Twinkle’s Starlight follows a star on a journey through the universe to find its light. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
My inspiration for Twinkle’s Starlight came from a self-reflection of my own experience. I spent my twenties studying and travelling, trying to find my place in the universe. Sometimes I looked for answers in the wrong places, but it was all part of the journey to finding my way to becoming who I am. It is, and was, an adventure of self-discovery, which I think is a lifelong quest for us all as we each navigate our way through different or similar circumstances. We all have our own light within us, and once found, we should let it shine as brightly as we can, so we can guide others when the opportunity arises to do so.
I loved the beautiful art pieces in this book. What was the art collaboration like with illustrator Carole Higgins?
The collaboration with Carole Higgins was an awesome experience. Once I had formed the script of the story, I passed the manuscript on to Carole to create the illustrations. All the artwork is Carole’s visual perception of the message found within the text, there was no storyboarding, just “this is the story, would you like to do the illustrations?” Which is a totally different technique to how Carole usually works.
On canvas, Carole would usually use a live or photographic reference for the portrait interpretation. She did an amazing job in rising to the new challenge of book illustration. Carole is an amazingly creative and imaginative artist, and the person who I have to thank for my own creativity as ‘Twinkle’s Starlight’ was the result of mother-daughter collaboration.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
The main theme of importance for me is that through our individual life journeys we will encounter times of struggle, excitement, despair, loneliness, happiness, companionship and so on. But in the end, when we achieve our goals, and find where we belong, it will all be worth it as long as we don’t give up.
Sometimes other people might not be willing or able to help, or simply do not agree with the path we are on.
Sometimes you might not be willing or able to receive the help that is offered. Sometimes you might be walking with someone on parallel paths that seem the same but eventually diverge.
Sometimes you will be on the path entirely alone.
And sometimes you will be surrounded by people.
In every circumstance, it is ok, and you will find your way as long as you keep going. I would be lying if I said I had all this figured out in my own life. But that is what ‘Twinkle’s Starlight’ is all about – the journey of figuring out where you belong in life, and looking toward the future.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
As author, I am currently working on another illustrated children’s book. The availability is yet to be confirmed.
In an editorial role, ‘You Can’t Ride a Yak: Looking for yaks and finding God’s call in Nepal’ written by Sarah Reardon was recently released by Ark House. ‘You Can’t Ride a Yak,’ is the autobiography of Sarah’s journey in founding the Wise Woman Project charity organisation. It is an amazing story of strength, faith, hope, and love for both people and country. The book is available for purchase from the WWP website (https://wisewomanproject.com) and Ark House Press (https://www.arkhousepress.com/you-cant-ride-a-yak/).
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Twinkle, once a brightly shining star high in the night sky, is now alone on a journey to find himself again. He is like no one else now but refuses to give up his mission to rejoin the other stars and illuminate all around him. As Twinkle searches for the light he has been promised exists for him, he encounters one planet after another. Each of the planets explains in no uncertain terms that they cannot give him what he seeks, but each directs him toward Sol, the sun. Twinkle’s journey is long, and he is persistent; the lesson he learns is an important one.
Twinkle’s Starlight, written by Rachael Higgins and illustrated by Carole Higgins, is a beautifully illustrated children’s science fiction book that perfectly balances fact and fantasy. The sweet story of Twinkle’s journey to find his light leaves readers with the distinct feeling of hope, motivating them to persist in all things. Though an unlikely character and one who is different from any other in a children’s science fiction story, Twinkle fits in nicely with this genre and provides young readers with an oddly lovable character to champion.
As an elementary teacher, I was pleasantly surprised at the mixture of fiction and nonfiction in Higgins’s work. From cover to cover, teachers will be able to use Twinkle’s Starlight to easily illustrate elements of both fiction works and nonfiction text. I can see Higgins’s book being used as part of a science curriculum or as an integral part of an interdisciplinary text set for ages 6-10. Twinkle’s Starlight makes for a fantastic classroom read aloud.
Carole Higgins has done a wonderful job of illustrating Twinkle’s adventure. The paintings are quite striking and add to the nonfiction feel of the tale. While colorful and appealing to the eye, they are true to the images students will most likely have seen in their science texts. The illustrator’s style and choice of color schemes make the illustrations especially eye-catching. Every other page has a beautiful canvas painting of stars, planets and space that are all one-of-a-kind.
