UMA & IMP BY LARISA VILLAR HAUSER
1) Please provide a short excerpt of what your children’s book is about
Since the mysterious death of her parents in Peru, Uma has lived with crazy Aunt Calista and her friend, an invisible imp with attitude.
When sinister strangers start asking questions about a Professor Harris, Uma finally has a chance to discover why Mum and Dad went to Peru. Sometimes helped, sometimes hindered by Imp, Uma begins a journey that leads to the uncovering of a family secret and takes her to a mystical Inca temple, where she discovers that her parents’ death is even more mysterious than imagined.
2) What inspired you to write this book?
Although the story is Uma’s, it all starts and ends with Imp. He appeared from nowhere, unannounced and fully formed. From the beginning, the book has been about Uma, Imp, and the story of Uma’s quest to find out what happened to her parents in Peru – everything else has shifted and changed but those features came out of the ether and stayed. Up until the time Imp popped up, I had been writing adult crime fiction but that all changed with this book. Having said all that, the basic inspiration or drive is a desire to understand death and loss.
3) How did you come up with the title or series of your book?
For a long time the book was called UMA, IMP & ODD THINGS, which came out of the fact that the story was about Uma, Imp and the strange things Uma couldn’t explain about herself. But the plot changed over time until the title no longer fitted. I then simply stuck with Uma & Imp because whatever else happens, the story is fundamentally about their relationship.
4) Why did you pick this genre?
It picked me! I’ve never particularly been into fantasy other than The Hobbit and C.S.Lewis. In fact, I didn’t think I was writing a fantasy adventure until a friend gently pointed out that imps don’t actually exist! My confusion stems from the fact that most of the story happens in the real world and because, in my mind – and his – Imp isn’t really an imp at all.
5) As a child, what books and/or authors influenced you the most and why?
As a child, my taste in books was quite prosaic. First off, I gobbled up fairy tales about goblins, giants and ogres, revelling in that delicious terror that is tempered by the knowledge that things will all turn out well in the end. Later I was BIG on Enid Blyton, especially the Adventure series and the boarding school books. The Naughtiest Girl was my favourite. I also read The Little Princess a gazillion times, and Thumbelina, the Witches Cat. A little older I got into the Hardy Boys, then Anne Frank. For me, reading was always about getting into other worlds and experiencing exciting adventures.
6) What is the most fulfilling thing about being an author?
Every stage has its own attraction! The excitement of a new idea; the thrill of writing a new chapter and seeing things come to life in unexpected ways; the satisfaction of finishing a revision that you know takes the story to another level. And, of course, the exhilaration of seeing a child get animated over your story – which has to be the most fulfilling out of all those fulfilling things.
7) What do you hope children will take away with them after reading your book?
I would like every child to connect with their inner imp! The book was always conceived as part of a series, and this theme is something that will be developed more as the story moves forward, but yes – listen to your inner imp!
8) Who is/are your favourite author/s as an adult and why?
George Elliot’s Middlemarch is one of my all time favourites because of her intense observation of human interaction. I love Milan Kundera’s The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, also Yann Martel’s The Life of Pi, for a spiritual, humanist view of life. Margaret Atwood, Amy Chan, Toni Morrison for drawing pictures of women’s varied experiences of life. The list could go on and on. I have quite an eclectic taste in fiction these days but the common threads are probably intensity of emotion or a humanist/spiriitual approach to life’s suffering.
9) What are you working on now?
You could say I’m between books, though the second book in the Uma & Imp series is brewing quietly away. The intention is to make notes and start planning in January. Watch this space.