Saturday, August 12, 2023

Interview With Author Brooklin Gervais


1. What inspired you to write this book?

The main inspiration for the book was years of seeing children who experience tragedy, trauma, not learning how to socially or emotionally regulate themselves.  Many of us adults forget that being reactive to situations rather than responsive can be detrimental. Children, of all ages, including teens-especially teens, are impulsive and sometimes respond to situations without thinking.  The series attempts to help people of all ages use non-violent communication to express themselves and wellness strategies.  Another inspiration was to help send girls to college.  The proceeds from sales send girls who are inducted into the Kenna Foundation to post secondary institutions--not just the contributing author of the books, like Ellie and Brigid and Clarke the Cricket. 


2. What exactly is it about and who is it written for?

Ellie the Elephant and her Incredibly Normal Friends Children’s Book Series by Brooklin Gervais Illustrated by Skylar Easson is a refreshing series for children, teens, and adults! Ellie is a junior high school elephant but there is something quite different about Ellie. She meets a bunch of new kids from all parts of the inner jungle and the “wild side” like ostriches who try to fly, bumble bees who don’t sting, and a wise hip hop bat who hugs everybody! Some live up to their animalistic reputations, others not so much…like Ellie. Elephants are never supposed to forget, yet she can’t remember anything. She also listens to human music as if not having a great memory wasn’t enough of a problem.  She and her friends struggle with pressure from peers, teachers, parents and society. And yes, they worry about grades and friendships too! In the series, Ellie and her friends learn to accept that although it is normal to be different, it can come at a price. Each book highlights a story from one of Ellie’s friends as they show it’s tough in the jungle, wherever your jungle may be! 


3. What do you hope readers will get out of reading your book?

It is my hope that readers see themselves in the characters. Whether you are young or old, there is a lesson about being authentic and the truest version of yourself.  Each book in the series highlights the "awakening" of self through the use of wellness strategies when faced with tough choices--some which hit close to home for the character. One of the most powerful messages I hope readers will understand is the acceptance of self and being happy with the inner and outer you.


4. How did you decide on your book’s title and cover design?

I started with identifying the purpose and the why for writing the book, which was to "Elevate Mindset" and encourage people--particularly kids. Sometimes children skip over problem solving acquisition because they cannot see beyond themselves or even know their differences make them normal. They only see what society has told them to see about themselves, and fashion the idea that they don't fit in.  I thought about my own physical limitations and challenges over the years, and society's perception of those "unique aspects."  and realized we are all one big circle of friends. And normal too.  


I explained the vision and concept to my illustrator Skylar Easson, and she ran with it.  Skylar is a gifted artist who has a way of taking a concept without details and translating it into a visual image. The images that she illustrates emerge from her understanding of art, psychology, and how the brain processes printed messages is nothing short of amazing. It's like she can see into my mind.  She truly is my right hand with an intuitive knack for bringing the Ellie characters to life.  She calls it the "Ellie-verse"


5. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers – other than run!?

The advice I have for other writers is write what you know. Write what you are passionate about and never give up.  Dr. Suess is my hero because he never gave up.  He was turned down almost 100 times before any cat was in any hat, so my advice is to write!  The world needs you.  


6. What trends in the book world do you see -- and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading? 

I see a lot of writers self-publishing and that the book publishing industry will continue expanding the perfect hybrid of digital storytelling and marketing promotion of literary works. And within the growth and expansion self-publications will be intricately woven as writers continue to create and form partnerships within the industry.    


7. Were there experiences in your personal life or career that came in handy when writing this book? 

Many of the characters in the series are based on my own personal experiences, family members, friends,and  students I've worked with in the past. At a pre-book launch of Orpheus the Ostrich: Anything is Possible, many of the listeners commented that they could relate to many of the characters like "Orphie" even in their adult lives. So experience with pressure and peaceful conflict resolution training really helps! :) 


8. How would you describe your writing style? Which writers or books is your writing similar to?

I've been told my writing style is wildly imaginative and inspiring. Stylistically, I think I am more metaphorical and elliptical. I think my writing has an edge, complete with relaxed language that is conversational that seeks to impact the heart--evoke emotion-- while at same time address some very real issues in our world that kids and adults face. I'd say my writing is similar to Jon Scieszka.


9. What challenges did you overcome in the writing of this book?

The challenges that were overcome in writing this book was coordinating time with my contributing kid author. Working around her school schedule, illustrator's schedule as well as explaining the creative writing process can be different than lecturing on the book writing process itself. Another challenge was continuing to ensure the integrity of individual characters' uniqueness and their voice, while keeping in mind the story's intended message and "how" it is understood by the reader.  Needless to say, I learned a lot..  


10. If people can buy or read one book this week or month, why should it be yours?

The reason why people should buy this Ellie and Brigid's FIrst Day of School this month is two fold:  One... it's back to school time and every back-to schooler--young or old deserves a little inspiration for the first day.  And because this book can serve as a social story, it can help to reduce the anxiety of first day jitters by letting the reader know it is perfectly normal.



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