Featured Interview With Maxine Sylvester
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
I was born in London, England. I loved art as a child and I took private lessons with an amazing teacher called Pearl Lee. She had a mountain of Disney magazines and I would do huge paintings of the characters for my nephews and nieces.
In my teens, I developed a passion for travel. I abandoned art and worked as a holiday representative in Greece, Turkey and Cyprus. I then worked onboard cruise ships where I met my partner, Mark. Although I loved the exotic ports, I found my work unfulfilling. Mark accepted a job in Moscow so we left the ships and I returned to my first love – art!
I enrolled in the College of Cartoon Art and was mentored by British cartoonist/caricaturist Steve Chadburn. I then completed further studies in children’s book illustration with illustrator, Jan Nesbitt. After stints in Palestine and Armenia, Mark and I finally settled in Bali, Indonesia, where Mark became a partner in a Scuba Diving school, and I wrote my first children’s book.
We have no pets, but plenty of cockerels and dogs in the street to keep us company!
At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
My earliest memory is of a giant book of Disney Fairy Tales. I loved the brightly coloured illustrations; I think that’s where my love of art began. My first reading books were Winnie the Pooh and Paddington Bear. As I grew up I read anything by Enid Blyton, The Famous Five and Secret Seven books. I also loved The Railway Children by E. Nesbitt.
I started writing three years ago. I wanted a reason to illustrate so decided to write a short story about a character I had developed, a young reindeer called Ronaldo. I had no idea that I had such an imagination because once I started writing, I couldn’t stop. The book went from a picture book to a full-blown chapter book. I can honestly say I love writing as much as illustrating and enjoy flitting between the two.
I am now working on a colour version of my first book, Ronaldo: The Reindeer Flying Academy. A few reviewers mentioned they would have preferred colour illustrations, so I thought a colour edition would be perfect for Christmas. I aim to publish the book at the beginning of November.
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read. Who Inspires you in your writings?
I read all sorts! I loved the Harry Potter books; they were like picking up old friends. I have so much respect for J.K. Rowling. The whole world waited with baited breath for her books and she never disappointed.
I also love a good thriller. I’ve read all of Sidney Sheldon’s books and most of Lee Childs, Jack Reacher series. If ever I feel anxious or wracked with self-doubt, I read Dr Wayne Dyer. His gentle words always encourage me. I think he’s a must for anyone in this industry!
Walt Disney has always been my biggest inspiration. I am a total Disney geek and get as excited as a five-year-old whenever a new Disney film comes out. I have just finished a book on Walt Disney. What a visionary! I think my stories come from a lifetime of watching Disney movies.
Tell us a little about your latest book?
I have just published, Ronaldo: Rudí’s Birthday Extravaganza. It’s the third book in the Ronaldo the Flying Reindeer series. It’s perfect for children aged 6-10 years and available from Amazon.com.
I had so much fun writing it. There is flying, magic and a lot of laughs. I think children (and parents) are going to find the story really funny and love the illustrations – there are 85 including the cover illustration!
Ronaldo and Rudi are beside themselves with excitement: Monty the Moose, the most incredible Magician in the whole world is performing at Rudi’s birthday party!
But before the festivities begin, there’s the important matter of The Reindeer Flyover, an ancient tradition of The Reindeer Flying Academy that marks the end of school term. But Rudi might not be able to fly. He has injured his hoof and refuses to see Doctor Kloppen. Rudi is terrified of needles and, rumour has it, the Doctor’s needle is the size of a rocket!
Meanwhile, Ronaldo meets celebrity baker, Mrs Sorensson, and offers to deliver her cakes to ‘Carrot’s ‘N’ Cakes’ bakery before flying school. The weather is hot so Ronaldo rushes through the forest so he can deliver the cakes before the icing melts. But, trouble is lurking in the woods. Dasher and his menacing brothers, Comet and Prancer, are hiding in the bushes. Waiting for Ronaldo!
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