The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Gloria D Gonsalves About Lamellia: The Kingdom of Mushrooms

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The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Gloria D Gonsalves About Lamellia: The Kingdom of Mushrooms

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Summary: Jill enjoyed Lamellia: The Kingdom of Mushrooms by Gloria D Gonsalves and said that she'd be glad to read it to any child. She and the author had lots to chat about when Gloria popped into Bookbag Towers.
Date: 6 October 2016
Interviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy

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Jill enjoyed Lamellia: The Kingdom of Mushrooms by Gloria D Gonsalves and said that she'd be glad to read it to any child. She and the author had lots to chat about when Gloria popped into Bookbag Towers.

  • Bookbag: When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?

Gloria D Gonsalves: I see curious minds. I also see readers who are not limited by genre and ethnicity.

  • BB: This forest story has themes of diversity and celebrating difference. It seems timely, given the refugee crisis and the recent vote in the UK to leave the EU. Were these things in your mind when you conceived it?

GDG: Traditionally, storytelling in Tanzania is rich of trickster figures for example, the clever hare (rabbit) and foolish hyena. Each of these animals portrays morals of different told stories. Possibly, this way of storytelling influenced how I wrote Lamellia.

Politics was not in my mind but a big, brown and ugly mushroom I encountered during a forest walk in the Siebengebirge, Germany. It kept cropping up in my thoughts. So I began paying attention to mushrooms. One day I thought why not write a story involving mushrooms and something out of normality. During forest walks I continued observing and photographed a lot of mushrooms. I also bought a mushrooms book and visited a mushrooms museum for further character inspiration.

  • BB: Your story about Danloria was illustrated by children. What made you choose Nikki Ngombe, an adult, to illustrate Lamellia for you?

GDG: My intention has always been to involve children themselves in my books. I value and appreciate the initial efforts before a person becomes popular and famous. There is something divine in the initial stage where one is evoking unpolished creativity.

I found the scenes in Lamellia challenging. How do I ask a four year old to draw Amanitas lined up followed by a crying baby? How do I turn down a child’s drawing because it does not fit? I opted for a young adult.

I know Nikki through her mother, Rosemary, who is a friend and work colleague. So I casually asked if her daughter would consider drawing for my book. Nikki agreed to collaborate. Illustrating for my book is the first public display of her work. I hope she remains inspired and have greater projects come her way.

  • BB: We hope so too, Gloria. What makes you want to write for children?

GDG: Writing a children’s book was an idea after I read an article about diamond poems. As a children’s book, it would be plain with just poetry. So I decided to incorporate drawings to it. That’s how I began writing for children as well as the beginning of my involving children in drawing for my books.

Being a full-time employee, I find it fulfilling to write children’s stories. Their nature is not lengthy which gives me generous time to create. I also appreciate the gift of playfulness in children’s stories. Writing for children is my time to play and behave like one.

  • BB: How have you found the process of publishing your own books?

GDG: I regard self-publishing as a choice. Whatever choice a writer makes, they should be ready for the consequences too. Publishing my own books gives me the freedom to control my work and at my own pace. It has not been a smooth road though. My first book "Emotional Turmoil" was a mess: from editorial to the layout. As an independent author, it was learning by doing.

To become a great writer is progressive efforts. One has to keep writing until the greatest book. And once there, it might be only that one greatest book. Then the trial becomes not to waver. Because that's where greatness lies; showing up even when things are not so great.

  • BB: What advice would you offer to aspiring authors?

GDG: The writing life can be divided into three purposes: (a) those who open the way for aspiring writers (b) those who pledge to serve others with written word without fame and success (c) those who are prominent and famously celebrated. There is nothing wrong with any of these. They are different battalions serving the writing legion. As writers, we cannot all fit in one order. Your job as a writer is to be one, two or all of these three. Stop comparing your order of writing to others. Focus on maintaining and passing on the concept of your order so it lives on.

  • BB: Which writers have influenced you most?

GDG: I am stimulated by the work of various writers spanning through different forms of literature. Maya Angelou moved me to write poetry. Shaaban bin Robert safeguards the presence of my mother tongue Swahili. Paulo Coelho encourages me to see spirituality in sinned life. Beatrix Potter nudges me to discover fantasy in nature. M.G. Vassanji has enthused me to consider writing a novel. There are more not mentioned here, whose writing glowed a guidance in my life.

  • BB: What would be your desert island book?

GDG: I will bring a pen and a paper to write one.

  • BB: What three books should every child read?

GDG: I prefer open-mindedness by not limiting what a child should read. A combination of comic, poetry and fantasy is a good medium for fun, structure and imagination.

  • BB: What's next for Gloria D Gonsalves?

GDG: I have two draft manuscripts requiring my attention. Meanwhile, I lend an ear to Gabriel, my writing genie, for new ideas. And of course, all things related to managing World Children's Poetry Day (WoChiPoDa), an initiative aimed at instilling the love of poetry in young people.

  • BB: Thanks for chatting to us, Gloria and we wish you every success with the books.

You can read more about Gloria D Gonsalves here.

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