Before releasing my book review on heavenward and my post on joining the Hallow book tour and my experience with it, I thought I’d introduce the author herself. The wonderful and amazing writer of the captivating dark fantasy series ‘The Celestial Creatures’ Olga Gibbs was kind enough to take time out of her busy scheduled to answer a few questions for us, isn’t that great?
So, I understand that You’ve published a book called Heavenward (The first book in the Celestial Creatures series) and will soon be publishing another book following Heavenward, was that planned from the beginning or did inspiration for a book series hit you after you had finished writing Heavenward?
It was originally planned as a series.
Although it was planned as a trilogy, but now it’s shaping up as four books
series. I even have titles ready for each of the books in the series:
“Heavenward”, “Hallow”, “Harbinger” and “Halo”.
“Heavenward” is a dark fantasy with elements of high fantasy and paranormal fantasy. “Hallow” is a dark urban fantasy with some paranormal elements, and the last two books will be high fantasy as I intend to take all the action into my fantasy realms, into my created worlds.
Could you share with us one or more of you’re writing ritual/s?
I write every day. Every day! Every single
day that I don’t work, I pack my children off to school, have breakfast and sit
down – ready to write. No excuses. No reason was ever good enough for not doing
it. Even when I was ill (well, still sick). Every day. From 9am until at least
3pm – before children will get back from school and will need their mother – I
will sit and write. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes all that I will show for so
many hours of work is just 500 words, sometimes even less, but that doesn’t
matter. What matters is that every day I have driven my story forward.
And I don’t begin to write without a plan. I have a rough plan, then make a more detailed one, might even expand it by the chapters (what will go where), but I don’t begin on my story until the plan is done – I hate wasting my time. You will see in the next two answers how valuable my time is!
Where did the inspiration behind Heavenward come from?
At first I had my character – Ariel. I had her with me for a few years now. She lived with me, inside me and one day when I was ready to write, I wondered what I could do with her – for her. Some parts of her is me. Some of her stories are my stories; some of it is from my childhood and my hurt (sorry, that’s as much as I am prepared to share now).
Ariel lived an incredibly tough life and I wanted her to have something good for a change. I wanted to give her her power back and for a good measure to throw humanity in it, to put us at her mercy, to turn the table. I’ve written this book for all girls out there, like Ariel – like I was once – powerless at that moment, struggling, emotionally and mentally. With this book I wanted to tell them, that they’re an incredible universe of their own, an archangel, who can change the world if decided to do so. I wanted these girls to know that their past doesn’t have to define them – I make sure every day that it doesn’t define me.
I find it incredibly sad that there are almost no books for girls like Ariel. There are books written for adults who suffered abuse, but nothing to help girls to push through, to let them know that there’s no shame, to make them feel that they’re not alone – and that’s the main issues: self-loathing, guilt, hate and utter isolation.
This topic is not appropriate for YA market (or so I was told), so here we are.
But I didn’t want to write a realistic book about Ariel’s abuse. I feel that someone who never lived through such things wouldn’t want to read about it, the way it would come out of me would be too disturbing. (You’ve read this book, right? And it’s me diluting it for the YA market), and girls, who lived through it, would never want to relive it, so that how this book became a fantasy. But I felt it was important to give Ariel a voice, to speak about the abuse that some girls are suffering on a daily basis.
“Heavenward” is a story of empowerment and the promise of hope.
What do you like to do in your spare time if you aren’t reading or writing?
I have very little spare time. I am writing every hour God sent. I read. I have family: husband and two teenage daughters, who need my support and guidance every day (and help with homework for GCSE year). I work part-time as a supply teacher in a secondary school and as a facilitator for the fantastic charity called “Juno Project”, which is operates in Sussex and is chaired by amazing woman, who I am proud to call my friend, Ali Golds. I am very passionate about this charity. The “Juno Project” provides support and empowers the girls, who are at risk from being excluded from school, to achieve their goals in spite of their challenges. Unfortunately, my illness precluded me from taking groups this academic year, but I am planning to get back swinging towards end of this year.
What does your family think of your writing? Have any of them read your book?
My family is very supportive of my writing. My husband always has encouraged me to write, but after I’ve read a few excerpts from “Hallow” to him, he thinks that I should drop all my other work engagements and spend my time only writing – honing my craft, so to speak. Both my girls read my book. The eldest has read both of my books and helped me with the first book a fair bit, mainly encouraging me, re-reading some parts back to me and quizzing me, challenging me, demanding me to do better. The youngest started reading “Heavenward” but she didn’t go past the scene of essence waking in Ariel. She teared up a bit there and said that doesn’t want to read any further. Fair enough. I always thought that if the book doesn’t bring you pleasure, you should close it and move on. Well, for me that applies to every book, apart from academic or research literature and documents.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Heavenward? And
do you hear from your readers much? What kind of things do they say?
I guess I was surprised to find out that I have such a great imagination – to create these worlds, creatures, clothing, and disturbing to think how dark my imagination can go – how twisted it can be, and that me trying to hold myself back as I still had YA book parameters to work within.
Very rarely a reader might write and say that they have enjoyed the book – I only had two to date – but these messages make me feel that I have done well and I have achieved that I set out to achieve. I love to see that some understood and saw (maybe read between the lines) what I was trying to do.
What would you say was your Kryptonite? What do you dislike writing about?
To write anything sweet and “plushy”. Cutesy things, romance, comedy, happily-ever-after stories – I don’t know how to do that. My impulse is to throw my characters into deep waters, with sharks circling them, and watch them swim. Or maybe they will drown each other?
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the good and bad ones?
That’s a very tricky one, every author will attest to that. I am tempted to read reviews, but for the last few months, I was learning and keeping myself away from all review platforms. With my logical mind, I know and understand that I can’t please everyone, nobody can – that’s simply impossible, but my heart wants to see and read reviews. I want to know if the years of my life and work have paid off, if baring myself to the world was worth the gamble. But I am learning to stay away – just to protect myself. It’s a simple self-preservation.
If you had to describe your main character in three words what would those three words be?
Difficult, broken, unapologetic.
What were the key challenges you faced when writing Heavenward?
The biggest challenge was to tone the story down for YA market (and I think I have miserably failed still). I wanted to write this book for girls of age 12-18 – this book is for them. For the girls, who may need this book so they don’t feel alone, for the girls who need to believe in themselves. This book is for them.
What was your highlight writing heavenward?
The readers who said that it’s the best book they have ever read (or even if it’s just the best book this year). The readers who have appreciated the story and understood what I was trying to do.
And lastly (I swear this is the last question I have) Do you have any piece of advice or favourite quote you could share with aspiring author’s such as myself?
Just two: “Grow a thicker skin if you want to publish your story” and “don’t wait for an inspiration to hit you – start working and the muse will come”.
Wow! Thank you, Olga, for sharing with us today. I can’t speak for everyone but I can speak for myself and I have to say this is one book that helped me out of a year reading funk, kept up at night and had my emotion rushing in a whirlwind while reading through it. Considering you’ve made it to #1 in Amazon I think it’d be safe to assume that your book has reached many women and young girls who are falling in love with your story and the world that you have built within your book.
If you would like to check out the book you can now download your copy FOR FREE. That’s right, in early celebration for the release of Hallow you can now get the #1 in amazon for Teen & Young Adult girls & Women Issues Nonfiction eBooks and #1 in Teen & Young Adult Folklore & Mythology eBooks! So don’t waste anytime and CLICK HERE to be directed to your free copy. And stay tuned for the release of the next book Hallow and my book review on it.