Again, when doing the research for my interview with Chris King, I came across Celise’s site. What I found interesting was the fact that Celise concentrated her writing efforts on the younger generation. I can’t remember another I’ve interviewed concentrating of this part of the community and so I decided to ask her if she would consent to an interview. She agreed, and without further ado, I have great pleasure in introducing to you, Celise Downs …
Aneeta: Celise, thank you for agreeing to this interview
Celise: Thanks for having me.
Aneeta: As always, I would like to start with you telling us a little bit about your background, your family, your life and where you live.
Celise: I was born, raised, and currently make my home in Phoenix, AZ. I have an older sister (two years and two days apart), a 12 yr old nephew and a 16 yr old niece. I share my home with my fiancé, Steven (we’re getting married Sept 9th of this year) and our “child”: a really talkative Tabby cat named SweetPea.
Aneeta: Congratulations! And I know exactly what you mean when you say the tabby cat’s your “child” for I have a pet dachshund and she’s spoilt to bits … by everyone! I wish you and Steven a very happy married life together. On your website, Gemini Mojo Press, you state that your mission statement is to support, engage and inspire the imagination of young adults. Do explain a little more about what this means and how you intend to carry out this mission.
Celise: Five to ten years down the line, I’d like to be a publisher for the specific age group that I write for: 13-18. There’s only one publisher out there I know of that does this, but the age groups starts a bit lower. I think this is a relatively knew area of publishing that I would like to explore. If there are aspiring young writers out there that have a dream of seeing their work published—whether it be a book of poems or a collection of short stories—I want to be a resource for them.
When I was young, I used to talk to myself. I used to have long, drawn-out one-sided conversations. No one ever answered back (grin), but I think having a vivid imagination helped me be the writer I am today. By the time I hit seventh grade, I knew I wanted to be a writer of novels. Not a journalist. Not a poet. A writer. All throughout high school, I had teachers that saw my talent, nurtured my talent, encouraged my talent. I want to do the same for others. I’m a mentor in an online program called the Little Owl Mentoring Program. (http://mentoring.absynthemuse.com). I’m paired with an aspiring young writer and mentor them for a period of time dictated by the mentee. It’s great. I’m doing what I love and sharing what I love to do with others.
The aspects of supporting, engaging and inspiring are feelings that I experience on a daily basis. This is a mission statement I believe in because I’m living it right now.
Aneeta: I also note that you have your own personal website: http://www.celisedowns.com . I’m sure that my readers will eventually hop over to your website. Nevertheless, please, do give me a brief description of this website and what’s on offer.
Celise: The site is a way to keep readers updated on what I’m doing, writing-wise. They can read excerpts from my current releases, shop at my online store, enter contests, sign up for my monthly newsletter, check out my blog, browse through my photo gallery and find out where I’m going to be next.
Aneeta: As you may know, this website targets storytellers from Asia and Africa. Now, what advice, in terms of getting work published in your part of the world, would you give to these Asian and African storytellers?
Celise: Do your homework because the research never stops. Traditional publishing isn’t your only choice.
Aneeta: Well, I think I’ve covered all I can. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Celise: Get your work professionally edited—one set of eyes never does the trick, surround yourself with a positive support base, perservere…and pop open a can of imagination. It’s never too late to be who you want to be.
Aneeta: Thank you.
Celise: It’s been fun!
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