Today we have children’s author Maxine Sylvester to tell us all about her new book. We love children’s books here so we were thrilled to ask her to join us.
“I enjoyed watching Ronaldo’s character develop. I feel the first book is an introduction to Ronaldo.”
What is your book about?
The Ronaldo series is about the adventures of a young reindeer that goes to flying academy.
What inspired the idea for your novel?
I was never a confident child so wanted to write a children’s book with a message. The Reindeer Flying Academy is about self belief. Ronaldo’s grandad always say’s to him, “Imagine! See it, feel it, believe it. You can do anything if you truly believe in yourself.” So when Ronaldo is faced with his toughest ever flying challenge, he remembers these words and uses them to encourage himself. If the story inspires one child then it will have been worth writing it.
What made you decide to write for children?
I’m still a child myself! I get excited every time a new Disney film comes out. My niece say’s I am in touch with my inner child so I think it’s an advantage when writing for children. I am also an illustrator and have always loved fun illustrations with cute characters and bright colours rather than fine art. Writing for children just makes sense to me.
How long did it take you to write your novel?
The Reindeer Flying Academy took about one year to write and illustrate. The second book, The Phantom Carrot Snatcher, took the same amount of time but the book is much longer. The third, Rudi’s Birthday Extravaganza, was complete in nine months. There were less re-writes and I was more experienced using Photoshop. I’m getting the hang of things now!
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I enjoyed watching Ronaldo’s character develop. I feel the first book is an introduction to Ronaldo, the following two books are longer so I had the opportunity to experiment with his personality. He’s a good role model for children but he isn’t perfect. He can be overly ambitious and a little selfish, but he’s also courageous, thoughtful and kind.
What did you research the most while writing this book?
I researched reindeer, their habits, what food’s they eat etc. For the second book I researched wolves. Ronaldo befriends a wolf cub even though wolves are reindeer predators. I posted any interesting facts on the Ronaldo www.ronaldotheflying reindeer.com website under, ‘ERNIE’S FUN FACTS,” so children can learn too. For example, did you know that no two reindeer antlers are the same? They are the equivalent of human fingerprints.
For those who have not discovered your novel, how would you describe it to get them interested?
The Ronaldo series of books are funny, exciting, adventurous and heartfelt. They are aimed at children aged 6-10 years, but many adult reviewers have said they laughed at the stories as well. They are ideal for parents to read with children, or for early chapter readers to enjoy alone.
What inspired you to be a writer?
I am an illustrator and wanted to write a short story about a character I had created. Little did I know how many ideas I had bottled up inside – it was like opening Pandora’s box. The book went from a picture book in to a fully blown chapter book. I am publishing my third Ronaldo book this month and his fourth adventure is already in my head.
Who’s your favourite character arc of all time, fiction/or onscreen and why?
Mickey Mouse. I love his kind heart and optimism. To me, he is a symbol of everything that’s good in the world. Even his bouncy walk makes me smile!
What do you think makes the best character arc?
I like character’s that aren’t perfect but who learn from their mistakes. In the second Ronaldo book, The Phantom Carrot Snatcher, Ronaldo’s selfish side comes through. He wants to go for glory rather than help Ernie the wolf cub. But Ernie comes to his defence when he is danger. It’s a turning point for Ronaldo. He admires her bravery and wants be like her, and discovers an inner courage he never knew he had. He learns from his imperfections.
Are you working on anything new at the moment?
I am finishing up my third Ronaldo adventure, Rudi’s Birthday Extravaganza, ready for September release. It’s a summer reindeer tale. I am also working on a colour version of my first book, The Reindeer Flying Academy. Some reviewers said they would have preferred colour illustrations rather than black/white, so I am working flat out so that I can publish it in November, ready for Christmas. Phew! I will take a break in January.
What is the theme or message of your book?
The message in the first book is self belief. The second story teaches friendship and sacrifice, and the third, Rudi’s Birthday Extravaganza, is about kindness. I want children to enjoy reading exciting stories, but also resonate with the characters and learn from them. I also want them to feel they are picking up an old friend, the way I did whenever I picked up a Harry Potter book.