Saturday, June 9, 2012

Interview with Alice, Big Sister and Elizabeth

For something new and different, I am going to interview three good friends of mine who all love books and creative writing. I am talking of Alice , Big Sister and Elizabeth (Big Sister is only a pen name, I wish she was my big sister). Alice founded the blog Just So Stories and Big Sister, Elizabeth and I contribute to it. So I thought it would be fitting to invite these girls to do a guest post with me.

(Elizabeth left, Alice middle, Big Sister right (sorry Alice, I stole this pic from your blog)

I will ask these beautiful young ladies to reply to each interview question I come up with, and I will do the same. 

Here we go...

Question 1 - Give a quick introduction of yourself, why you enjoy reading and writing and a list of books you love and stories you've created.

Alice: Hello there! My name is Alice. I'm homeschooled, one of nine Aussie kids and a daughter of the Almighty God. Reading and writing are, as you might've guessed, among my favourite hobbies! I also love sewing, baking, music, nature, backyard footy, planning birthday parties, letter-writing and living the wonderful life God has blessed me with.

I haven't yet found a single word in the English language that can describe the joy that reading gives! I love how you can just open a page and be transported into another world and be captivated for hours. There are so many places you can go - so much you can do. As much as I love both, I read a lot more than I write and to tell the truth I've only ever actually finished three stories, including a series of children's story books written about our family and another. 
J.R.R. Tolkien's works are some of my favourite, along with the Anne of Green Gables series and old classics such as Charles Dickens and Jane Austen. Biographies of courageous men and women who have left their comfort zone to do the work of God are pretty amazing and inspiring, too.

Big Sister:  I'm a homeschooler and the eldest of six children (henceforth my pseudonym, "Big Sister").  I love reading, writing, photography, anything to do with animals (especially horses!) and the great outdoors,  drawing, classical music, baking, the golden beauty of NT sunsets and beautiful old-fashioned things. 

I love reading because it relaxes, entertains and effortlessly educates me in many subjects.  When I open a book,  I am taken into another world, meeting new people and seeing new places.   There isn't much quite so nice as curling up somewhere cozy with a book, a cup of tea, and a piece of sugar-free chocolate (my one weakness).  Some of my favorite books are  The Lord of The Rings, Biggles, Wives and Daughters, Treasure Island, Anne of Green Gables, The Little White Horse and the Redwall books.

And writing? Writing is just putting my imagination on paper (or a computer screen, which is much less poetic).  I sometimes get so annoyed with books when the characters don't do what I want, but when I write my own stories, I get to control what they do (meh heh heh!).  I also find it very emotional.  The characters I create become like friends.  
So far, I've completed A Wollypog Called Petoskey and A Morning Walk, and I have a few more unfinished stories I'm working on.

Elizabeth: Hello everyone – I’m Elizabeth from Quiet Streams. I am passionate about so many things – God, people, music, photography, interior design, writing, sports, running, cooking, reading and life in general!

Why do I enjoy reading? Well, I just love the fact that from the minute you open the page, you are transported to another world. I’m reading Lord of the Rings by Tolkien at the moment, and I’m finding the adventure and excitement so much fun. I also love books that help you grow in your walk with God – especially biographies of amazing people like Mother Theresa and Eric Liddell. I love writing as well, but don’t do nearly as much as it as I do reading! I love telling a story or describing something beautiful through a poem, and I really enjoy writing short stories too.

Lauren: I love reading, writing and (horse) riding. I have been reading since age five, and have (more recently) discovered the joy of creative writing. Horses..well, if you are reading this blog, you probably know my love and passion for them. 

I love reading because I find in our busy and troubled world, reading can be an escape, a place where your imagination can roam freely. I love creative writing for similar reasons, but I love the chance to be able to be creative when choosing your story. You aren't simply reading another's words, but making up your own. 

Some of my favourite books would be, 'The Horse and his Boy, 'Pride and Predjuice', 'Little Women', "Anne of Green Gables' and 'The Silver Brumby' to name a few. 'Stella's Destinay' is my only completed story, and or course I am writting 'Jilla'. 

