• NZ Booklovers

Interview: Karen McMillan talks about Elastic Island Adventures: Rainbow Cove

Karen McMillan is the author of 15 books, published in 9 countries, a mixture of bestselling novels such as The Paris of the East and Brushstrokes of Memory, and award-winning non-fiction that uplifts and inspires like Everyday Strength: Recipes and Welling Tips for Cancer Patients. For the past year, she has turned her hand to the bestselling Elastic Island Adventure series for children.

Tell us a little about Elastic Island Adventures: Rainbow Cove.

Rainbow Cove is the third in the Elastic Island Adventures children’s book series for children aged 8 - 12. Kiri, Jed, and twins Emma and Ethan discover an ‘elastic’ island that sends them pinging across the ocean to a variety of destinations. When they visit Rainbow Cove, they discover creatures called frivals who are responsible for maintaining the colours of the island. But the frivals have gone on strike after the local people didn’t like them changing all the colours around – and now the island is slowly fading to grey. Because of this, the chameleons are in danger of dying, so the children set out to find the frivals missing leader in the hope of saving them. But will they succeed before it is too late?

What inspired you to write this book?

Milla, my husband’s 11-year-old granddaughter, has inspired this series of books. Milla is mad about books and has been asking me for years when I was going to write a children’s book. I started book one of the series, Jewel Lagoon, just as a fun family project to enjoy with her. I didn’t think it would even be published, so it’s amazing to be now onto the third published book in the series in less than a year, and extra exciting that the TV/film rights have been optioned.

What research was involved?

Each book features an unusual real-life creature. In book one it was a platypus, in book two a family of quokkas, and in this book three a family of chameleons. So Milla and I have spent timing researching the real-life animals before fictionalising them! The next book will have a wombat - so that will be fun!

What was your routine or process when writing this book?

No routine to speak of, just stolen moments of writing the book and liaising with Milla about ideas. It has been loads of fun writing Elastic Island Adventures, especially having Milla’s help. My husband has also been a big part of the process, and we have had lots of mad discussions about chameleons, frivals and our cat Blog, who appears as a recurring character in the series from book two.

If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name some songs you would include.

Definitely some tropical music to help set the scene, as in each book the children visit exciting tropical islands. And if a TV series gets made, a theme song written by Murray Grindlay has already been recorded, featuring singer Janayah.

If your book was made into a movie or TV series, who would you like to see playing the lead characters?

Funny you should ask, with the books being optioned for the screen, it could very well be a reality in the future. I’d love to see Josh Thomson (The Project, 7 Days, Gary of the Pacific) to play Mr Jollybowler – and Josh has already said he would be keen! I’d love to see four young actors playing each of the children. There are many talented children out there who would be great in the roles.

What did you enjoy the most about writing this novel?

Everything! It’s a fun family project with lots of laughter and love. But it’s also been lovely travelling to schools in New Zealand and Australia and seeing how excited children are about the Elastic Island Adventures series. There is something infectious about the children’s enthusiasm that adds another special element to the events I have been doing.

What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?

I’ve got lots of deadlines from my publisher, so I’ve celebrated the publication of book three of the series but starting on book four, Elastic Island Adventures: Alphabet Resort. The new book will feature a wedding and also a new character, Wombo the Wombat, a bachelor looking for love!

What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?

The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer is my favourite book so far this year. It’s a fascinating novel about Lee Miller, who was a Vogue model, photographer, war correspondent, and muse for the famous Surrealist artist Man Ray in Paris in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

What’s next on the agenda for you?

I will have a picture book out in September, Blong the Cat Goes Shopping, so that will be exciting to see my first picture book publish! It features Blong the Cat, from the main Elastic Island Adventures children’s series in a stand-alone book, and the publisher wants other picture books in the future. Blong goes shopping to buy a special outfit to wear to a wedding, but not everyone likes his choices! It is a story of costumes, numbers and dancing, all wrapped up in a bow of kindness.

Of course, I need to finish writing Elastic Island Adventures book four as well!