Thursday, 19 January 2012

DIVERSITY MATTERS: Does multiculturalism promote separateness? by debut author, Ellie Daines.

* Hi Ellie and welcome to tall tales & short stories.
Would you like to tell us a bit about yourself?

I was born and raised in north London and grew up as an only child.
At university I studied journalism and then later pursued a career in digital marketing before becoming a writer.


Lolly is Lolly Luck by name, lucky by nature. 
She always wins magazine competitions, on scratch cards and any game you can think of. 
But when Lolly’s dad loses his job and then the family home, Lolly’s luck starts to change.
And when she overhears her parents arguing, she learns a secret that will change her life forever.


* What inspired you to write Lolly Luck?

I originally based the story on a personal experience where I unfortunately had a job interview cancelled, and I decided that I’d turn that particular situation into a story which evolved into my novel Lolly Luck.

* Do you think it's important that children’s books reflect all kinds of life experiences and from all kinds of perspectives and social classes to truly reflect our multi-cultural, multi-background society?

Yes I do think it’s important because it brings a diverse richness to storytelling and gives children the opportunity to feel like they’re stepping into someone else’s shoes. However, I’m also of the mindset that books along with other media should strive to celebrate similarities as well as difference.

For me, growing up in Britain, first generation British Afro-Caribbean, while I love the creativity, the expression and culture that our multicultural society radiates, I am at the same time concerned that rather than bringing people together, multiculturalism has sometimes promoted separateness, something which can cause ill feeling and suspicion.

With literature, sometimes a book is presented in the media as being say, a Muslim story or an African story, when essentially it’s a universal story which we can all relate to it, no matter what race or social background we come from. Certainly with Lolly Luck, although Lolly might be black, much of what she experiences could happen to any child.

* Do you think when dealing with issues and situations such as Lolly’s it is essential to be as truthful and true to life as possible? And what, if anything, do you hope your readers will gain from reading Lolly’s story?

Yes I do believe it’s essential to be truthful with the issues and certainly the issues that my novel tackles such as marriage breakup, loss of home and bullying, are things that affect many children. For youngsters who have gone through a similar situation to Lolly, I hope that my book is able to show them that it is possible to maintain a positive outlook despite the problems around them.

I’d like to quote a couple of things from another author interview in my Diversity Matters series:

* I wondered if you had any thoughts on the above comments and perhaps would like to add to, or disagree with, what has been said?

Like Malorie there weren’t many stories I read as a child that had characters who looked like me, which meant only occasionally did I get the chance to explore the lives of children from a similar background. But I do think things are better now. There are more stories around that are written from a variety of cultural perspectives, challenging stereotypes and promoting tolerance.

* What made you think ‘I want to write for children’? Is it a genre you enjoy reading?

I liked the idea of being able to write about real issues that some children experience and give them something they could relate to. I do enjoy reading other children’s books and it’s great to know that there is such a diverse tapestry of stories out there.

* Which authors/stories did you enjoy reading as a child/teenager?

I was a big fan of Roald Dahl’s books as a child. In my early teens I was addicted to the Sweet Valley High books but by the age of 15 I moved on to adult books and would read anything from Catherine Cookson to James Baldwin.

* Words of wisdom and advice to any aspiring writer?

Don’t give up whether, for example, you’re trying to find an agent or trying to complete your novel.

Lolly Luck ~ a tall tales & short stories review

Lolly Luck is very fitting for our times, as it relates the struggle of what many families can identify with, the struggle of coping with job loss and dramatic changes in family circumstances. We go on this journey with the endearing, Lolly, whose heart is in the right place even if she doesn't always make the wisest of choices.

The book tackles some serious issues and I think this is the strength of the novel and why I thought it should also feature in the Diversity Matters series. I can't give too much away for fear of spoilers but the secret that Lolly learns is a significant life changer. And the dynamics of how Lolly's dad copes or rather, doesn't cope, with the loss of his job, is tackled with honesty and integrity. Because sadly his story is one that is all too familiar in these economic times.

Lolly Luck is a book that tackles many issues in a sensitive but realistic manner, and at it's heart is a young girl trying to come to terms with the things life throws at her and the family she loves.



Beth Kemp said...

Interesting post! I think diversity is really important in kids' books, and that it's particularly important that we have books (like Lolly Luck sounds) that add to the diversity of children's books but aren't 'about' diversity or necessarily culture-specific: universal themes can be played out by any kind of kid.

mary kinser said...

I agree with Beth. There's a real need for books that feature characters of diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds, as well as other categories of diversity, but aren't "issue" books.

Thanks for this interview and the review of "Lolly Luck". It sounds like a great book and one I'll be adding to my TBR list!

Tracy said...

Glad you enjoyed the interview, Beth and Mary!

The Diversity Matters series is one I hope to continue in the near future.

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