AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Rachel Noble
I'm so excited to welcome my lovely friend Rachel Noble to my blog this time! Rach is one of the first friends I made in the kidlit community, and I'm so pleased to see what an amazing reception her gorgeous debut picture book, Finn's Feather (amazingly illustrated by Zoey Abbott, and published by Enchanted Lion Books) is having right now. Let's take it away with the Q&A...
Can you tell us a bit about your book, and the themes/issues it explore?
One day, Finn discovers an amazing white feather right on his doorstep. It’s obviously from Hamish, his brother who is now an angel. He’s sure of it. Finn excitedly tells his mum, but she just takes a deep breath and gives him a big hug. He also tells his teacher, who gives him a big smile. Why aren’t they excited, too? The feather is amazing! Fortunately, his friend Lucas gets it. Hamish wants Finn to have fun with the feather!
What follows is a grand day of fun and friendship, inspired by the best brother ever! ‘Finn’s Feather’ explores loss and grief from the perspective of a child. Although the theme is a heavy one, the book is not, it will leave you feeling lighter, brighter and full of hope.
What was the inspiration behind writing this particular story, and did it change much as you were writing it?
My inspiration was my late son Hamish who passed away in 2012. I was also inspired by the challenges my other children faced in the wake of our tragedy. I wanted more from the books on offer. I wanted them to dig a little deeper.
My inspiration never changed but as the book progressed, I started to think more about every child and what they could gain from the book and I quickly realised it was just as valuable to a child who isn’t grieving.
How do you hope readers will connect with the book, and/or what do you want them to take away from it?
For grieving children, I hope they take away comfort and hope and the belief that the ones we love (who are taken from us), never actually leave us. I also hope that other children feel an urge to comfort someone who is going through something challenging.
Biggest challenges in writing this story, or in getting it published?
I have been very fortunate with this story. A few publishers saw its potential right from the beginning (when it was a little scrappier!). I knew I wanted the best for this one, which is why I approached Enchanted Lion. I knew they would take it where it needed to go.
Are there any tidbits from the publishing process of this book that you could share with regards to working with the publishers and/or the illustrator?
Be patient. Sometimes you have to wait longer than you’d like to get the outcome you’re looking for. ‘Finn’s Feather’ was worth the wait.
Do you have any suggestions on ways parents, teachers, librarians, booksellers and readers can get more out of the book? For example, questions to discuss or ponder, activities to complete etc.
I would suggest looking at the Teachers’ Notes for Finn’s Feather. You can find them here: https://www.newsouthbooks.com.au/books/finns-feather/
What influences do you think shape your writing?
I’m driven by big emotions and feelings. I have written a few humourous books, but I’m definitely pulled to write stories that help children navigate big emotions and issues.
Can you let us in on any sneak peeks into your next books or other projects?
Nothing I can talk about yet! But I am in discussions about future books. Fingers crossed I can talk about them soon!
Do you have a favourite children's book (or top three) that you can never get enough of? What about a favourite book character?
I love Raymie Nightingale from Kate Di Camillo. I love how she simply and effectively reaches the heart of her stories. I was a massive fan of Anne of Green Gables growing up. I loved her sass and her temper!
Can you tell us something not a lot of people know about you?
To be honest, I’m a bit of an over-sharer, so I’m pretty much an open book. But I struggle sometimes, and I don’t think a lot of people see the struggle. The loss of a child is life-changing.
Where do you do your writing, and do you have any particular rituals in your creative process?
I used to write by candlelight at night, and I loved that but with four children and a busy household, I don’t get to do that anymore! So I’m afraid, I’ve had to forgo rituals and just squeeze it in when I can!
What got you into creating books?
It’s something I probably never would have attempted if it wasn’t for Hamish. After he passed away, it became a compulsion. I was also encouraged to write by agent, Selwa Anthony. I also feel an urge to write picture books. A lot of them I write for Hamish.
Do you have some tips for other creatives?
Know what you want and be persistent. Also, allow rejection to be a part of the process. Unfortunately, that’s par for the course. Also find friends in the same boat as you.
What about a favourite word or quote?
She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails. Elizabeth Edwards.