s Tale, and weaves Scottish mythology into a tale of sisterly love. Number Twenty-four is a coming of age romance about an unconfident Scots boy and a Chinese girl who end up together in Dogtopia, a land where dogs rule and humans are their pets.
Having a profound love of live drama, I also write plays. The Gap is about the coming together of a dysfunctional family following a natural disaster, inspired by being caught up in the Great Sichuan Earthquake (Richter 8, China) of 2008. The Other Cat is a darkly humorous take on Schrödinger’s famous feline.
Lara: Do you think that you will keep on drawing? Would you like to be an artist when you grow up?
I would like to keep on drawing but probably not be an artist for a living?
Oliver: What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?
Together with my eldest Texan granddaughter, Lucia, who also wants to become a doctor, I am writing an experimental book on the history of medicine. Inspired by Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, In the Blink of an Eye follows the events that led to a teenager called Larry being on life support with COVID-19 and re-incarnations of the same character over 7000 years, each highlighting a major medical advance. I have also written the The Fire Hills, a YA coming of age novel linking a futuristic Scotland, denied independence by a far-right UK government, to Scotland nearly two thousand years ago under the brutal control of the Romans.
Oliver: What advice do you have for other authors?
Write from experience and from the heart. Do not be put off. Write your own story, not a ‘me-too’ book!
Oliver: Anything else you want readers to know?
Our world has reached a turning point because of climate change. If humanity refuses to see the writing on the wall, civilisation and future of Planet Earth are under threat. I’m a scientist and believe what over 99% of climate scientists are telling us. Perhaps 100% now with the latest data from the Arctic.
Oliver and Lara: Where can readers find you and your books?
My website (https://www.olivereadebooks.org)
Amazon author page
The Zookeeper's Daughter