Over the last two weeks, my children and I have been entertained by Neverdark, a magical tale about a feisty princess faerie appropriately named Fiera who must brave many enemies to seek help from Old Mother Oak Tree, the spirit of the tree in which the faeries and other lively creatures inhabit. I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to ask C.S. some questions about herself, Neverdark, and her experiences writing and publishing. Please check out our review of Neverdark.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Sure! Well, as my bio says, I really do live on a tiny farm, on a small island, somewhere in the vast North Atlantic Ocean. Okay…PEI, Canada. Aaron, my long-suffering, lovely hubby (and the illustrator of Neverdark), and I have a small organic farm full of all sorts of critters that keep us very busy when we’re not writing books.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Honestly, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t certain that I would, one day, write novels.
What are some of your favourite books from when you were a child and did any of these inspire you when writing Neverdark?
Oh, there are so many. I was a voracious reader of everything from Charlotte’s Web to Lord of the Rings. Then, as a teenager, I fell in love with Kurt Vonnegut. I actually burst into tears while standing in line at the grocery store when I read the headline in the newspaper that said he’d passed away. It was so embarrassing, but I couldn’t stop crying!
I don’t doubt that every book I’ve ever read remains in me, somwehere, and most likely all of them played a role in the creation of Neverdark.
When did you first start writing Neverdark and when did you finish?
Neverdark was originally started as a gift for my niece and nephews. I wanted to give them something personally made, just for them, and I can’t knit. So, I thought – why not a fairy tale? I started writing and about three months later, the first draft was finished.
How do you come up with the names for the people and places described in this imaginative fantasy world?
This will probably sound really weird, but they pretty much name themselves. I start out with a name that I’ve chosen for them (usually after MUCH careful deliberation), and then somewhere along the line in the story, it just becomes obvious that the name I’ve chosen is utterly stupid. Thankfully, the name that they should have also becomes blatantly obvious, (pretty much simultaneously), or else we’d have a whole lot of characters named “X”.
Awesome. Aaron is an even bigger kid than I am and he’s also a great mimic of regional accents. It was his idea to “cast” Hamish MacSquirrel as an angry Scotsman and I can’t tell you how hard I laughed when we were working on his dialogue. Aaron’s Scottish brogue is nearly as good as Billy Connelly’s.
Can you tell us about the challenges you faced in getting Neverdark published? How are you marketing Neverdark and what has been the response?
Wow…that’s a big one. Well, originally Neverdark was intended as a family gift, but then everyone made such a fuss that I decided to post it on a HarperCollins site called “Authonomy”, where it was (to my surprise), very well received. After a short while there, we signed with Literary Agent Eve White in the UK. Long story short, the traditional publishing world took some big hits in 2010 (they’re still taking some big hits!), and Neverdark, as a debut novel from an unknown novelist, was dropped. Still, we had so much positive feedback that, try as we might, we just couldn’t leave it entirely.
So, in November, 2011 we decided to publish the ebook under our own imprint, “Goethe Books”. That went so well that we followed it with the paperback in December.
Marketing has really just been word-of-mouth on bookish blogs, such as your own, and so far, it’s exceeded all expectations. I like to think of NEVERDARK as “the little book that could.” The experience has been wonderful.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
I have the hide of a rhinoceros, but I have to admit that I get a bit steamed when people completely miss the point of something I’ve written – not at them, but at myself, as it’s my job to make sure that that doesn’t happen! The best compliment? That’s easy. Anytime anyone says that something I’ve written has made them think about something in a new way, or helped them see the world in a new light, I know I’ve hit the mark.
What books are you reading right now? What do you like to do when you are not writing or reading?
I’ve just finished reading SKIN DEEP by Laura Jarratt. It’s aMaZiNg!! Next on my list is A MONSTER CALLS, by Patrick Neww. I’m also a huge JK Rowling fan so I can’t wait to read her new novel (even though it’s aimed at adults). When I’m not writing or reading, my itinerary’s pretty full, taking care of all my critters.
What does the future hold for you? Is there a PART TWO in the works?
Definitely. But first, we’ll be releasing the first in another series, called “The Last Portal”. It’s a Sci-Fi Adventure about two kids, Samantha and Elliot Seaver, who have to save the world from the Evil Necrovore, Chaos. Oh, and they’re superheroes. They just don’t know that, yet ;o).
What advice would you give someone aspiring to write a children’s book?
READ. Read everything in your genre and everything else, besides. And don’t be afraid to push a few buttons. The worst book ever is the one that says nothing more than what everyone else already knows, and expects.
**Please visit C.S. Einfeld at her website, www.authorcseinfeld.blogspot.ca for more information.**