Our Friend is Here! Latinx Heritage Month – An Interview with Natalia Sylvester, Author of Running; On Writing Vulnerability and Growth and Latinx Familial Dynamics

Our Friend is Here! Latinx Heritage Month - An Interview with Natalia Sylvester, Author of Running; On Writing Vulnerability and Growth and Latinx Familial Dynamics. Illustration of Xiaolong the axolotl, gesturing widely to Natalia as an alpaca wearing a wavy hoodie.

Our Friend is Hereis a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.

Our Friend is Here: Latinx Heritage Month Edition is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where between September 15th and October 15th, Latinx authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being Latinx and Latinx books. Find the introduction post for Latinx Heritage Month at The Quiet Pond here.

Have you ever read a book where, within the first few chapters, you knew that it’d be your new favourite book? That was how I felt when I read Running by Natalia Sylvester. I was blown away and amazed by how tightly all the different themes and ideas of the book were interwoven – and that’s why I knew that I absolutely had to invite Natalia Sylvester to the Pond so I could discuss with her how awesome and thoughtful her book was and her thought processes behind writing Running!

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Our Friend is Here! An Interview with Remy Lai, Author of Fly on the Wall – On Turning Personal Stories into Comforts and Portraying Love in Families

remy lai fly on the wall author interview the quiet pond

Our Friend is Hereis a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.

One of the reasons why 2019 was such an exceptional reading year was because I had the privilege of reading Remy’s debut book, Pie in the Sky – a book that has my entire heart for its heartfelt portrayal of baking, family, and grief, its charming illustrations, and super fun story. Pie in the Sky was a book that made my year; it’s a book that has come to mean so much to me. Therefore, you can imagine how excited I am that Fly on the Wall, Remy’s second book, is releasing next week! 

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Our Friend is Here! An Interview with Reimena Yee, Author of Séance Tea Party; On Making Comics, Ghosts, & Growing Up

Our Friend is Here! An Interview with Reimena Yee, Author of Séance Tea Party; On Making Comics, Ghosts, & Growing Up. Illustration of Sprout the sparrow, wings out wide and showing off Reimena Yee as a own wearing a flower and skull crown.
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Sprout is stargazing tonight when you visit the Pond.

You find them lying on the grass, a tiny bird in a field of green, looking up at the sky. Their eyes brighten as they see you approach.

“Oh, hello friend! You made it today!” Sprout sits up and smiles at you. “I’m so glad you’re here. We’re expecting a very exciting guest today, and I’d love for you to meet them!”

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At the mention of a guest, a soft breeze picks up — gentle at first, and then stronger. As the leaves rustle, from beyond the canopy of trees overhead, you hear the flapping of wings. A sooty owl emerges, starry as the night. A wreath of orange roses adorns their head, with a few skulls peeking through the flower crown. The owl flies down to join you and Sprout on the grass.

“Right on time!” Sprout exclaims happily. “Friend, this is Reimena! She’s here to talk to us about her newest book that’s coming out next week.”

Sprout hops closer, and confides in a quieter voice, “Xiaolong told me that she cried for a whole morning reading it!”

You chuckle, and sit down on the grass next to Sprout. Curiously, you also ask them about their stargazing while waiting for you.

“Oh! Yes, I was stargazing.” Sprout says sheepishly. “The book that we’re talking about today is about what it means to grow up, and I was thinking about when I was a fledgeling before I came to the Pond. But that’s a story for another time. Let’s welcome our guest!”

I love comics. I think they’re a brilliant storytelling format, and I’m always so eager to devour graphic novels in a way I rarely am with more prose-heavy stories. They’re such an accessible medium to return to over and over again — I’d honestly argue that a lot of my own formative reading experience was shaped by warm, sticky afternoons spent cramming down local comic serials by the bundle. I’m sure comics have led many more people to reading too, just like it did for tiny 7-year-old me.

And friends, Reimena’s comics are incredible. I’ve known about Reimena’s books since she first published The Carpet Merchant of Konstantiniyya through a partially crowdfunded platform, and I’m constantly awed by all the incredible stories she tells through her art. Her comics are smart, heartfelt, and filled to bursting with lush and evocative imagery. It’s such a delight and honor to have her at the Pond today, and I’m so excited to share this conversation I had with her about her upcoming middle-grade release Séance Tea Party next week!

Are you ready for a little ghost story?

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Our Friend is Here! An Interview with Kay Solo, Author of Ghost Walk; On Her Latest Book ‘Moon and Flame’, Hope, Disability, and Identity

kay solo author the quiet pond ghost walk moon and flame

Our Friend is Hereis a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.

Friends, I am delighted to share this author interview with you all today! Kay Solo, our friend that is visiting us at the Pond today, has been a long-time friend and supporter of my first ever book blog and, now, The Quiet Pond. So, when she reached out and wanted to visit the Pond to share her upcoming book, Moon and Flame (prequel to Ghost Walk, a supernatural story with pirates and ghosts and two girls who try and save the world), I was delighted by the opportunity to share her newest book with you all!

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Our Friend is Here! An Interview with Hanna Alkaf, Author of The Girl and the Ghost; On Writing Friendship, Malaysian Childhoods, & Being True to Your Stories

the girl and the ghost hanna alkaf author interview malaysian friendship childhood the quiet pond

The stars are bright in the sky tonight as you lie down on the grass, the Pond around you restful and serene. It’s been a long day, and you nearly fall asleep in the lull of the surrounding cricketsong, but just as you begin to drift off, the ground beneath you moves with a faint tremor.

And then—a smell. It is light and sweet, a whisper of fragrance blooming against the fresh grass.

An illustration of Hanna Alkaf as a teal elephant, wearing glasses and wearing a hijab.From the nearby bushes emerges Sprout, their little sapling glowing faintly verdant, and a familiar friend that you’ve seen before: it’s Hanna the elephant!

Hanna raises her trunk in a cheerful greeting, and you wave hello back. You remember Hanna from when she visited the Pond for her YA historical novel The Weight of Our Sky, and she’s back! Her hijab looks a little different from last time too, and you can’t help but admire the lovely streaks of green that now adorn the headscarf.

Sprout hops with excitement, “Hanna is here to talk about her new book, friend! Both Xiaolong and I have read it already, and we both really love it! Would you like to join us?”

You begin to nod yes, but then remember the sweet smell from before. You ask Sprout if they smell it too, and their eyes light up. “Oh yes! I picked some frangipani along the way here!” They hold up a handful of small, white flowers. “Did you know, friend, that frangipanis are associated with spirits and ghosts in Malaysia? Hanna’s new book is all about Malaysian spirits too!

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You smile as you sit down with Sprout and Hanna: ghosts are certainly fitting for a nighttime story!

It’s no secret that we here at the Pond absolutely adore Hanna’s stories, and her most recent middle-grade fantasy The Girl and the Ghost definitely lived up to all my expectations and more! I absolutely devoured the book, and friend, I cannot express how positively heartwarming to see my own Malaysian childhood and upbringing reflected in the pages of Suraya’s story. It felt like coming home.

So if you’re in the mood for a creepy, lushly-written tale about friendship and growing up set in a tiny kampung where a girl encounters an inherited ghost that changes her life, this is absolutely the book for you. We’re so honored today to have Hanna here at the Pond to talk about her story and her craft, and what it means to be true to who you’re writing for.

But before that, let me formally tell you what the book is all about too!

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