[Edited for content]
Lynette L. Alli was born in British Guyana (now Guyana), South America. She is a graduate of the Guyana Teachers’ College, specializing in Infant/Childhood Education.
She started writing children’s stories fourteen years ago and so far, has published six of them.
Her first two books were published in 2014. My Grandmother’s Basket is based on family values of love, respect, trust and happiness. A Message From Allan was written to help children who are victims of bullying. In 2016 she published her third book: Seven Little Words in a Journal, about mistakes children make and the impact on their childhood and later years. Her fourth book: A Gift of Love and Honesty, published in 2018 is a sequel to Seven Little Words, and deals with the thinking and observations of a small child who helped her brother and an elderly man. She followed this up the same year with her fifth book: Note Cards for Everyone from Tiny Hands, about children in a hospital playroom, writing little notes that convey meaningful messages expressing their thoughts. In 2019 she published her sixth book Smart Little Me which deals with the readiness of infants and toddlers to identify themselves.
Lynette continues to write children’s stories.
Lynette, thanks for taking the time to do this interview for my readers.
Q. You’ve written ten children stories, so far, and published six. What is it that drives you to get these stories out? What is your motivation?
A. My children’s stories all have a moral behind them and they attempt to teach about life. My Motivation: to teach and prepare children for the lessons they will need as they stroll through the rocky road that is called life.
Q. You’ve said that a very early age, you were exposed to one of your father’s treasured books—Thomas Nelson’s “The Royal Reader” and your father read stories and recited poems, presumably from that series of books. Did you have a favourite story or stories in that book? Please share the reason behind your enthusiasm for these.
A. My two favourite stories were: The Pet Goat and Tell the Truth. When I was a little girl, we had a goat called Margaret. This first story taught me to be kind to animals and people. Tell the Truth is about a little boy named George who, while he was taught to make an excuse for the wrongs he did, felt that he should always tell the truth. This story was a great example for me and my siblings to always tell the truth.
Q. The Preface to the Nelson Reader states that “the book is designed to interest young people and induce them to read…for the pleasure of the thing.” Do you think your books have accomplished this? If so, how?
A. I believe my books do accomplish this since they are designed to interest a wide audience—children, parents, grandparents, care givers and others, and they all convey different messages that make my books timeless. They teach about morality and deliver lessons which will help children become responsible adults and guide them through life with a sound foundation to deal with grownup problems.
Q. Were you a precocious reader? At what age did you start to write?
A. As a child I scripted stories in my mind, something like writing on imaginary paper. If that describes precociousness, then I suppose I was. Those stories remained with me and when they were later transferred on paper they became the essential elements for the books I’ve written so far.
Q. Tell us what authors have influenced the books you have written so far and how?
A. Authors that have influenced my books: 1) Mark Twain, The Prince and the Pauper. The young child who became a prince never forgot the lessons he learned when he was a Pauper. 2) Louisa May Alcott’s, Little Women. Four sisters, who were different in many ways but shared their pain and happiness when growing up. Reading these authors made me realize that children learn through direct experiences and can overcome suffering with trust, respect, kindness and love. They are universal themes and they never change.
Q. Your first book My Grandmother’s Basket, was written in 2014,. Did writing get any faster and easier subsequent to that? Please explain.
A. After My Grandmother’s Basket, my writing did not get faster, but it became easier to write. My time frame for writing is based on the contents and the storyline which can vary from story to story. My writing style is the same, but it got easier.
Q. How long did it take you to write My Grandmother’s Basket and how long to get it published?
A. I took about three weeks to write My Grandmother’s Basket, and it was published many years later.
Q. Of all the books you’ve written so far, Is there a favourite? Why is that a favourite?
A. My favourite book is, My Grandmother’s Basket. As a child I used to look out with anticipation for my grandmother every morning although she only visited once every month. She usually came on the morning train and she would always have a basket of goodies. I was very happy to have hugs and kisses from my Grandmother, and the goodies were secondary. Part of this story was written on imaginary paper, when I was a young child.
Q. What was the most difficult of the ten books to write? Please explain.
A. The most difficult book was, A message from Allan. It was painful to write about my vicarious experiences with bullying which occurs daily in real life, and is a universal problem. In keeping with that, this book is to inform little ones not to be afraid and to confide in an adult if they are being bullied, something that results in physical and emotional pain if they don’t. The objective of this book is to help children who are victims, and at the same time, children who inflict hurt on others.
Q. What period of your life do you think has influenced your writing most of all—child, teenager, young adult, adult? Can you expand and tell us more.
A. As a child, I sat and gazed around me and then crafted stories in my mind. Those stories were about children, trees, birds and frogs. I suppose you can say, then, that my childhood influenced my writing most of all.
Q. What kind of research did you do for your children’s books and how much time does it take? What are your sources, typically?
A. I researched child development—the growth and behaviour of children, and this helped to revive the memories I had stored away about connected lectures when I attended Teachers College in Guyana. My sources for research are David G. Myers, Psychology and Albert Bandura’s, Social Learning Theory. Of course, my observation of children and people always play an important part in my writing. Add to that, my teaching experiences and my imagination.
Q. How important is the design of the cover and illustrations inside, for a children’s book? Please explain why.
A. The design of the cover is important because it connects the title of the book with the message behind the story, all of which makes the reader eager to pick it up the book and want to know more about it. The illustrations inside are also critical since they make my story interesting and appealing, especially to young minds.
Q. What is the most difficult part of YOUR artistic process in completing the cycle for one of your children’s books?
A. I would have to say that the most difficult part of the process in my artistic cycle is the creation of characters that are necessary in conveying the message in my book, along with the design of objects that will complement that message in a meaningful way.
Q. Have you ever read any children’s (or other) books that made you cry? If so, which?
A. Yes, Christoph Von Schmid, A Basket of Flowers. A girl was being punished for telling the truth and this had a profound effect on me and influenced my writing enormously, since I knew by experience, how children are impacted by this.
Q. What do you consider the mark of success for a writer of children’s stories? How does she know she’s been successful?
A. Success is an individual thing; I view success as achieving my goal.
But I think the mark of success for a writer of children’s stories is her ability to entice children to read and listen to her stories, and most of all, to feel the impact of the message behind the story, and acting on that message.
Q. What’s the most difficult stumbling block for you in writing books for children?
A. The conclusion. There is never an end when lessons are given to children. I really feel there is always more to add.
Q. Is writing for children cathartic in any way for you? If so, how and why?
A. Sometimes, depending on the story, emotions can be a factor.
Q. Is there a central theme in all your children’s books? What is the common message to the reader?
A. The central theme in all my children’s books is, “All children are beautiful, and words that they hear and learn are displayed in their voices, thoughts and hearts.”
Q. If you were to pass on one particular piece of advice to an upcoming writer of books for children, or other books, what would it be?
A. I believe in aspiring to do what you want to do, and work towards achieving your goal. My advice to upcoming writers of books is to believe in yourself, focus and follow through. If you fail the first time, think of the failure as a learning experience. Never give up on what you aspire to do or be.
Q. What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?
OTHER: website: http://www.childrenstimelessbooks.com