Question 2 - In your opinion what makes a 'good' book good?

Alice: An interesting plot of course; a likeable/hilarious protagonist, as well as articulacy are some of the qualities that I think make a book 'good'. I've been enjoying Sherlock Holmes lately and have concluded that it's a mixture of Sherlock's hilarious character and the unpredictability of the plots that make them so 'good'. 

Big Sister: For me, a good book has to combine the aspects of quality writing, an interesting story line, and loveable characters.  It's also wonderful if a book can make me both laugh and cry.

Elizabeth: Obviously, a good book should be grammatically sound, and preferably with lots of interesting, colorful words. I find Roald Dahl so much fun to read, because of his hilarious descriptions and the wonderful words he uses. I also like books with a good plot – the more unpredictable the better! I like stories with characters I can relate to – stories with ridiculously perfect heroines frustrate me.Another little pet peeve is sad endings. I hate them!

Lauren: A 'good' book needs characters that are interesting and likeable. It also needs an interesting setting (so your imagination can have fun discovering a new world or place) and a clever story line. I also think the dialogue needs to be articulate.

Question 3 - What genre do you like reading and writing in?

Alice: Oh, definitely Mystery, Historical-fiction, and anything set in the 'good ole days'. I just love the simplicity of those days, the dresses, the balls!, and the elegancy... they  are unsurpassable.

Big Sister: I love most genres, but I think my favorites would have to be Mystery/Adventure, old Romances (think Elizabeth Gaskell), and some Fantasy (Lord of the Rings!).  So far I've written Fantasy, Historic Fiction and Imaginative stories, and I'd really like to write an Adventure/Mystery book.

Elizabeth: Definitely Regency and Edwardian. I so wish I could go back and live in those eras, so I satisfy my cravings for parasols and elegant balls by reading Jane Austen and Ethel Turner. I adore the beauty and simplicity of the old days.

Lauren: I love reading historical fiction best, but I probably love writing fictional drama best, preferably about horses, I also love writing historical fiction. 

Question 4 - Which book character/s do you relate to?

Alice: Like everyone, I relate to quite a few book characters in many different ways! I know I don't come across as anything like her, but in a lot of ways I find myself relating to Anne Shirley of Green Gables. Elizabeth Bennet in Pride & Prejudice, Amy in Little Women and Susan Pevensie in The Chronicles of Narnia I can relate a little to as well.

Big Sister: Bilbo Baggins (from Lord of the Rings).  I love the way he loves his snug life and cups of tea, yet still has an itch for adventure.  I also relate to Samwise (also from LOTR), Algy from Biggles and, like Lauren, I find myself relating to Anne a lot too.

Elizabeth: Good question – there are quite a few! Molly Gibson in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives & Daughters, Judy in Seven Little Australians, and both Meg and Nel in Family at Misrule, by Ethel Turner. I also relate to Jo in Little Women and Elizabeth Bennet in Pride & Prejudice.

Lauren: Characters that come to mind would be, Aravis (from the Horse and His Boy) and Jo (from Little Women). I do (in some aspects) relate to Anne (from Anne of Green Gables). 

Question 5 - Which of your own character/s do you relate to?

Alice: Well, as I said, I've only ever completed three stories and the rest are so numerous in number and so little in words (meaning I only ever wrote very little of a story before I had another idea for another one!) that I can hardly remember the characters. My first novel though, 'Meet Sarah', was written when I was ten years old and I based her mostly on myself. Actually I was so in love with the Pioneering days that I pretended Sarah was me, two hundred years earlier! My series of kids books, 'The Adventures of the Farrell-Ogbins', was written about two families -- ours and another, so I myself was one of the characters.

Big Sister: Probably Hexagon from A Wollypog Called Petoskey. 

Lauren: I can relate to both Jilla and Stella in different ways. I find they reflect two very different aspects of my personality. Jilla is quiet and reserved, and Stella is strong willed and stubborn. I can be really shy around new people, but if you get to know me better, I can be really out going, talkative and 'Stella-like'.   

Question 6 - Do you prefer Jane Austen, Charles Dickens or Elizabeth Gaskell?

