Kaeli Baker is the pen name of a young Auckland writer who has worked in the area of youth psychiatric care. This is her first novel for young adult readers (it’s suitable for readers over 15) and it deals with important teen issues such as rape, mental illness, attempted suicide, self-harm, and family breakups. Heavy stuff indeed. I have to admit I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this book – but it was definitely an absorbing (and at times uplifting) read. This author can write, dealing with dire topics using a light and skilful touch ... Read more here.
Today we've asked the author four questions:
1. You’ve made the decision to stay incognito because of the work you do. Is it also because the idea or perhaps some people you’ve met in the line of your work are based on real (or a mash-up of) events and real people in your book?
The characters aren't based on anyone I've worked with, but I have worked with young people who have struggled with experiences similar to Sylvie, and want to keep a clear boundary between my professional work and the book.
The idea for the story came from working with many children and teenagers with high needs - whether it was mental health related, such as psychosis, or neuro-developmentally related, such as autism. I was interested in what it must be like to be the sibling of these people - some of them take on such adult roles, and some of them are kept very separate from the whole thing. I wondered how it would feel.
I would struggle with ethics if I was to base anything in the book on specific people I've worked with. Having said that, there are a couple of people in the book who are based on people in my personal life. When I was at school I had a "friend" just like Lorelei, for example!
2. What do you want young people to take from your story?
I'd like for young people to have a renewed sense of hope and faith in friendships, but also to reflect on how they expect to be treated by their peers, how they treat them in return, and how much they are willing to put up with. I'd also really like for them to have a little more confidence in asking for support if they need it. Being a teenager is hard, no matter what added stress they might be facing. It's important that young people feel they have a voice.
3. What was your journey to get this book published?
It's been quite a long process. It took about a year to write and my friend Laura read it and told me she knew of a new publishing company that was looking for manuscripts. I met with Mary and Paul from Makaro Press and gave them my manuscript. I never actually expected that they'd want to publish it!
After it was accepted for publication, a very long editing process began. I edited a lot of it while I was travelling in Europe, so it's quite a worldly manuscript.
4. Are you working on a new book and if so, can you tell us something about it?
I've just finished writing a collection of short stories - a kind of snapshot of a variety of different people's lives, examining their individual struggles.
I've also just started a historical fiction story which looks at a specific group of people and the alienation they suffer around wartime. I've always been interested in how people cope inside themselves, especially when it's dark.
On the flipside, I have another story that I'm always adding to when inspiration occurs... It's not dark, which is a nice change!
Comment below to go in the draw for a free book and bookmark.
Sylvie is on a blog tour! Check out these other blogs and dates for more reviews and interviews:Mon 14 March: beattiesbookblog.blogspot.com
Tues 15 March: kidsbooksnz.blogspot.co.nz
Wed 16 March: http://saradhakoirala.com
Thur 17 March: booksellersnz.wordpress.com
Fri 18 March: bestfriendsarebooks.com
Sat 19 March: msblairrecommends.blogspot.co.nz