Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Lucky Seven Interview, with Elyse Kishimoto

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Elyse Kishimoto

Elyse Kishimoto got her start writing a travel blog, Traveling the World with a Backpack, but the travel she's concerned with now is of a very different kind. Her first novel, written with co-author and illustrator Doug Feaver, is The Dining and Social Club for Time Travellers: Divine Intervention (Green Jelly Bean Press).

The young adult novel tells the story of Louisa Sparks, who finds a mysterious timepiece in the pocket of her grandfather's coat, stumbling upon the ability to travel through time — and falling in with a strange brotherhood of fellow time travellers.

Today we're speaking to Elyse about Divine Intervention, the first instalment in what is planned as a multi-book series dealing with the Dining and Social Club for Time Travellers.

Elyse tells us about how her teaching background led her to writing for young readers, the question of fate vs. destiny that Louisa explores and how she and Doug tackle the co-author relationship during difficult points in the writing process.


Tell us about your new book.

Elyse Kishimoto:

Divine Intervention is the first installation in the young adult series, The Dining and Social Club for Time Travellers. The young protagonist, Louisa Sparks, is reeling from the tragic and sudden death of her parents, when she discovers an unusual timepiece in the pocket of her grandfather’s old coat. With the click of a button, Louisa discovers that she can travel through time. She is invited to join the strange fraternity of The Dining and Social Club for Time Travellers, where she learns that with her timepiece, she can alter the past to save her parents from their fatal accident.

However, the villainous Belthazzar is hunting the members of the Time Travellers Club so that he alone will possess the power to alter the past and control the future. The club is relying on their newest member, Louisa, to save them — and the world — from falling under Belthazzar's command. When Louisa loses her timepiece, it seems like all hope is lost — until the most unlikely leap of faith teaches her that even the smallest things can give rise to strikingly great consequences.

Much of my passion for writing The Dining and Social Club For Time Travellers, has come from teaching children. My favourite part of the teaching day was reading to the kids and discussing the big ideas and morals of stories. I truly believe that stories are the key to unlocking children’s imagination and creativity.

While teaching in an elementary school, some of my most standout memories came when I would take my students on “virtual field trips.” I would always ask the kids where they wanted to go. They would be so interested in the landmarks, history and geography of the world. Those were great ‘teachable’ moments. That is why I wanted to write a book that could take kids on an adventure to another time and place in the world.

After leaving the teaching profession to travel around the world for six months, Doug Feaver and I began brainstorming ideas for this book. We then began writing the first draft, and the rest is history.


Is there a question that is central to your book, thematically? And if so, did you know the question when you started writing or did it emerge from the writing process?


The question that is central to the book is: Is our fate decided for us, or do we control our destiny?

The debate of freewill vs. determinism is a central theme in Divine Intervention. This question emerged from the writing process and explores how and if the trajectory of our lives can be changed by altering past events.


Did the book change significantly from when you first starting working on it to the final version? How long did the project take from start to finish?


The project took over a year to complete. The first draft was similar to the finished product, but working with three professional editors gave the book the polish and professionalism that we were looking for.


What do you need in order to write — in terms of space, food, rituals, writing instruments?


In order to write I need an open mind, a good dose of adventure, great conversation and an ever-changing perspective. In terms of tangible necessities, I need a clean counter, a laptop, lots of coffee and a gym nearby.


What do you do if you're feeling discouraged during the writing process? Do you have a method of coping with the difficult points in your projects?


The writing process is full of ups and downs. To cope with difficulties, Doug and I take long walks to discuss the story. Getting outside helps to clear the mind. Talking things out allows us to come up with ideas and solutions to our problems. We try to encourage each other’s strengths, so that the writing as a whole benefits from the best of both of us.


What defines a great book, in your opinion? Tell us about one or two books you consider to be truly great books.


A great book will keep you up all night, inspire you, teach you something new and transport you to another place or time. The characters don’t always have to be relatable, but the story must touch on something personal, believable and thought provoking.

Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is one of my favourite novels. Wilde is a true wordsmith and creates vivid and compelling characters. The dialogue is clever, witty and eloquent, and often remarks on the most interesting facets of politics, society and human nature. It is rare to find modern literature with the same level of craftsmanship.

I also love Roald Dahl. You can always expect the unexpected in his books. Sometimes very bad things happen to the characters like when the children are eaten by giants in the BFG, or turned into mice in The Witches. But, the stories are always fun, whimsical and captivating and they are even better when read aloud.


What are you working on now?


Currently, Doug and I are planning research trips to South America and Europe. We are going to begin writing the second book of the series in this next year.

Elyse Kishimot graduated from The University of Toronto with a double major in politics and philosophy and a minor in English literature. She also earned a Master’s Degree in the Science of Education and has been an elementary teacher in Toronto since 2009. Elyse travelled around the world, writing a popular travel blog during the experience.

Author and Illustrator Doug Feaver graduated from Queen's University where he studied History and English Literature. A lifelong entrepreneur, Doug founded Podium Developments in 2004. He recently stepped down from his position as Director to travel the world and pursue his passion for writing and illustrating.

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