Thank you, Eleni, for your time and for sharing a bit about yourself & your writing. The very best of luck for your next piece and I hope we’ll get to read it soon 🙂
Dark Chocolate or Milk Chocolate? Both, it depends if I’m trying to be good or not.
Coffee or Tea? Coffee followed by herbal tea.
Dog-ear or whatever else as bookmark? I often use a picture my kids drew as bookmarks
Plot or Character? Both, I can’t differentiate. The plot makes the character makes the plot…
HEA or unexpected twist? Can you have both?
Q: Could you please share with us a little bit about yourself and how you became a writer? Was there a particular book you loved as a child or how did you love of words translate to writing?
A: Even before I could read or write I made up stories for my little sister. As soon as I learnt to write I began filling notebooks.
I was the kid the adults looked at and said, ‘Wow, you’ve got an imagination, don’t you?’ The world just seemed magical.
I attribute this to growing up in Greece where stories about Greek Mythology were spoken like facts. My grandfather would answer my many, many questions sincerely so that, like Father Christmas in the west, I had to learn that the Greek Gods were not actually real.
In terms of books I loved as a tween/teen: anything by Judy Blume, Virginia Andrews and Anne Rice. I was also quite affected by Go Ask Alice.
The first time I wrote something just for the hell of it and not because a teacher told me to, I was about ten. I remember the idea coming to me and the odd sensation of thinking, ‘I should write this down’.
I got a piece of paper and pen and closed my bedroom door. An idea thumped demanding that I write it down. It felt like something special was happening.
Q: Was there a lot of research involved in writing Stone Girl? I understand that whilst the characters & story are fictional, you were writing from personal experience as someone who experienced homes as a teen. What was it that inspired you to make the choice you did that led to where you are now?
Stone Girl was influenced by the homes I lived in as a teenager, the people I met and the vantage point I had on society. It was a story that followed me around long after I tried to forget it. I felt compelled to write it. It wouldn’t leave me alone.
To be honest I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to say about that life. It took me a few hundred thousand words to find my way.
But from the start what felt important was that the book should demonstrate how and why things can go wrong for some teenagers and that we shouldn’t give up or judge them harshly.
Q: It wasn’t an easy book to read, Eleni, but it is a very important one. The public needs to know but who exactly do you hope to reach with this message? What do you wish others to take away from your book? And your children?
A: When I got myself out of that world and went to university and landed a great job as a journalist I was suddenly someone with a voice. This is the very opposite of the hundreds, if not thousands, of kids who live just like Sophie in Australia right now.
It bothered me that their/my story wasn’t being told. I read a few whitewashed stories about foster care and I found those difficult and insulting to read. So I did my best to tell it as honestly as I could.
I don’t have all the answers about how to fix the situation but I think understanding and empathy are a good start. Knowing how the system works is half the battle because most people don’t realise this is how kids actually live.
In my wildest dreams I imagine I can be part of the beginning of change where as a society we discuss how we can better serve the most vulnerable kids in our society; those without parents.
Do I want my kids to read Stone Girl? Yes, one day. They are only aged two and four so I’ll wait a decade or so. It depends on their personalities.
I would rather educate than shelter because they are going to learn about the world one way or another. Why shouldn’t it be through books? This is a cautionary tale and the world is full of dangers.
Also, I think seeing how a personality can transform the way Sophie does (which is at the heart of what the book is about) is an interesting subject for teens.
Q: How would you suggest the public to respond? What’s the best way to approach these kids? I think, in the book, that nurse on the train was possibly the best example?
A: The nurse is lovely isn’t she 🙂 I hope Stone Girl shows how kids end up in trouble and people might not judge as quickly. Treat everyone with respect because that can make a huge difference.
Q: What are your top reads for 2018 to date? And which book are you desperately waiting for publication?
A: I am currently ‘reading’ The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (audio book) and freaking loving it!
I’m reading ‘The Centre of My Everything’ by Allayne Webster which is BRILLIANT!
I can’t wait to read Hayley Lawrence’s ‘Inside the Tiger’ which sounds incredible! Very gritty and tough, something I love.
Q: What are you working on now? Or what can we look for from you next?
I am currently writing an adult book which is kind of the sequel to Stone Girl with Sophie as the protagonist but quite different. No one will guess what happens next.
About the author
Eleni Hale was a reporter at the Herald Sun, a communications strategist for the union movement and has written for many print and online news publications. Her short story fig was published as part of the ABC’s In their branches project and she has received three Varuna awards. She lives in Melbourne, and is currently working on her second book. Stone Girl is her first novel.