December 17, 2012

Christmas Interview with Author Aleesah Darlison

2012 has been a big year for my next children's author and guest blogger, Aleesah Darlison. 

Aleesah shares her Christmas memories and traditions, highlights of 2012, and how she plans to celebrate this festive season with her family and friends. 

Tell us about your favourite Christmas memory?

For me, kids really make Christmas so any Christmas I’ve spent with my gorgeous husband and our three kids rates as the best.
Which book would you recommend people read this Christmas?
One of mine, perhaps? Unicorn Riders is fantastic for girls aged 7 - 10 years who like fantasy adventures with a twist/surprise ending. There are six books to choose in that series so everyone’s a winner. 

And Little Good Wolf with its gorgeous red Christmas-y cover suits the festive season right down to the ground. Perfect for boys who like a laugh and are learning to read independently.

How are you celebrating this year?
We’ll stay at home, probably getting up at the crack of dawn to open presents then share the day together. My kids are aged 9, 8 and 5 so they’re super excited about Christmas. Thankfully, I’ve done all my Christmas shopping, so I’m in a good place right now.

What’s the best and worst present you’ve ever received?
Best present: anything my husband gives me is usually lovely. He’s got a knack for buying me gifts. He’s actually incredibly good at picking clothes for me, but don’t tell him I said that.
Worst present: my dad is a serial thong (the footwear, not the underwear!) and bath towel giver. Although both do come in handy, it would be nice to vary the theme now and then.

What does Christmas mean to you?
Family. Fun. Food.
What’s your favourite Christmas story?
I quite like Arthur Christmas, which was an animated movie released last year. I liked how the creators modernised the concepts behind Christmas.

Have you got any hints for Santa?
Books make great presents and they’re easy to wrap!

Do you have a special message for Christmas and the New Year?
I feel like a highway cop saying this, but seriously: slow down. We all live life far too quickly and don’t appreciate the world around us. We all try to fit too much into our day. We all drive far too fast. Especially at this time of year. So, yep, definitely slow down in everything we do and make the most of each day.

How did you celebrate Christmas as a child?
We’d get up very early to go to church. We lived in a tiny country village and our minister had to travel from parish to parish during the day and we were always first cab of the rank. The church was a small, white, weatherboard building with the most beautiful stained glass windows, red carpet and stained-timber pews. It was a very spiritual and special place and I still remember it clearly. Then we’d come home, open our Santa and family presents and have breakfast. We’d then usually have lunch and spend the afternoon with our larger family at my grandmother’s house, which was just down the road. Sounds idyllic, but there were often arguments! There are some strong personalities in my family.

Do you have a family Christmas tradition? Tell us about it.
Not really, we just love being together on Christmas Day then usually go away for a holiday several days afterwards. This year, I made my very first gingerbread house and I was rather impressed (and surprised!) with the outcome. Perhaps I’ll have to make that a tradition. Oh, the other thing is that our Christmas tree goes up on 1 December and comes down on 31 December and we always take the kids out to see the Christmas lights at night. 
Have you celebrated Christmas in another country?
Not yet, but I’d love to have a white Christmas.

What will you be reading over Christmas?
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. I won it at the SCBWI Christmas party last week and I’m looking forward to reading it. Christmas holidays is about the only time I’ll have to do so!

What are you looking forward to about Christmas?
Not having to work, being able to sleep in (if the kids let me!) and having my husband around for a while.
Tell us about your year of writing, book launches, school visits, etc.
2012 has been a huge year for me. I’m exhausted from all the work I’ve done but elated at the opportunities I’ve been offered and the successes I’ve achieved.
I’ve released five books, travelled to Hong Kong for school visits, toured Perth, Sydney, Adelaide, Moree, the Manning Valley, the Hunter Valley and oodles of other places conducting school visits and author talks and writing workshops. I’ve been a guest speaker at several festivals and launched the fourth book in my Totally Twins series, ‘Birthday Bonanza’ at the Sutherland Shire Writers Festival. 

I’ve also written two books in my Unicorn Riders series, Books 7 and 8, due for release June 2013. I’ve had a new fantasy series accepted by Walker Books, the first instalment of which will be released in September 2013. I’m currently (eagerly!) waiting to see the draft illustrations for a picture book called Little Meerkat, to be published by Wombat Books and illustrated by Shannon Melville. 

I was a National Year of Reading Ambassador for Taree City Libraries and I created and edited an anthology project which featured local children’s short stories and poems. The anthology was called ‘We Are Now We Are The Future’ and was launched on 7 December at Taree Library to a large crowd.
I’ve had an awesome time during 2012 and have been supported by my loving family, my publishers and the media every step of the way. I only hope 2013 will be as enjoyable as this year has been!

What’s on your Christmas menu?
Seafood and chocolate pudding.

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