I’ve been writing the series Ella and Olivia for a while now – for over three years. It’s been a fantastic experience – and even though I’ve written longer novels, the challenge of storytelling in five short chapters of five hundred words per chapter is something I’ve really learned from.
As an English teacher, I am always at pains to explain to students the following: something HAS to happen (complication) and something HAS to be resolved (resolution) in any story you write. Ella and Olivia is a fantastic test: the girls must find a solution to a problem by the end of the story!
And the characters of Ella and Olivia are writ large in my mind. There is only 18 months between them, yet they exist in my every day life – every young person I see or meet, they are my sister and brother embodied, they are memories that I have or perhaps people in my future. There are elements of my parents (and myself) in Mum and Dad of the story, and Uncle Stu the sparkie is a close relation to my brother-in-law.
I have just spent an inordinate amount of time working on more stories for the canny little sisters, and with each adventure, their personality becomes more clear. They are the embodiment of life, people, myself and indeed my own siblings, just on the page.
Characters of my favourite books have ALWAYS been real to me – even if it’s Alex Cooper in the Linda Fairstein crime books (what would Alex do, I often think), or Jane Eyre or even the bumbling Stephanie Plum. I live my life intensely through the lens of a beloved character, and so many (young) readers do too.
Whether or not you know it, if you’re a writer, the characters will live within you, their voices finding a way out when you least expect it! And once they’re drawn (in this case by the expert hand of illustrator Danielle McDonald), they have a life of their own!
Ella and Olivia Bind-Up #4: Merry Christmas Stories (4 books with a surprise inside!) is out now!