The stunning illustrations and touching story will have young readers asking for more from Twinkle. The message throughout Twinkle’s Starlight is a strong one and definitely one that will resonate with elementary students.
Pages: 27 | ASIN: B08LT9HH4D
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The Silver Tabby is a wonderfully illustrated children’s book about a kitten that struggles to fit in with the other cats. What was your inspiration behind this kids book?
The Silver Tabby was initially written as a high school English assignment. At the time, the class was studying the topic of myths and fairytales, and how the stories portrayed a message or lesson to pass on to the next generation. The assignment task was to write and illustrate a story that embedded a lesson relevant to our societal paradigm. In completing the assignment, I wanted to pass on the message that differences can be beneficial, and that no-one should be judged based on their appearance of being different. I was inspired by authors such as Beatrix Potter and A. A. Milne, with their use of animal characters to portray their stories. Having a love of animals myself, I wanted to use animals in my story to spread a message of hope, kindness, and reconciliation. I also followed the commonly heard writer’s advice of “write what you know” and incorporated some of my own experiences of being considered different, spending time alone; as a result, then receiving acceptance.
Over the years, since the original high school assignment, The Silver Tabby has been redrafted and revamped, but the inspiration and passion in telling the story have remained the same. I believe that passing on the message of accepting others for who they truly are, and not enforcing sameness, is an essential lesson to teach our future generations.
Are you a cat person or a dog person (I’m guessing a cat person)? Do you have any pets that this story was based on?
I would say that I am an animal person in general, not specific to being a cat person or a dog person. However, I have had both animals as pets in the past as well as guinea pigs, and most recently, rats. I’m the type of person who will go for a walk and rescue a lost or injured animal or will visit an animal shelter and want to adopt all the animals to make sure they have a happy, loving, and safe home.
When I originally started writing The Silver Tabby, I had a short-hair silver tabby cat named Silver who the main character of the book is based on. The real Silver was born from my families’ then neighbour’s cat, who had chosen the enclosed area where our hot water tank was stored, below our Queenslander-style home, as a warm, safe place to birth her litter of kittens. The kittens were a mix of tortoiseshells, ginger tabbies, and black furred kittens; Silver was the only silver tabby. Our neighbours called Silver’s mother, Mama Cat. Mama Cat would lead the kittens between our house and the neighbour’s; Silver would venture away from the litter and come inside our house and make herself comfortable while I read. I think Silver really ended up adopting me rather than the other way round.
I loved the illustrations in this book. What was the collaboration like between you and the illustrator Grace Elliott?
Grace is fantastic to work with; I would recommend any author seeking an illustrator for their children’s book to look Grace up on Instagram. Initially, I showed Grace a draft of the text and concept of illustrations that I had drawn years ago for the high school assignment; and later digitally remastered for a later draft. Then Grace worked her magic on the artwork for The Silver Tabby. I feel I made the right decision collaborating with Grace, rather than illustrating the story myself. Grace’s artwork compliments the text and sets the scenes of the story, bringing the characters to life, in a way that I couldn’t have done myself.
As an artist, Grace was willing to accept feedback and advice from other artists, as we amended drafts, and she shared my vision as the author for how the book might look as a finished product. Most of our collaboration was done online, as I spent a lot of the last year moving intercity and overseas, Grace was very patient and understanding throughout every pause and readjustment that was made during the production of The Silver Tabby. I am very grateful to have had Grace onboard for the project, and would gladly work with Grace again.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have a couple of concepts that I am working on at the moment. Another illustrated book that poetically portrays the epic clash between Heaven and Hell. I expect this book will be available within the next year or two. The other concept is a romantic story of undetermined length, and availability, at this stage; although I anticipate the story to evolve into a novella if not a novel.
The Silver Tabby is about a kitten named Silver who struggles with being different from the other kittens in her litter.
Then one day, Silver manages to become the same as the other kittens. Excited to meet a new friend, all the kittens play happily together. But, Silver’s disguise does not last long.
When the other kittens discover their new friend is Silver, will she still be accepted?
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