Welcome to Tea with Mrs B, an author interview series. Here to share a pot of tea and to chat about her brand new book, Claire Malone Changes the World, is Nadia L. King.
Australian author, Nadia L King was born in Dublin, Ireland. She is a children’s author and short story writer who believes passionately in the power of stories to make the world a better place.
Her books for children include “Claire Malone Changes the World” (an empowering and inspiring picture book for young children) and “Jenna’s Truth” (a real and raw story of cyberbullying for young adults).
Nadia’s short stories have been published in Australia and internationally, and she is the winner of the 2019 Stuart Hadow Short Story Prize.
Nadia is currently undertaking postgraduate studies in English and creative writing. She lives in Western Australia with her family and her ever-expanding collection of books.
Hello Nadia. It is my pleasure to welcome to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews and thank you for joining me for Tea with Mrs B, an author interview series. To set the mood for our tea infused interview, what is your preferred beverage, tea, coffee or other? And side accompaniment, scone, cake or other?
All of the above, plus cheese, please!
Can you tell us what genres you write for and how many books you have had published?
I write across genres. My published work includes a number of non-fiction essays and articles, 10 short stories, a contemporary young adult novella (Jenna’s Truth, first published in 2016) and Claire Malone Changes the World, a children’s picture book due for release by Dixi Books in November, 2019.
Claire Malone Changes the World, your first children’s picture book has just been released. Can you describe the book in just a sentence?
Claire Malone Changes the World is about a little girl who discovers her voice matters and that she has power to make a difference in the world.
What inspired the creation of Claire Malone Changes the World?
I wrote Claire Malone Changes the World while on holiday in New Zealand, there’s something about the place that makes me want to write when I’m there; all that natural beauty, the slower pace of life, I feel I can totally relax when I’m in New Zealand. Last time I visited (I have family who live there so I visit quite regularly), I started thinking about how much time kids spend on their devices and how it impacts their daily lives. I’ve always been interested in ‘people power’ and believe we all have the potential to make a difference in the world and that age shouldn’t be an impediment so with those ideas churning around in my head, I decided to try my hand at a picture book.
Can you tell us about the collaboration process with the illustrator of Claire Malone Changes the World, Alisa Knatko?
Alisa Knatko is the talented illustrator of Claire Malone Changes the World. I only had a few illustrator notes in the manuscript as I was keen to see an illustrator bring their own stamp to the story. We deliberately included an image of a typewriter in the book and I am hopeful that all children, if not familiar with typewriters, will be intrigued and interested in this piece of machinery.
How long did it take you to write Claire Malone Changes the World?
Writing the first draft was quite a fast process, but to be honest, I completely forgot about the story until I came across it again in one of my notebooks. I typed it up and a good friend of mine (also a children’s author) made some helpful suggestions. Because Claire Malone Changes the World was my first picture book, I familiarised myself with formatting and picture book convention requirements.
Where did the inspiration for the character of Claire come from?
The character of Claire Malone is based on my own children and a little of what I was like as a young girl. After writing the book, I came to think of Claire Malone as a younger version of Swedish child activist, Greta Thunberg. They both desire to have their voices heard and to change the world for the better.
Can you tell us more about the main themes of Claire Malone Changes the World?
The main themes include resilience (Claire doesn’t give up despite not receiving replies to her letters), technology (Claire spends a lot of time by herself on her devices at the expense of making friends and playing outside), activism (using the somewhat old-fashioned skill of letter writing to communicate with those in power and marching in the streets), kidpower (Claire embarked upon her course of action without parental or adult help), and friendship (Claire’s friendship with her cat Marmalade and the children in the park).
What ingredients do you feel are necessary to compose a successful children’s book?
Writing for children means addressing a number of conventions, for instance, the protagonist is usually a child and the focus of the story is upon them rather than adults or the actions of adults. In my opinion, writing from the heart is the most important element of fiction writing especially when writing for children.
