Author Interview with Gail Nyoka
The best way to teach people about different cultures and lifestyles is through storytelling. Adult authors like to keep this in mind when writing for children. Often, a story presents new concepts to children to expand their worldviews outside of what they see out their windows everyday. Author Gail Nyoka's first middle grade novel was developed from a folk tale from Zimbabwe and illustrates the idea of bringing old stories to a new audience. Below are her answers to my usual 10 questions along with links to buy her two novels.
1. How many books have you written and where can you buy them?
I have two books. The first, Mella and the N’Anga: An African Tale, is a children’s book for ages 9 and up. It’s based on a folk tale from Zimbabwe and was nominated for several literary prizes. Email me through my Website to order a copy. Or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The second book, Star’s Reflection, is a YA novel and is available July 28, 2016. You can get this from the publisher, Amazon, Barnes and Noble online, or by order from your bookstore. See the book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImFIE3pJFT8
2. What famous books can you compare to your own?
Mythology inspires my stories, but I wouldn’t say that they are similar to any famous books.
3. Why do you write for this particular age group?
I write the type of books that I would have liked to have read as a child. Back then, I was often disappointed not to see myself, or anyone like me represented in books; or if they were, it was pejoratively.
I also like the freedom of creating a world where magical elements are an accepted part of the fictional world.
Paradoxically, I prefer to tell oral stories to adults, although this medium is often thought of as one for children.
4. How autobiographical are your books?
In Star’s Reflection, the Toronto location is a house where I used to live, hidden attic room and all! But I have changed aspects of the street it was on.
5. What’s the best compliment that you’ve ever received about your writing?
I had great reviews of Mella and the N’anga, but the best compliment was when a man from Zimbabwe told me that it made him think of home. I am especially pleased when people from Zimbabwe enjoy the book. I have never been there, and had to do a lot of research for the story.
6. What has been your greatest moment as a writer so far?
I am a playwright, and my greatest moment was winning the Chalmers Canadian Play Award for Theatre for Young Audiences.
7. Where do you get your covers?
My publishers have always looked after the covers.
8. Who is your biggest fan?
My daughters are my biggest fans. They are so proud of my work.
9. What is next for you?
I am working on a new stage play for adults. I am also putting together a new oral story based on ancient Egyptian mythology. I am considering a follow-up to Star’s Reflection in the future.
10. A favorite quote
We feel truly satisfied with our life experiences, if we have truly tried to live from the heart of creation.
Phyllida Anam-Aire, from “A Celtic Book of Dying”
This is how I strive to live day by day.