Author Interviews, Authors, Book Interviews, Lauren Reyes-Grange

Interview with Lauren Reyes-Grange

 

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. 

Blog Photo - Lauren headshot

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. 

Blog Photo - Lauren and Quentin and CR
Cynthia, Lauren at 5, and her beloved doll Quentin

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. 

Myrtle - Cover latest at 2MB

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.  

Myrtle - Cynthia and Lauren and Students

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. 

Book Cover on Amazon - Myrtles Game

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. 

Myrtle Makes a New Friend - Cover Front 3 Sept 2019

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.

Blog Photo - Lauren and Dan

 

A Good Home, Book Readers, Children's Books

Whenever I Need a Smile….

… I look at these faces! 

https://myrtlepurpleturtle.wordpress.com/fans-of-myrtle-2/

We look forward to meeting many more!

 

Acts of Friendship, New Book - Myrtle Makes a New Friend, Raising Children

At the Start of the School Year

Parents know how anxious children can be when school begins, and one of a child’s biggest worries is whether they will make friends. 

Lauren and I  heard this when we toured primary and nursery schools with our Myrtle the Purple Turtle books.  When we visit children from 3 to 11 years old, we don’t just read the books to them: we also listen to their experiences.

Some children told us about being left out. No one wanted to play with them, or “be friends”. Some were made fun of, or bullied by others. 

Of course, these things can happen at any time, not just in the first weeks of school. We also know that parents are looking out for their children, themselves anxious about how their child is faring each day.

But there is another thing parents (and other adults who care for children) can do:

Encourage or remind your children to be kind to others, and especially to children who seem to have no friends.

Just as they clearly recalled the painful times they were excluded, the  9, 10 and 11 year old children we met had uplifting stories. They had distinct memories of the  classmates who noticed they were excluded and reached out to them.

Some remembered being told they couldn’t join in a game, but also happily remembered the time they were included. And they cherished their memories of the classmates who simply asked “Do you want to be friends?”

Out in the community, we’ve even met adults in their 80’s who remember those incidents from early childhood.  Some today say they are still marked by those experiences of being excluded or being befriended.

Every child needs to be included and every child can be a friend to another.

The original Myrtle story was written for Lauren, after an incident at her school when she was almost five years old. But if you were to accompany us on a book tour in schools, you would understand why these issues are so present in our thoughts as we write every new book.

We are passionate about Myrtle’s messages of inclusion, kindness and self-esteem because we see the great need for them — and we see it often.

To order, or learn more about the Myrtle books, please visit: https://myrtlepurpleturtle.wordpress.com/

We are also grateful for this award recognizing Myrtle’s relevance to schools:

 

Myrtle - Purple Dragonfly Book Award

 

 

 

 

A Good Home, French books for Children, Myrtle The Purple Turtle, Vertu la tortue violette

My New Baby

Babies of all kinds are being born these days.

Here’s one of mine.

Born “Myrtle”, reborn with a new name — “Vertu”, in French — she arrived recently.

Blog Photo - Vertu cover

Huge thanks to Jean Long and Jessica Charnock, who translated the book from English, then diligently proofread the book in its draft form.

Blog Photo - Jean and Jessica

To do the translation, Jean took a big break from designing and building new birdhouses.

Blog Photo - Rustic birdhouse with red roof

Jessica, meanwhile, took a break from the acclaimed Myrtle the Purple Turtle wall hanging she was creating at the time.

Blog Photo - Myrtle Rug 2

Thanks to Clif Graves, who formatted the book patiently and well.  With Clif’s help, the book is also distributed by IngramSpark, making it easier for the bookstores, libraries, schools and other organizations who usually order my books.

As always, thanks to illustrator Jo Robinson, who created the original images.

I’m grateful to my co-author Lauren Reyes-Grange (of Myrtle’s Game and subsequent Myrtle the Purple Turtle books) whose brilliance allows me to shine. 

I’m indebted — yes, that’s a great word, ’cause he invested in me! — to my husband for his love, support and commonsense.  He and our entire family continue to help me with everything I undertake.

They all make for a remarkably diverse crew of midwives and family members. Two French-Canadians; two Jamaican-Canadians; one American from Maine; one South African, and a bunch of Canadians.

I’m also dedicating this post to Carol S, a Canadian who has become a  super agent for the Myrtle books. 

Thank you all for loving Myrtle! Err… Vertu!