Farida Mestec's Guest Interview with:
Hi Trisha! Welcome to The Upper Kingdom! Tell me, please, how long have you been writing?
I’ve told stories all my life, but as I didn’t learn to write properly until I was 53, I would have to say five years. Though many of my stories were handwritten at the age of eighteen, so I could also say forty years.
And have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes, I knew I would be from as early as five, but I didn’t know how I would achieve it.
Do you remember your first writing attempts?
Yes, and although I never learned to write properly as a child, I scribbled my own childhood antics in note books and read them too people. I got hooked on this because it made people laugh. I was a very strange child, accident prone and a dare devil. If ever anyone dared me to do things, I’d do it, then get into trouble of course. These memoirs were turned into fictitious children’s stories in my Mischievous Rascals series. The first book is published as Star-Crossed Rascals.
You remind me of Anne of Green Gables! What genre have you been writing in?
My genre is children’s fiction, mainly adventure, but I’ve also written a fantasy children’s book called Velvet Ball and The Broken Fairy. I’m writing the sequel to that story at the moment. I also wrote an educational adventure fiction story, (if there is such a genre) Molly Gumnut Rescues a Bandicoot is the first in that series.
That sounds very interesting – I love the title! What other genres would you like to pursue?
As my characters will grow up eventually, I’ll have a chance to write Y/A stories. I’ve already started a Y/A novel, which I’m quite excited about. The MC is a fickle teenager who can’t stay out of trouble. It’s a comedy, love story, but I’m having trouble finding time to finish it as I’m still writing my three children’s series.
I know what you mean! I have ever so many projects I want to work on and I wonder where to get the time! What is the main theme of your latest book? What was it inspired by?
Molly Gumnut Rescues a Bandicoot was inspired by a baby bandicoot I cared for. I’m a volunteer at a Wildlife Rescue Charity for injured and orphaned animals In Australia. I wanted to help the endangered little marsupials without being boring, so I came up with Molly. Hopefully, children and adults will enjoy this story and learn about the perils of the bandicoot at the same time.
That's so wonderful! What goals do you set out to achieve when you start writing a new book?
My goals are to tug at the heart strings of the reader. Make them laugh, cringe and cry, and also to think about the subject I’ve written about. If I don’t achieve all four things, I feel I’ve failed in my attempts. Velvet Ball and The Broken Fairy is about an eight-year-old girl with alopecia, (no hair on her entire body). Velvet gets bullied at school and when she finds a fairy in the woods, she thinks her problems will be solved. But the Fairy has her own issues, she has no magic, is cantankerous and rude. She’s just a big pain in the butt and causes more problems for Velvet.
Ooh, poor Velvet!
My first published children’s story, Star-Crossed Rascals, will certainly make the reader cringe and laugh, not sure about cry though as it’s a chapter book for very young readers. In this story, I tried to show how scared a child can become of an adult who doesn’t understand the fears of children. The first half of the book was a true account of the things I did as a child, and although I didn’t have a cruel auntie, I had a very cruel teacher, who was supposed to teach me to read and write, but instead bullied, belittled and humiliated me for for four years of my childhood, causing me to believe I had a learning disability, or was too stupid to learn anything. I left school at the age of fourteen still unable to write properly.
That's horrible! But it's great that you are writing about it – someone has to. Are you a fast or a slow writer?
Um, well, I’m fast at thinking of a story, I don’t plan the plots. I just start writing and the story unfolds on the pages, but I’m a slow typist. I taught myself, so I look at the keys. However, I write so much that my speed has improved tremendously.
That's great! Now you'll be able to write many more wonderful and educational stories. How long does it take you to write a book?
I can write a children’s book in a few weeks, but I’m obsessive compulsive and so I edit and edit until I’m happy enough to publish. It can take me months to a year, but Star Cross Rascals only took a few months.
That's me as well. I can write a children's book in a relatively short time but it can take me a very long time to edit and be happy with it. Do you ever base physical appearance of your characters on people you know, portraits or actors?