Alice: Quite a hard question that! To tell the truth, I've only ever read 'Persuasion', 'Oliver Twist' and 'A Christmas Carol' by those authors. I've only recently discovered Elizabeth Gaskell and am currently reading 'North & South' which is fantastic! They are all extremely gifted writers and deserve an equal amount of credit. Charles Dickens would have to be the favourite though -- the plots are so captivating and I find them a little more exciting.

Big Sister: Such a difficult question! I haven't read a Jane Austen yet (Mum made me wait!), so I'll have to say Elizabeth Gaskell- her stories are simply amazing! The characters are realistic and charming. :)

Elizabeth: Ahhh, what a hard question! At the moment, probably Elizabeth Gaskell, but I also love Dickens’ fantastic plots and Jane Austen’s amusing characters.

Lauren: Jane Austen for sure! 

Question 7 - Which author do you admire the most and why? 

Alice: Hmm. I don't know a whole lot about the lives of my favourite authors, but I think they're all unique in their own special way. I love the imagination of J.R.R. Tolkien and the articulacy of Jane Austen; the plots + mysteries that Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes) comes up with and the scenery and character of Anne that L.M Montgomery so beautifully describes in the Anne of Green Gables series. 

Big Sister: Corrie ten Boom- she was such a lovely person, but not afraid to admit she was human.  Corrie was also very brave and had a wonderful faith in God.

Elizabeth: I don't know much about my favourite authors' lives - but I really admire writers like Dickens, who create such amazing and detailed masterpieces from their own experience. 

Lauren:  C.S Lewis. His Narnia chronicles are so deep and meaningful. His character of Aslan brought me into a much more personal relationship with God. Even now I study all of Narnia books, I always learn something new. Although, I highly recommend reading the 'Narnia Code' written by Mitchell Ward for those that love to study Narnia at an even deeper level (although, I will warn you that the book does get quiet complicated, and only for those who truly know the stories back to front). Anyway, C.S Lewis was an amazing author to write fantasy with so much meaning in it. 

Question 8 - What are some of your top creative writing tips?

Alice: Don't prattle on and on about the same thing, and like Elizabeth said, get the basics right! (in your final copy, of course - never mind about drafts!).  In saying this I'm no expert at writing, nor am I perfect -- I make a numerous amount of mistakes I'm sure! But spelling mistakes and Grammatical errors can ruin a good story. And - this is rather original - but use your imagination, be articulate, and don't be afraid to remove a whole paragraph or start all over again! (That is, if you just began.  Heh heh)

Big Sister: 1. Just let it flow.  The first time you write your "draft," don't bother with your grammar and spelling- you can deal with that later. :)

2. Write down all your ideas.  If you get an idea for a story, write it down and put it in a computer file (more un-poeticness).  You never know when you might need an idea!  This is also the advice of British author Adrian Plass.

Elizabeth: Get the basics right first! Grammatical and spelling mistakes can really spoil a good story. I’m reading The Elements of Style by E.B. White at the moment and finding it really helpful. Another word of advice - be original. 

Lauren: Never copy another author's work, it will look like you copied it, and it really doesn't reflect your style, taste or talent. Believe me, I've learnt this the hard way. Don't try really hard to think of a good story line, if you are patient, you will probably find inspiration when you'd least expect, forced story lines are never as good in my experience. 
Michael Ward
Question 9 - If one of your stories was going to be turned into a movie, which would you pick, would you object and what would be the most important aspects the film-makers would have to get right?

Alice: I'd never turn 'Meet Sarah' into a movie because it would be a rather dull one I'm afraid, and 'The Misfortunes of William Reed' would simply be the opening or closing - or both- scenes of a movie.  But if I did, I would want to make sure the movie stuck to the original story. So many movies have completely ruined great books by changing the plot so drastically! I find it rather annoying when the plot of a good book has been turned around-and-upside-down, then to the side and lets-start-all-over-again by a movie.

Big Sister: So far, I havent't written any stories I'd like to make a movie out of.  However, if I did, I think the most important things to get right would be the script, music, location and actors.  

