I'm really looking forward to tomorrow's US debut of Evelyn's picture book, CAPTAIN GREEN AND THE PLASTIC SCENE (illustrated by Danny Deeptown). I love spending time at the beach, and Evelyn's book about oceans, the creatures who live there, and plastic pollution, resonated immediately. Here are Evelyn's thoughts about stories . . . creativity . . . and connection.
STORIES – Discuss what inspires your ideas and stories, and share the process about your latest projects.
First, I want to say that I am delighted to have this opportunity to talk about writing. Thanks so much for having me, Melissa.
I get inspiration in all sorts of ways; from things I see and hear when out and about (especially when there are animals around), from things my little boy says and does and even from things I hear in the news. I enjoy participating in STORYSTORM every year and refer back to my ever-growing list of ideas when the mood hits me to start a new story.
I am currently working on a second book to follow my debut, CAPTAIN GREEN AND THE PLASTIC SCENE (illustrated by Danny Deeptown and published by Marshall Cavendish), which was released in most parts of the world at the end of August 2018 and comes out in North America on January 7, 2019. The second book, just like the first, requires a lot of research. Although the stories are fictional, the environmental issues are not. Once I have a rough idea of what I want to write about, I decide how best to shine a light on the problem while, most importantly, telling a story that children will enjoy and connect with. CAPTAIN GREEN AND THE PLASTIC SCENE focuses on plastic pollution in our oceans and how it is hurting sea creatures.
I was inspired to write this story while on a beach in Indonesia. I was stunned to see so much plastic washed up on the sand, just past our hotel. I thought this is a job for a superhero and Captain Green, the Caped Captain of Clean, was born. Fresh out of Superhero School, he finds himself on a major mission. One that he eventually discovers requires everyone’s help.
Before writing the story, I watched documentaries, read widely and talked to a marine biologist to get a good grasp on plastic pollution. I chose three animals to include and studied their habits and habitats. It was important for me to not overwhelm children but show them some ways that they can make a difference.
I have included many patterns in the story, through the use of repeated language and applying the rule of three in different ways, with the aim of showing connections between characters and events and to aid the story’s pacing.
Most of the other stories I write are very light-hearted. I enjoy using word play, especially puns, and will often rely on good old Google to help me when stuck for one. I often begin with a rough concept for these stories and ideas and plot lines come to me as I write. I just go along for the ride and love it when the writing flows. As we know, the story is found in the revision, a good critique group is gold and editors are very smart people.
CREATIVITY -- How do you showcase your creative side through writing/illustrating and other pursuits?
Writing is by far the most creative pursuit of mine. The process of making something new and possibly getting to share it, is something I value immensely.
Although I no longer work full-time, teaching is another creative outlet of mine. The freedom to create lessons and take pupils on journeys in fun and exciting. It can be hard work but is hugely rewarding. Being an educator has allowed me to gain a wonderful insight into writing for children.
I also love to make things. We moved to the Netherlands recently and my son asked me to make a windmill with him as he is so fascinated by them he wants us to live in one. Well, we made a windmill but I’m not sure I could take all the stairs were we to move in.
CONNECTION -- How do you connect to your young readers through your writing/illustrating, and how do you stay connected to the KidLit community?
I love connecting with young readers. I visited schools as soon as CAPTAIN GREEN AND THE PLASTIC SCENE was released and shared the story with children from as young as 3 and up to 10 years old. It was incredible to see them connect so emotionally to the story as Dolphin, Seagull and Turtle get into trouble and to see the relief on their faces when Captain Green swoops in to save the day. Children have been bursting with ideas to share on saving our seas and it’s wonderful to see how deeply they care. Danny Deeptown’s lively and warm illustrations have been an enormous asset in connecting readers to the story. He has brought Captain Green and the issue of plastic pollution to life in a way that I will be forever grateful for.
I have created activities that go along with the book to allow children to explore the story further. They can make Captain Green’s superhero watch from recycled materials, write him a letter or take the Plastic Pollution Solution pledge.
Staying connected to the Kidlit community is important to me as most days I work alone at home. I am a member of 12x12, a wonderful community of supportive writers and illustrators, where I found an excellent critique group.
I read blogs (such as this one), attend webinars and local SCBWI events, and I am a member of an ever-growing number of Facebook groups for children’s writers. I am grateful for how supportive and lovely the Kidlit community is.
Thanks for having me Melissa. Best of luck with your latest books, Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush and Ready, Set, GOrilla!
Evelyn Bookless grew up on a farm in the west of Ireland. She is a nature lover, mum, teacher and writer. Her first-time diving was at The Great Barrier Reef. It blew her mind (but thankfully she made a full recovery!). Following this she learned to dive properly in the Atlantic Ocean one winter. She saw an octopus and was very happy even though it was very cold. Evelyn has lived in Hong Kong and Singapore for the past 10 years and recently moved to the Netherlands where she loves riding her bike everywhere. Her favorite place to be is in the ocean, preferably somewhere warm, as she’s not as tough as she used to be. She dreams about clean oceans and contented sea creatures.
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