How different was the experience of writing Claire Malone Changes the World, compared to your previous book, Jenna’s Truth?
It’s strange to admit this, but I never wanted to write Jenna’s Truth. It was a story that took hold of me and wouldn’t let me go until I had finished. I was a more willing author of Claire Malone Changes the World. I enjoyed the process and was happy to write Claire Malone’s story. Jenna’s Truth felt more like a story that I was morally obliged to write in response to a terrible tragedy.
What do you hope readers will take away from reading Claire Malone Changes the World?
I hope readers will feel inspired and hopeful; that they will know how important their voices are, that we (the rest of the world) need to hear what they have to say, and that they have power to impact the world even in a small way. Every small positive action can have the power to change our world for the better.
Can you tell us about your creative working space, where do you write and is there anything vital you need to get started?
I’m not very fussy when it comes to a physical writing space and I can write just about anywhere. Process-wise, I enjoy writing my first drafts long-hand and feel more connected to the story in doing so. To me, the most vital thing is an idea. Some ideas are simply ideas which don’t lead anywhere. And it has taken me a while to discover that not all ideas are worth pursuing.
Do you have any advice for the aspiring writers out there?
All writers should read. Reading goes hand in hand with writing. I think Tea Obreht said it best when she said this about reading:
Trying to write without reading is like venturing out to sea all by yourself in a small boat: lonely and dangerous. Wouldn’t you rather see the horizon filled, end to end, with other sails? Wouldn’t you rather wave to neighbouring vessels; admire their craftsmanship; cut in and out of the wakes that suit you, knowing that you’ll leave a wake of your own, that there’s enough wind and sea for you all?
Is there a genre you haven’t tried writing yet, but want to in the future?
My next young adult writing project is historical fiction written in the gothic form. This prospect excites and terrifies me in equal measure. Excitement because I like a challenge, but I’m also terrified of not getting either the historical fiction or the gothic form down right.
What is next on the horizon for Nadia King? Do you have any writing projects you would like to share with us?
By the time this interview goes live, I should have submitted my thesis for an Honours in English and Creative Writing. I am also hoping to pursue further studies in this area. For my writing, I have a couple of junior fiction manuscripts, two or three short stories on the go, plus there is of course my YA gothic manuscript.
What 2020 book releases are you most excited to read?
I’ve been enthralled by the Mirror Visitor Quartet by French author Christelle Dabos and the third book in the series The Memory of Babel is due out in 2020. I’m also looking forward to Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light (the final novel in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy).
If you could slip back in time, what era would you travel to and why?
Because I’m writing about Perth at the turn of the twentieth century, it would be very handy to travel back to that time period and it would make my research much easier! But I’m not sure I fancy visiting a time where typhoid and diphtheria are rife, where women are still fighting for equal rights and where food is kept in a meat safe. Plus, the thought of corsets and heavy clothing is really putting a dampener on this time travel idea!
Finally, wrapping up our tea themed interview, who would you most like to share a pot of tea with?
There are so many people I would love to have a cuppa with, but if I was only allowed to choose one person, my first choice would have to be the inspiring student, Greta Thunberg who is making a wonderful and positive impact for climate change activism.
Thank you for taking the time to visit Mrs B’s Book Reviews for Tea with Mrs B Nadia. Congratulations on the publication of Claire Malone Changes the World!
A new generation of children… Who are not afraid of responsibilities, but who are keen to address problems and find solutions. Claire is one of them. The moment she sees the broken swing and the cracked slide in the children’s park in her neighbourhood, she decides to take action. Not surprisingly, her way of reaching a solution is an interesting and innovative one. You will love the journey of Claire, a strong and ambitious girl, so much that you will want to read this book over and over again.
Claire Malone Changes the World by Nadia L. King was published on November 28th 2019 by Dixi Books. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
You can read my review of Claire Malone Changes the World here.
Connect with Nadia here: