My book, Charlie’s Flight through the Fire is the tale of Charlie’s travels to Fireland, where he meets the Fire Princess and goes on a problem-solving adventure for her. Along the way, he must resolve some inner conflicts and questions. Will he keep his promise to the Princess, or seek a shortcut to his own happiness?
What inspired you to write this particular story?
I’ve always loved fairy tales and I came across a great book, Beyond the Looking Glass, with Victorian fairy tales, poems, and novellas. Most of these were totally new stories to me. After reading a few, I decided that they should be resurrected and retold for today’s children. Charlie is the retelling of one of those.
What are you working on right now?
Right now, I’m retelling another old satirical fairy tale, which I call Nonni’s Nosegay. It was originally written for children and adults. I’m having a lot of fun updating this story, and adding current language and bugaboos. I’m also in the revision stage of an original fairy tale, Adventures with Zooey and Billie, the Spotted Horse.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your work-in-progress?
A one-sentence synopsis of Nonni’s Nosegay: A tale of political foibles and the comeuppance of pretentious people.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I never thought I would be a writer. When I was in college, my most dreaded class was creative writing. In fact, when I decided to take on the challenge of retelling some of the old stories, I didn’t really think I could do it. But with my husband’s encouragement (okay, pushing me every step of the way), I buckled down and took the plunge.
Does writing come easy for you? What’s been the most surprising part of being a writer?
The most surprising part of being a writer is that it does come fairly easy to me. Once I develop the idea, I don’t usually have a hard time writing it down. Most of my time seems to be spent looking for exactly the right word to express what I’m thinking. In Zooey, I spent days doing research to make sure all the facts were correct. Without the Internet and the Thesaurus, writing would be very hard for me.
What are your current writing goals and how do you juggle the promotional aspects with the actual writing?
My current writing goals are to finish Nonni, revise Zooey, and promote Charlie. I have two other books coming out soon and will have to address promoting all three books. Juggling all that, and writing, will be my own personal adventure. But I’m hoping to learn a lot by promoting Charlie. Somewhere, I hope, I’ll be able to find a balance between promotional activity and writing.
Have you written any other books?
I have two books, Four Wishes for Timmy and Jake and the Wizard of Tilmore Forest, coming out, possibly in November, from Second Wind Publishing. Actually, the two books are based on a retelling of the same Victorian fairy tale and will be published together as one book. One half will be Timmy’s story and then the reverse half will be Jake’s. Timmy’s story takes place in the 1600’s, whereas Jake is a boy in the 21st century. It’s a unique concept and I’m very happy Mike Simpson (Second Wind’s publisher) thought of it.
Where do you get the names for your characters?
Sometimes the names just pop into my head, like Nonni and Zooey. Other times, I try to invent names that might give a clue to the character’s personality. And there is always the serendipity moment when you see a name and you know you have to put it in a story. That happened to me while driving to Delaware. I passed an exit for Dinwiddie, VA and knew that I couldn’t let the name go to waste. So I pulled off at the next exit, and pulled out my trusty notebook (I never leave home without it) and wrote it down. That translated to Archduke Dinwiddie, a major character in Nonni’s Nosegay.
Do your characters ever take on a life of their own?
Zooey and Billie definitely took on lives of their own. Sometimes I really began to wonder where they were leading me. My other characters do pop out, but I usually rein them in so I don’t drift too far from the actual fairy tale I’m retelling.
Would it matter to you if you were never published? (In other words, would it matter if no one ever read your books?) Why or why not?
I guess I originally thought it wouldn’t matter if anyone read my books. But as my characters grew and came to life, I really wanted to share them and their stories with other people, in my case, children of all ages. So yes, it matters if my books get published. These old fairy tales are treasures and they deserve to be dusted off, freshened up, and cherished by a whole new generation of story lovers.
Who designed your cover?
My cover and all the illustrations in Charlie were done by Ginnie Conaway. She has been an absolute pleasure to work with, and I feel privileged that she has included my opinion in every step of the process.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself or your books?
I’ve had the privilege of living in different parts of this country and I’ve met some very different types of people. But I’ve always found that everyone, especially children, loves a good story. Maybe that’s why I write – to bring stories to people that will allow them to escape to a fantasy world where dreams come true. Everyone, even children, need to stretch his or her imaginations and reach beyond the mundane humdrum dreariness of routine. A little sprinkling of fairy dust on the mind can transport us, even if just for a little while. I hope my books do that.
Where can people learn more about your books?
I talk about my books and their progress on my blog, Sparrow’s Castle (sparrowscastle.wordpress.com) and on Facebook (www.facebook.com/#1/eileen.donovan.923). I’m also currently building a website that will be interactive. I will post the opening lines of a story, and kids will be able to complete it. The story will change every month. I’ll announce the opening of the website on Sparrow’s Castle and Facebook.