This is a hard question because the characters are usually based on my own experiences, so I’d have to say me. But in Molly Gumnut, I used photos of the real bandicoot and also of my eight-year old niece, who also resembles me as a child.
I use another niece as her best friend, Lara, and also as other characters in my other books.
Introduce the main character from your latest book. Who are they? Let them speak for themselves. What would they like to say?
Here is Molly Gumnut, the main character in:
Molly Gumnut Rescues a Bandicoot.
Hello everyone. My name is Molly Mavis Gumnut and I’m eight. I just love animals, and I loved Tiddles too. He’s the black cat that lives next door in Mrs Wilson’s house. Well, guess what? That naughty cat went and hurt a baby bandicoot and I had to rescue him before Tiddles ate him. That sweet little bandicoot’s back was bleeding. Yuck! I don’t like blood. It makes me feel sick, but I had to help him. He’s so cute and I named him Furble, then I took him home to my daddy. Daddy and I took him to the animal hospital, but the vet said I couldn’t keep him. He said bandicoots are endangered marsupials and had to go to a wildlife sanctuary. I wanted to keep Furble, so I soon told him my Grandma is a member of a wildlife rescue. I was allowed to hand him to Grandma, but you know what? She said when Furble’s wounds are healed, she’s gonna send him back to his own territory to be with his mother. Well, she can’t do that because Tiddles will eat him for sure. I even told Grandma that Furble won’t have a mother if he’s dead, but she won’t listen to me. No one ever listens to me. Even when I asked Mrs Wilson to keep her cat indoors at night-time, she said I was an impudent child.
Well, I’m not letting Tiddles eat my Furble. I know how to look after bandicoots now because my Gran showed me. And after school today, I went to Grandma’s house and kidnapped Furble. Guess where he is? He’s in my backpack. I brought some mealworms and fruit with him too and I’m taking him far away to find him a much safer home. I know a secret place where we can be together forever and ever. Furble’s a bit scared though, so I sing songs to him that I make up just for him. He loves me and I love him. Oh, no! There’s a big black cloud above me and my legs hurt from walking so far. Do you know I went and forgot to bring some food and warm clothes for me? My tummy is rumbling and grumbling , but it’s a good job I brought a bunny rug for Furble. I’m cold now and it’s getting dark. I think it’s going to rain, so I can’t talk to you anymore. I have to get to my secret place before we get drenched, plus foxes and dingos come out at night. Yipes! I heard something growl.
Trisha and Molly, thank you very much for the interview and the introduction! It was great and I loved reading it. And I think bandicoots are becoming my favourite animals: they're so cute! But I don't think we have any here in Ukraine...
Available at Amazon as an eBook, and due in a few days as a paperback. Click this link to buy: Molly Gumnut Rescues a Bandicoot
Molly Gumnut loves her neighbour’s cat, but when she catches him attacking a baby bandicoot, she runs screaming into Mrs Wilson’s garden. After shooing the cat away, Molly rescues the injured critter and names him Furble. But when she takes him to the vet, he says she can’t keep him because bandicoots are protected native animals and must to go to a wildlife sanctuary. Molly doesn't let that stop her from keeping Furble. She informs the vet that her grandmother is a volunteer with a wildlife rescue and would gladly look after him. The vet gives in, but Molly is horrified when Grandma insists Furble will be released back to his own territory when his wounds have healed. Molly can’t let that happen, ’cause that’s where the big mean cat lives.
Well, no way will she let Tiddles hurt Furble again. She doesn't care if she gets into trouble for yelling at the neighbour, or disobeying her parents. She kidnaps the little bandicoot and takes him on a journey to find him a safer home. When things go wrong, Molly realises she’s made a bad mistake. Now Furble’s in more danger and so is Molly.
Be sure to learn more about Farida Mastac and her books at her website or her blog: http://the-upper-kingdom.blogspot.com/