Most Thursdays this year we will be interviewing one of the members of Christian Writers Downunder – to find out a little bit more about them and their writing/editing goals.
Today’s interview: Ester de Boer, Author and illustrator
Question 1: Tells us three things about who you are and where you come from.
I have always been creative and imaginative- I was drawing on every available surface from the moment I would grasp a crayon. And have always been a story teller. My parents were amazing story tellers, just able to make up stories on the spot. My siblings and I used to rewrite our favourite stories into plays or “radio” plays with sound effects, so stories were a big part of my childhood.
|One of my favourite pages in Raymund and the Fear Monster by Megan Higginson, which I illustrated.|
I didn’t take my creative side seriously until later in life, so have spent most of my life squeezing myself into uncomfortable and ill-suited roles. (I think there should be a way you can have a doctorate in unfinished courses of study- kind of a PHD of ADHD??? I’d be a well-lettered person by now!)
Question 2: Tell us about your writing (or editing/illustrating etc). What do you write and why?
I have three types of writing – my fantasy novel, which is a long-term project; my “no way I am going to show you this unless you’re my therapist” stuff (admit it- we all have some hidden somewhere!) and (I really don’t know how to categorise it) stuff I’ve written in response to a revelation by the holy spirit.
The fantasy novel is eccentric and darkly comical, while the Christian-based writing is (and I am surprised, as the thought of “inspirational writing” makes me want to poke my fingers down my throat) um… inspiring, uplifting, without a trace of my usually sardonic tone. I kind of wrangled with that for a while, but I realise that they’re simply two parts of myself- not my “Christian” self vs my “dark side”. I’d feel untrue if I only did one and not the other.
Question 3: Who has read your work?
I have had many hapless victims, cornered in my home or at a coffee shop, forced to listen as I read my work to them. I do this as shamelessly as any grandma with gigantic albums full of grandkid photos- it’s the best way to proof read (and yes, they have to sit through that as well).
In a more formal context, I have had three stories published so far in Stories of Life: “When Andy Met God”, “Three Dummies in a Dinghy” and “Under the Frangipani Tree”.
|Available at Koorong|
Who would you like to read it?
Anyone who would be encouraged or inspired by it, I suppose. I don’t try to write these. They’re responses to, sometimes, really painful or difficult situations or struggles, and the writing is the product of coming through them.
Question 4: Tell us something about your process. What challenges do you face? What helps you the most?
No matter what type of writing it is (and I mean this literally, whether it’s a fantasy novel or university essay) I always read it out loud. I do this over and over, to myself, to others… and sometimes I get others to read it back to me. I’m musical, and I put this in my writing. You can’t ignore rhythm, tempo, texture. I keep pruning and reshaping sentences to try to get the right flow.
If I am writing from God-given inspiration, I feel a sense of responsibility to communicate it truthfully and also to critique it theologically as well. I may be feeling sparkly rainbow fuzzies from a wonderful experience, but I may also be way off mark theologically. I won’t put pen to paper without prayer and the Bible to refer to, so it ends up being part of my worship “process” which is really beautiful- I revisit the memories, the revelation, the breakthrough, that first brought me to the experience- and the final writing becomes a solidifying of this in myself.
Question 5: What is your favourite Writing Craft Book and why?
Gosh, I don’t have one! I do, however, constantly read, and I’m not passive in that process. I have writers whose style I admire, like Salman Rushdie, who uses amazing alliteration or Paul Theroux (I took so long to read the Mosquito Coast because I kept rereading paragraphs just to hear them again). I think the best writing lesson is being a reader of good writing.
Question 7: What are your writing goals for this year? How will you achieve them?
I have drafted out another autobiographical short story which I now need to edit. I also plan to complete the current section of my novel (a tough process of helping my protagonist escape capture by rabbit crime gangs, ride a pirate rocketship through a gushing ringbridge, and battle two-headed parasitic birds that nest in the shells of aged, retired planets- phew!)
How will I achieve this? I think I need a few long plane or train trips! There’s nothing like the long, boring hours awaiting your destination surrounded by odd human specimens as wonderful character inspiration… I cannot write at home.
Question 8: How does your faith impact and shape your writing?
When I was a new Christian, I went into a creative void, as I found myself going from being a little free-spirited bohemian chick to trying to fit in in a subculture that was so restrictive and suspicious in regard to imagination and creativity (I am first a visual artist). I was constantly told that God would probably require me to give up my art, though I never received any logical explanation why. As I’ve grown more in my relationship with God, I have gained a healthier understanding of my giftings as God-given. It’s actually a big story in itself, but it’s affected how much I have come to sit comfortably in my own skin as an artist, writer and creative person, through the eyes of the creator, not church culture. If I didn’t have that understanding, I think I wouldn’t have sense of peace or freedom behind my work.
Ester de Boer grew up in Townsville, North Queensland and has gradually allowed gravity to pull her further down into the icy climes of Gippsland, Victoria. She is a creative writer, artist, children’s book illustrator, musician and all-round arty person. To support her art habit, Ester works as a special education teacher and on Sundays plays violin and sings in her church music team. You can view some of her illustration work at www.esterdeboerillustration.com