Emily Bastien is nine years old and working on her third book. Her first two books, collections of short stories about being brave and having faith, are being read by kids and parents around the US and beyond.
Question: You recently published your second book: The Fearless Fantabulous Five. What is this book about?
Answer: The Fearless Fantabulous Five was released in November 2018. It is a collection of five original short stories. The stories share a message of courage, hope, and faith. They remind us that God is always there, escaping fear is only a prayer away, and we should trust more.
Why should kids read your book?
Lots of kids are afraid of something. They should read Fearless Fantabulous Five because it will help them overcome their fears and learn how to have faith.
How did you get the ideas for your stories? Are they true stories or made up?
I usually have lots of stories in my head. Some stories pop into my imagination, like “Grape Seed.” It is about a young girl who just became a Christian, but was being made fun of by her friends because she did not know the Bible very well. Her dad told her a grape seed story, which gave her courage to not be ashamed of her relationship with God.
Other stories are true stories of things that happened to me, like “London Rescue.” This story was about me getting trapped in my great grandma’s bedroom during my visit to London this past summer. My great grandma had to call the fire department to rescue me. I was scared while locked in that room, but prayed until I was finally freed by the firemen.
Who drew the pictures for the book? Did you tell the artist what you wanted the pictures to look like?
Raman Bhardwaj was the illustrator for The Fearless Fantabulous Five. I shared the stories with him and asked him to create pictures that kids would really like. He made sketches and my mom and dad and I told him changes we wanted to see. He was great to work with and often made the changes very quickly.
Can you describe your writing process for us?
I write a story based on what’s in my head or real life experiences. I share the story with my mom and dad. They usually ask me questions, point out the sections that need more details, and have me correct any errors.
I make the changes, then sometimes share the story at church during children’s story time. If I get input from people at church, I do another draft of the story. Once it is in good shape, I add it to my pile of stories and start working on a new one.
Your first book, Aqua Tales, was published two years ago when you were only seven years old. What is that book about?
My first book, Aqua Tales, is a collection of short stories about kids solving problems and overcoming challenges. It helps kids find solutions for problems they face at home, school, and church. It also teaches the importance of love, trust, and honesty.
How did you decide what stories to put into Aqua Tales?
I started writing when I was six years old so I had many stories by the time I was ready to publish my first book. My parents told me to pick my ten favorite stories.
One of the stories called “Yawn the Fawn” was about dealing with a younger sibling who gets away with everything, which is not fair.
Another story, “Recycle Day,” was about some of the bad things that can happen to our friends and family when we do not take care of the environment.
My favorite story, “Victoria Gem,” was about an Egyptian princess who had to solve riddles to reach the top of the Gaza pyramid. She did it with the help of her brother.
Do you think your latest book is better, as it was written when you were older? Which do you like best?
I like Aqua Tales better, because it has more imagination in it.
Aqua Tales was self-published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. Was The Fearless Fantabulous Five also self-published in the same way? How did you decide to publish your books?
Yes, The Fearless Fantabulous Five was also self-published through Kindle Direct Publishing (previously CreateSpace).
We did not contact any traditional publishers. After writing my stories, I wanted to share them with kids right away to help them solve problems and encourage them to be fearless.
Are you a good speller? Do the stories just come out perfect or do you have to work on them a lot?
I have to work on them a lot. My mom and dad edit my books.
Do you have other editors?
Yes. I had a few editors for my latest book. First my mom and dad always review my stories. My principal, my local librarian, and one of my classmate’s mother who knows about publishing also edited my book. They all gave me pointers to help make my stories better.
How many people have bought your books?
I am not sure about the exact number, but I know a lot of people have bought books from my website and Amazon. I have also donated many copies of my books to schools and organizations like LUK, Watoto, and CiDrep SickKids Foundation, which help children.
Have you been surprised by your success?
I am not surprised at all, but I do not think about success. I focus on sharing my stories with others. I am really happy when kids and parents tell me they enjoy my books and that my stories helped them.
Do you have an idea for another book?
Yes. I am working on a new book, which will be the beginning of a series. It is about believing in your dreams 100% and never giving up. I hope to publish it by summer 2019.
Do you have a favorite book, or a book that has particularly inspired you?
I really like the book Wonder, about a kid called Auggie whose face is deformed, and faces big challenges at school. It has a lot of different kids’ points of view. I think the most interesting point of view is of one of the kids who is a bully and is not nice to Auggie. I liked learning about the bully's story and why he is being so mean.
Isn't it great how books can teach you empathy for other people! Would you like to write as a career?
I plan to keep writing because I love it so much. I want to also help other kids become authors so they can tell their own stories.
Is it hard to find time for your writing? What other activities are you involved in?
During the school year, it is very hard to find time to write. I am in the fourth grade and attend Whitinsville Christian School in Whitinsville, Worcester County, Massachusetts. I usually write after school and on weekends.
During the summer, I have lots of free time so I write every day.
I enjoy swimming, playing the piano, and being part of my school’s chapel committee. I am involved in my local Adventist church’s Adventurer’s Club. I also started a Writer’s Club which meets monthly and allows other kids to read different books plus write and share their stories.
You have also traveled as a motivational speaker, is that right? Who have you spoken to? What have you spoken about?
Yes. I have spoken at schools, churches, and conferences throughout the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean Islands. I have spoken to both kids and adults about my love of reading and writing. I encourage parents to support their kids’ dreams now and not wait until they are older. I tell kids not to be afraid to share their talents.
What do you want to do when you get older?
I plan to keep writing books and I also would like to produce movies when I grow up. Sometimes when a book describes characters, I want to know what they look like, and movies can help you to see that. Like seeing the movie Wonder, which was based on the book, helped me to understand what Auggie looked like. I believe that producing movies will make mine and other writers’ stories come alive.
Maybe your books could be turned into movies?
Maybe not movies, but maybe little shows. That would be great.
When I am older I will use the money from my books and these shows to build hotels for the homeless so they no longer have to sleep in the cold or on the streets.
What advice would you give to Spectrum readers?
I would tell them to follow their dreams no matter their age. If someone tells you “no” or that you are not good enough just keep praying and working hard at what you love. You will be great if you do not give up on your dreams.
Emily V. Bastien has appeared on television and radio programs, been featured in magazines and newspapers, and been interviewed for different podcasts about her writing. Her story “Fallen Robin” was published in the Primary Treasure magazine in May 2018.
Alita Byrd is interviews editor for Spectrum.
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