THE RISE OF AGNIL BY SUSAN NAVAS
1) Please provide a short excerpt of what your children’s book is about.
I come from a multicultural family. My father’s parents were Polish Jews and my mother is Spanish. I always felt I was stuck between both of these cultures, living in Britain at the same time and never seemed to fit in any ‘pigeonhole’. Agnil, the main character of the books is a fantasy reflection of that.
The second book in the series, Agnil and the Wizard’s Orb, picks up on the theme and finds Agnil, the half-elf, being bullied at school because of her slightly pointy ears – a visible sign of her difference from ordinary people. The book explores racism, apartheid and persecution. Yes, all through a story about elves.
So what happens when an ordinary ten-year-old girl finds out she’s a half-elf? Sliding between worlds, Agnil rescues the elves from many dangers, but can she fulfil the most difficult quest of all – to bring her parents back together?
Agnil’s Worlds is a fantasy adventure series aimed at children aged 7-10 years.
2) What inspired you to write this book?
Until recently I was a primary school teacher. The past couple of years I was teaching in Year 4 (8-9 years) and one of the units of literacy work was about stories set in imaginary worlds. The genre didn’t just spark the children’s imaginations but mine too! While I was teaching, I wrote a short story alongside the children and this is what formed the basis for the first book in the series.
3) How did you come up with the title or series of your book?
In my original story, the girl was called Aggie but I wanted her to have an elf name too. The name Agnil just popped into my head. The first book is called The Rise of Agnil because it marks the awakening of her self-awareness and powers as a half-elf.
4) Why did you pick this genre?
I suppose I picked fantasy as a genre because I’ve always loved fantasy and time travel stories so it was a genre I felt comfortable with.
5) As a child, what books and/or authors influenced you the most and why?
I loved the CS Lewis Narnia books as a child and was very disappointed when I got to the end of them. I wanted them to go on forever! I was also very fond of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. So much so that I wanted to change my name to Alice!
6) What is the most fulfilling thing about being an author?
Knowing that children are enjoying stories that I’ve written is a great reward, and if as a by-product of that I can make them aware of issues that are close to my heart, I will be even more thrilled.
7) What do you hope children will take away with them after reading your book?
That any individual can make a difference in the world and feel empowered by speaking up. I am a great admirer of Malala Yousafzai as a powerful example of this.
8) Who is/are your favourite author/s as an adult and why?
I have several authors whose work I enjoy reading across a variety of genres. In the fantasy genre I particularly enjoyed reading Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy. I was impressed that he could write books for young people which could speak so strongly as to upset the Vatican!
9) What are you working on now?
I am currently writing the fourth book in the series, called Agnil and the Centaur’s Secret.