Eileen Mueller lives in a cave on the side of a hill in New Zealand with four dragonets and a shape-shifter. Awarded a 2016 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Youth Novel with Dragons Realm – A You Say Which Way adventure, she writes for children and young adults.
She was placed first in SpecFicNZ’s Going Global and first equal in NZSA NorthWrite Collaboration literary contests in 2013. Eileen co-edited The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales and was a sub-editor on the Sir Julius Vogel Best Collected Work, Lost in the Museum. A New Zealander of the Year Local Hero and marketing consultant, she managed Wellington’s 2014 & 2015 Storylines children’s literary festivals–having fun with authors, illustrators and thousands of kids.
1. What inspired your At the Edge story, “Call of the Sea”?
Thirteen years ago, I lost a child when he suddenly died at two years old. He was the healthy half of our premature twins—his sister had been battling with illness since birth. She’d been well for three short months, and I’d finally been able to leave the house and enjoy life with them and their older brother.
Our world was shattered. Luckily, I still had two small kids. They made me face each day with courage—but it took fourteen months before I laughed again.
I was at the gym one day, right on Wellington’s waterfront, in the middle of a storm. Waves were surging over the promenade, smashing into the boatsheds. The floating jetties were roller-coasting in the surf. I knew I had a story to tell—of love, loss insanity, grief and triumph.
My story, “Call of the Sea”, in At the Edge, explores how people lose their sense of identity when they lose a child. In order to survive, we need to be nurtured. Kendra, estranged from her cheating ex-husband, doesn’t get this support. As her life disintegrates, she journeys to the edge of insanity. Or is she sane? Maybe the rest of the world just can’t see what she does.
2. What appealed to you about this project?
I worked with Lee Murray and Dan Rabarts on Baby Teeth, (an Australian Shadows Award best edited work) and knew they were an amazing editing team, so I wanted to be part of this anthology.
3. What do you love about short stories?
Start late and leave early is a must for short stories. I love the opportunity to paint a vignette that resonates with readers long after the story has ended. Short projects are a refreshing change from writing novels, which immerse me for months. I usually write fun middle grade fantasy adventures and young adult novels, so short stories give me a chance to explore deeper, more difficult emotions.
4. Can you remember the first thing you ever read that made you want to write?
I’ve enjoyed writing and reading ever since I was young. I wonder what my first picture book was—that must’ve been my inspiration for writing!
5. What’s next for you?
I’m currently a judge in a Dragon Limerick Contest closing on June 30 2016, which is open to writers of all ages–kids, teens and adults. The result will be Clawsome Dragon Limericks—an eBook for kids, although I suspect a few adults will enjoy dragon limericks too.
After winning Best Youth Novel with Dragons Realm in the 2016 Sir Julius Vogel Awards, The Fairytale Factory has asked me to write more interactive fiction for kids for their You Say Which Way series. I’ve just sent them Mystic Portal, a mountain biking adventure that takes you through portals to meet ogres, talking camels and chatterbox turtles. They’ve also requested a follow up, Mystic Portal 2, so I’m about to start that.
My young adult dragon rider series Riders of Fire is currently under revision, with Ezaara (book 1) to be completed by the end of the year. I also have a young adult paranormal urban fantasy under submission, so it’s a busy time for me. Anyone who likes YA and kids’ fiction is welcome to download free books from my site and have adventures with me.
You can find Eileen’s Amazon page here.