Elizabeth: I  haven't actually written a proper book, but for me, the most important aspect for making a book into a movie is that it is so important to be true to the original story - and choose the actors and settings accordingly. So many excellent books have been spoiled by being made into a movie because of the wrong actors and unrealistic script!

Lauren: I'd probably prefer to see 'Stella's Destiny' into a movie, because I would love a movie to add to the drama of the Cherokee removal. I don't think any movie company could get 'Jilla' to my perfection, especially since it is from a horse's point of view, it could look really cheesy.  The most important aspect to get right would be Stella's character, and the information to be historically correct. I would also like it to be a tear-jerker. 

Question 10 - Who would act as your main character, or characters, in a film? (You can choose more then one character)
Alice: Eliza Bennet  (Meggie in Inkheart), Logan Bartholomew (Willie LaHaye in the Love Comes Softly series), Romola Garai (Emma in Emma 2012 version) or Daniela Denby (Margaret Hale in 'North & South'.)

Big Sister: Hmm.  I don't really know!  

Elizabeth: Maggie Smith and Michael Gambon. 

Lauren: Sigrid Thornton (plays Jessica Harrison, from The Man from Snowy River) as Stella and Rosamend Pike (Jane Bennet in 2005 Pride and Predjuice) as Louise and Logan Bartholomew (Willie LeHay in Love Comes Softly series) as Walter. 

Question 11 - If you were to live the life of a heroine in a book who would you choose?

Alice: Oh, wow - what a question! I would spend about fifty years deciding between the life of Anne Shirley, Elizabeth Bennet, or Carrie Woodlawn!

Big Sister: Oh, what a hard question!  Perhaps Anne? Or Mary from Baby Island? And I wouldn't mind being Molly from Wives and Daughters either.

Elizabeth: Either Emily in L.M. Montgomery's Emily series, Norah Linton in Mary Grant Bruce's Billabong series, or Susan Walker in Swallows & Amazons, by Arthur Ransom.

Lauren: Aravis from 'The Horse and His Boy'. I'd love to run away to Narnia *sigh* and ride on a talking horse, no less!

Question 12 - What is a virtue a favourite character must have in a book?

Alice: Integrity, Godliness, Common sense, and Courage, to some extent. :)

Big Sister: A kind heart.  

Elizabeth: Common sense!

Lauren: Determination / perseverance.  

Question 13 - If you were to meet one of the characters you've created, who would it be, and why?

Alice: Sarah Hornton, probably! Mostly because I imagined her as myself in the Pioneering days.

Big Sister: Probably Petoskey, Hexagon and Ambrostina from A Wollypog Called Petoskey, because I like them a lot. :)  


Lauren: Jilla, because she is such a sweet horse. 

Question 14 - Do you prefer reading or writing?

Alice: I find writing very satisfying (if my words work together nicely - hehe), but reading would have to be my all time favourite. :)

Big Sister: Both are amazing, but I'll have to say reading.

Elizabeth: Definitely reading. :)

Lauren: It depends on the mood I'm in. I generally prefer reading, but the satisfaction from writing is incredible.  


I hope you have enjoyed this interview. Please feel free to ask more questions in your comments! And do check out the blogs of these lovely ladies.



Holly said...

interesting...i liked reading it! :)

Alexandra said...

Well, the film version of Black Beauty was from a horse's POV, and it's one of the most dramatic films I've ever seen. Just a thought. :)

Lauren said...

Hi Alexandra

I shouldn't have used the word 'cheesy' to describe movies that are from the horses point of view.

I love Black Beauty, but personaly I wouldn't want Jilla to be 'humanised' by using a human's voice. I want Jilla to be known as a horse, that acts like a horse. Not a horse with a humans mind and tongue.

But of course, then you would have no dialogue.

I don't have anything against films that portray 'talking' horses. Horses of course do communicate, but not in a language that we can fully understand. So that is the reason for 'talking' horses.

I love movies like the 'War Horse' where the horse doesn't talk, but you can still understand the horse.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by my little blogging corner of the world ( :


Lauren said...

By the way, I do love 'The Horse and His Boy,' see Narnian horses are different, because they actually are talking horses.

Maybe I am just being silly ( ;

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