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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Our Friend is Here! Pride Month Edition – An Interview with Alechia Dow, Author of The Sound of Stars; On Writing Hope and Resistance and Demisexual Representation

Our Friend is Here! Pride Month Edition - An Interview with Alechia Dow, Author of The Sound of Stars; On Writing Hope and Resistance and Demisexual Representation. An illustration of Xiaolong the axolotl, with her arms spread out wide like she is showing off someone, with Alechia as a purple bear wearing glasses and holding a chocolate donut.

An illustration of Xiaolong the axolotl, waving her hand and winking at you while holding up a flag with the inclusive Pride flag - horizontal stripes of black, brown, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. 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.

Pride Month is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where during the month of June, queer authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being queer, queer books, and their experiences of being a queer reader. Find the introduction post for Pride Month at The Quiet Pond here.

When I was younger and learning about what it meant to be queer, one of my earliest labels – and the only label I feel any real connection to – was ‘demisexual’. Growing up and as a teen, I struggled to connect and understand how my friends talked and felt about romance and attraction. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realised that I was demisexual and also gray-ace.
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Our Friend is Here! Pride Month Edition – An Interview with Michelle Kan, Author of the Tales of the Thread Series; On Writing Aromantic Stories, Chinese Fairytales, and Subverting Popular Tropes

Our Friend is Here! Pride Month Edition - An Interview with Michelle Kan, Author of the Tales of the Thread Series; On Writing Aromantic Stories, Chinese Fairytales, and Subverting Popular Tropes. An illustration of Xiaolong the axolotl, with her arms spread out wide like she is showing off someone, with Michelle as a welcome swallow with a scroll attached to their leg.

An illustration of Xiaolong the axolotl, waving her hand and winking at you while holding up a flag with the inclusive Pride flag - horizontal stripes of black, brown, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. 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.

Pride Month is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where during the month of June, queer authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being queer, queer books, and their experiences of being a queer reader. Find the introduction post for Pride Month at The Quiet Pond here.

All of you know how much I love queer stories. In particular, I love stories that take classic stories or common tropes and subvert them with a queer retelling. I love the idea that beloved stories and tropes can be told in a new way – from a fresher perspective, new lens, and introduce readers to a new kind of home.
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Our Friend is Here! Pride Month Edition – An Interview with Kacen Callender, Author of Felix Ever After; On Writing Themself Into Stories and Telling Stories That Empower Trans and Enby Teens

Our Friend is Here! Pride Month Edition.  An Interview with Kacen Callender, Author of Felix Ever After; On Writing Themselves Into Stories and Telling Stories That Empower Trans and Enby Teens An illustration of Xiaolong the axolotl, with her arms spread out wide like she is showing off someone, with  Kacen as a wolf, wearing a bowtie and winking at you.

An illustration of Xiaolong the axolotl, waving her hand and winking at you while holding up a flag with the inclusive Pride flag - horizontal stripes of black, brown, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. 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.

Pride Month is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where during the month of June, queer authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being queer, queer books, and their experiences of being a queer reader. Find the introduction post for Pride Month at The Quiet Pond here.

I think one of the best parts about reading is reading about characters that you come to love and care for be happy. Sure, I know we love a good story that makes us cry and ache and feel pain and stories about pain are valid, but I think more space can be made for stories that makes us feel good because a character feels good and finds and experiences joy. For me, one of the best parts of reading – and also one of the most important parts of reading for me – is reading about marginalised characters who find joy, especially Black queer characters.
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