Annika Perry is an award-winning author, blogger and book reviewer. She has two books in print and is working on a third. I asked Annika to be a guest for “A Better World of Books” after I learned about the release of her children’s book, Oskar’s Quest. Bette Stevens, a reviewer of the book, had this to say about it, “In this beautifully illustrated children’s book, author Annika Perry captures the importance of caring for others, overcoming fears and making new friends.”
Annika, thank you for being a guest for “A Better World of Books.” Can you tell our readers how you came up with the idea for Oskar’s Quest?
Alethea, I am delighted to be here and thank you so much for inviting me on to your blog. I’m loving your insightful questions and I have enjoyed reflecting over my books, writing and characters.
Initially, Oskar’s Quest was a story I told my son at bedtime many years ago. The story developed over several nights and it became one of his (and my) favourites. For a couple of years, I would tell him the story, embellishing certain elements, removing others. As my son started to read books himself at nighttime, Oskar’s Quest was nearly, but not quite forgotten. Upon the advice of my mother (eternal thanks for everything!), I wrote down the story to save it.
Last year I revisited Oskar’s Quest and after much rewriting and editing I crafted the book as it is today!
What a wonderful gift for your son. Can you tell us who Oskar is and how his “quest” begins?
Initially swept away by the thought of adventures, Oskar joins the other birds to look for dragons but he is overcome by fear and turns for home. In a tumultuous storm, he finds himself on a mysterious island in need of help. Much to his surprise, he volunteers to rescue Maya the golden songbird from the formidable clouds. So, his quest begins …
Sounds like he has quite the adventure ahead! Is Oskar, or any of your other fictional characters, inspired by someone you know? If so, can you tell us what drew you to use real-life characters as models for your fiction? Or, are they all completely made up?
Oskar is all of us! Within each of us resides fear and doubt. That voice, whether quiet and niggling, or loud and controlling! I wanted to portray these emotions through an animal and came up with the idea of Oskar. As Oskar finds his courage, I wanted to empower children to look within themselves to find their inner strength. I always believe we are much stronger than we ever imagine.
In my collection of short stories, The Storyteller Speaks, a couple of stories are loosely based on my grandparent’s lives. Their strength, honesty and love influenced me tremendously and I hope to do them proud in my own life and through my writings. Although both have passed away I feel their love and care around me, at times almost hearing their chuckles, as they comment upon our lives.
The majority of the characters in my writings are made-up, sometimes based around real-life events but the protagonists are creations of my imagination and it is pure magic to bring ‘life’ to these fictional beings.
I love that you aim to empower children through your words. I’m curious why you chose Oskar to be a bird, and not a human or mammal, or even a fish…Why a bird?
I have always been drawn to birds, their sense of freedom in their flight. Birds also symbolise so much which I hold dear; not only freedom, peace, and harmony, but also empowerment, purity, and elegance. These are all qualities I hoped to convey with Oskar whilst reflecting upon his indomitable spirit. We all need to remember we can rise above our adversities in life, in whatever form they may take.
Such wonderful symbolism! In your children’s book animals talk as well as plants. It makes for a delightful read while opening a child’s mind to wonderment. As a child, did you ever find yourself imaging that nature was talking to you? Or perhaps it did…
Alethea, my childhood books made a huge impact on me and I have always enjoyed ones with talking animals and plants. To me, it seemed normal and I absorbed the stories wholeheartedly! Alas, at no stage has any animal or plant talked to me … yet! Or perhaps they have, and I just failed to understand their language! I often had long ‘conversations’ with my guinea pigs and from their noisy squeaks, I imagined their exciting adventures!
That rather sounds like your guinea pigs were doing their best to converse with you. I wonder, what is your favorite character you have ever created, and why?
Oh, this is a tricky one, Alethea! Obviously, Oskar is one of my favourite characters and he will always have a special place in my heart.
In The Storyteller Speaks there are so many varied and wonderful characters, and for me one in particular stands out.
Karin in “The Whiteout Years” is portrayed through the eyes of her husband Carl. She is a person who lived life to the fullest, her spirit at times too large for this world. Outwardly tough, she was vulnerable, and Carl could see through her being to her inner core. Even in death, her love knows no bounds as she reaches out to save the life of Carl
It sounds like Karin is a force of great strength. If you, yourself, could change anything about the world, what would it be?
I would strive for the elimination of hatred through kindness and understanding. The force of hatred from so many in society feels overwhelming at times. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels as if they’re drowning in all the negativity and anger. The world is the most astonishing place, its very existence miraculous. What a damming indictment upon humankind that so much energy is directed towards evil instead of goodness, warmth, and love towards each other.
Unfortunately, I have begun to despair that much will change. However, I strongly believe in the ‘butterfly’ effect and that every positive action will ripple out into the world and have some significance even if in the minutest of forms.
I too believe that small, positive actions can change the world in unknown ways. Can you give us a hint at future writing projects? What can your readers expect next from you?
I never stop writing and I have a couple of bigger writing projects on the go which I hope to bring to publication this year! One is finishing my novel, Island Girl, which has been delayed as I worked on my other books. I look forward to returning full-time to the book, editing, rewriting, and polishing before it is fully ready.
Meanwhile, my love for short stories is unfettered and I’m currently working on a short story idea which intrigued me as it is based entirely on dialogue. It’s challenging and hugely enjoyable creating a fictional world through speech alone.
My notebooks, both paper and digital ones, are crammed full of ideas for stories, novels and children’s books … I can’t see myself ever stopping this writing lark!
That’s good news for your readers! If you wish to learn more about Annika and her writing, you can find her at:
Are you an author with a vision for a better world? Do you have a published book of poetry, fiction, or nonfiction that uplifts and empowers readers to create a more positive inner and outer environment? If so, I’d love to hear more about it. On a “Better World of Books,” I interview authors and review books of all genres that offer a vision for a better world. If you think your work is a part of this vision, please contact Alethea.