Yvette Carol, writer ~
My purpose in life is to write
Fantastic fiction for children
Danger without leaving your armchair!
My Background ~
In 1962, my parents emigrated from England to New Zealand with my two elder sisters. I was born in 1964, my brother two years later. We were raised Catholic. As a child, Mum tells me, I had a vivid imagination.
The curtains in the bedroom I shared with my younger brother displayed a variety of animals and toys. A favourite game was to take turns with my brother, to pick an image from the curtains and make up a story. The author Lee Child said, “We are not story showers, we’re story tellers.” I relate to that primarily because I know that’s how I started out. Before I knew how to write, as a three-year-old, I started out telling stories to my brother.
From the age of seven, I could read and write. In class each time the teacher asked us to write a story, I remember being gripped with a spirit of joy. In the absolutely powerless world of the child, I had something I was good at doing.
I was a tomboy. I spent my days outdoors, barefoot – there was a sense of limitlessness then. That state is what I crave to return to in my books.
We kids spent half the year exploring the forest and backyards. We played Bulrush, cowboys and Indians, raided the old orchard for peaches. We picnicked in the bush and rode our bikes. The other half of the year, we spent in the Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand. We camped and fished with dad off the beach. We explored the mountain and raced down vertical hillsides on cardboard. We made tunnels and caves in the waist-high bracken.
Back at home in the city, if it was really stormy – unbeknown to my parents – I would let myself out the bedroom window and run around outside in the rain. This is the true story behind one of my earliest hand-written hand-drawn “books”, which I wrote in my late teens, The Unsightly Wet Nightie. But that’s the way things were when I was young. We were wild and carefree and I always felt safe.
High School Year ~ I started hanging with a new group of friends and the years of teenage rebellion began. At sixteen-years-old, I left school with U.E accredited and pregnant with my first child. For the first three years of my son’s life, I studied fashion design part time. I worked a number of jobs. I worked in a café, as a bartender, a cleaner, a phone salesperson and a shop assistant. I studied photography, art and writing part-time. And in my spare time, I wrote short stories and children’s stories. The short stories were forced but the children’s stories came naturally. That was when I began to feel the pleasure of storytelling I’d had when I was a little girl start to return. I began to develop characters along mythical storylines: The Survivors, and The Great Adventures of Splat the Wonder Dog, and The Colour Secret. I spent years illustrating them by hand. Every time I showed them to a publisher, I was told the same thing, ‘fantasy doesn’t sell’, ‘there’s no market for fantasy’.
Freelance Journalism ~ In 1983 after attending a live band, I wrote about the show, and the article appeared in the Auckland University newspaper, Bifim. Later, I landed my first job as a freelance journalist for the Inner City News. During the rest of that decade, I wrote articles, interviews and even restaurant reviews for the inner city papers: the Inner City News, the City of Sails, the Harbour News, the Sunday News and Fifty Plus. But it was the feature articles I enjoyed writing the most. These were published in Auckland’s Metro Magazine. I enjoyed them because they were the most like telling story.
In those years, I worked full-time as a nanny. I took on the daily care of my nephew from the time he was three weeks old to the age of seven years. This helped me to stay in touch with my target audience and with what children were reading. I married again in my mid-thirties and had two children with my second husband. Our first child, a boy, was born with Down Syndrome. Our second child together and my third son was born with a hole in his heart. He had open heart surgery at the tender age of five and made a full recovery. After ten years together, my husband and I separated. I became a single parent again. My youngest sons and I live together.
I like to share stories with my youngest boys. They’re avid readers and reading together is part of our daily ritual. My youngest son wrote me a Mother’s Day poem this year that said, “I like it when mum reads me stories.”
Nathaniel Hawthorne ~ I think it’s the American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of The Scarlet Letter, with whom I feel the greatest kinship. Of him, his close school friend said, Hawthorne lived ‘in a mysterious world of imagination which he never permits me to enter.’ Upon graduation, Hawthorne retreated to his home in Salem to become a writer. He spent a full twelve years in solitude writing. Like Hawthorne, I spent most of my twenties and early thirties at home with my parents, in seclusion, writing.
Throughout the years of writing, and finding my voice, and my style, I also stumbled upon my genre. I write fantasy fiction for the upper middle grade.
As the inimitable Mr. Nathaniel Hawthorne put it so eloquently in 1853, “Children are now the only representatives of the men and women of that happy era (the golden age) and therefore it is that we must raise the intellect and fancy to the level of childhood, in order to recreate the original myths.”
I hope that one day someone will say of my book(s) what Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said of Hawthorne’s Twice-told Tales… “Live ever, sweet, sweet book.”
At present ~The real work-in-progress is a trilogy called, The Chronicles of Aden Weaver. I self-published the first book, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta’ in 2015. I’m currently working on the second book in the series, ‘The Sasori Empire.’
Yvette K. Carol
Worlds of imagination
All Forms of Life are Sacred
To live a creative life we must first lose the fear of being wrong. ~ Joseph Chilton Pearce