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There’s a new world of fun on the bookstore shelves with the uber- creative Felicity Williams having just had her first novel published – a nine-year journey, eight drafts, more if you count the subsets; frustration, lightbulb or ‘chandelier moments’, but in the end, she’s pleased.

“It’s the culmination; the best of everything I’ve done.”

Ringlet and the Day the Oceans Stopped is a fantasy middle grade novel perfect for the tweens in your life – those aged 8 to 13.

A young mergirl has to save the oceans from a deadly stagnation and something ancient and dangerous will stop at nothing to prevent her.

It’s classic mythic territory, set in the merworlds, but with a contemporary twist. It’s a story about restlessness, racing against time – it’s a quest with all the sorts of things children encounter. But Felicity has ensured it is a fun read, ‘I’d run a mile in bare feet from pedalling any kind of moralistic pedagogy. If I’ve done a good job, children will be able to make the connections easily.’

For Felicity, the journey started with securing a QE2 Arts Council national residency in 1988, working with young people in the creative arts.

“I found that deeply satisfying. C.S Lewis said that those who chose to write children’s stories, do so because ‘a children’s story is the best art-form for something you have to say’.”

Working with children is also an art form, Felicity says. She knows this because she’s been doing it for a long time. ‘There’s a joyfulness, a spontaneity about it.’

Felicity currently runs Canvas Bag Drama School in Christchurch. It gives her, she says ‘the ability to tiptoe into the world of the child’ – a powerful and necessary thing for a children’s novelist.

“Stories are important. They help us make emotional connections. Emotions are what make us fully human and expressive.”

Ringlet and the Day the Oceans Stopped is available from all good booksellers and from The Cuba Press’ website – an independent publisher based in Wellington.


Joshua Brosnahan