I’ve been wanting to interview my co-author, Lauren Reyes-Grange.
But how do you do that when she is your daughter, as well as the person who inspired the first Myrtle the Purple Turtle book?
I decided to put on my professional interviewer’s hat — after all, I’d done thousands of interviews in my journalistic work. Here goes:
When did you first realize you loved to tell stories?
LRG: I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love to read stories, write stories or tell stories. I am fairly certain I was born with a wild imagination. Pair that with two parents who were superstar journalists (and naturally fantastic storytellers), and I think I was bound to catch the bug, too.
What was it like growing up in a house of storytellers and writers?
LRG: It was wonderful. I loved hearing stories about my parents’ work, about their day. My parents also encouraged my sister and me to read, be curious, stand up to injustice, and look for the humour in everyday things which I believe makes for great storytelling.
Do you remember any of the stories you first wrote?
LRG: Yes. One of the first stories I wrote was about a bird who, after overcoming some obstacles, learns how to fly.
A story your mother wrote for you when you were nearly five, was published many years later and became an immediate bestseller. What was that like for you?
LRG: Pretty emotional in all the best ways possible. Myrtle the Purple Turtle was a lifesaver for me when I was going through a tough time at school. Myrtle’s story made me feel proud, confident and strong. I feel very lucky that 28 years later we were able to share this gift with children who may need a reminder that they should be proud of what makes them different/unique.
You are now the co- author of the Myrtle series, and you are the one who comes up with the new story ideas. Where do your ideas come from?
LRG: After visiting numerous schools and speaking with children of all ages, it’s clear that messages of inclusion, kindness and friendship are still very much needed. This is what’s inspired us to continue writing more books and has made the ideation process relatively simple.
How did you react the first time you saw your name on a book cover?
LRG: Incredibly proud. I still can’t believe I’m an author. I also feel very fortunate that I get to collaborate with my mum on this. It’s made the entire experience even more meaningful for me.
Why are the messages in the Myrtle books so special to you – and what do you hope children will get from the books?
LRG: The messages in Myrtle’s books are how I was raised. I hope the Myrtle series inspires children to act with kindness, to make their peers feel included, to be a good friend and to embrace their own differences.
What are your hopes for the series?
LRG: I hope we continue writing books! At least 1-2 books every year for as long as there’s an audience who wants to read them. I would love to speak with even more children and continue to inspire young people to act with kindness and self-esteem.
Your own daughter is due to be born soon. Can we assume you will be reading the Myrtle books to her when she gets old enough?
LRG: Absolutely. I’ve already started reading the books to her, but she likely doesn’t know that yet. I hope she falls in love with Myrtle’s message and is as proud of me as I am of my mum.