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    Revealing the Magic of William Brambleberry: An Interview with Author, Geneviève Hopkins

    Military Voice
    Posted by Military Voice on Apr 10, 2024 12:25:31 PM

    Geneviève Hopkins is a storyteller whose roots extend across diverse cultures and landscapes. With ancestry tracing back to the British Isles, Norway, France, French Canada, and colonial Australia, her unusual upbringing was enriched by diverse experiences. These shaped a deep connection and profound curiosity about the world, inspiring her passion for storytelling. 

    Residing in Ngunnawal Country just outside of the nation's capital, Canberra, on the edge of a lovely country town, Geneviève finds joy in her family life and spending time in her garden and the natural world. Continuously learning about everything, she is dedicated to finding magic in little moments and weaving enchantment into the world with stories, art, food, and seasonal celebrations. 

    Geneviève Hopkins has enjoyed a diverse professional career in project management, spanning the international development, health, and criminology sectors. Additionally, her experience includes working as a nurse in operating rooms. 


    Inspiring Young Minds with the Brambleberry Farm Series 

    In the Tales from Brambleberry Farm series, Geneviève Hopkins' first book, "The Adventures of William Brambleberry: Aviator Mouse," initially self-published, has now reached its third edition through publication by The Military Shop. Since its first edition, the Brambleberry Farm series has been impacting young minds in profound ways. Through the enchanting tales of William Brambleberry and his adventurous friends, children are transported to a world where bravery, friendship, and imagination reign supreme. These stories not only entertain but also instil valuable life lessons, encouraging children to embrace their unique talents, overcome challenges, and believe in themselves. Following its success, the second instalment, "The Extraordinary Tale of Nancy: Spy Mouse," has been both written and illustrated, eagerly awaiting publication. 


    Celebrating the Spirit of 453 Squadron through Storytelling 

    While pursuing her professional endeavours, Geneviève's passion for storytelling led her to self-publish her first book, "The Adventures of William Brambleberry: Aviator Mouse," in 2015. This captivating tale has quietly garnered success over the years. Now, with the invaluable support of The Military Shop, Geneviève's story of the brave aviator mouse and the courageous men of 453 Squadron will reach an even wider audience through its third edition publication. 

    In addition to her literary pursuits, Geneviève is the creator and writer for Wheel & Cross, a digital publication dedicated to exploring the interplay of history, culture, folktales, and seasonal traditions from Europe with the natural rhythm of the seasons in the Southern Hemisphere. Through her writing, Geneviève continues to weave together stories that captivate and inspire readers across diverse landscapes and cultures. 



    Join us as we explore the journey of The Brambleberry Farm to discover the fascinating insights shared by the author herself. 


    What's your favourite childhood book, and why?  

    As a child, I was a precocious reader, drawn to fairytales for their captivating witches and mysterious quests. In my pre-teens, I delved into politically complex fantasy and sci-fi, with Watership Down by Richard Adams becoming a favourite as well as the Dune series by Frank Herbert. Growing older, my reading shifted to political and scientific topics until rediscovering the magic of fiction through my children. Now, I enjoy collecting fairytales, folktales, and beautifully illustrated children's books. 

    If you could have dinner with any fictional character, who would it be and why?  

    It has to be Baba Yaga, the fearsome witch from Slavic folklore, who resides in a house with chicken legs, surrounded by a fence of children's bones. Some depict her as a cannibal, while others see her as a mercurial character, known to help as much as harm. Politeness and respect toward her and nature are essential for her assistance. Despite her ferocity, Baba Yaga would make fascinating company, brimming with knowledge and wisdom—if one minds their manners.  

    What inspired you to become a writer, particularly in the genre of children's literature and folklore?  

    I mentioned before that I loved reading fiction, especially folktales, fairytales, fantasy and sci-fi as a child but by the time I was an adult, I only read non-fiction books, political, scientific, and academic articles, historical fiction etc. Once I had my children, I was able to revisit the magic of fiction and the joys of the imaginary or ‘other’ world. Through the eyes of my children, I became reenchanted with children’s books, fairytales, and folktales, and with the natural world around me. 

    Can you share a memorable experience or encounter that significantly influenced your creative journey as an author?  

    Reading to my own children reignited my love for storytelling and creativity. As a child, I lived in a world where there was magic in rocks, I made friends with all sorts of creatures (real and imaginary) and the mundane was filled with enchantment. Now I pass that magic to my children through stories, traditions, and shared adventures. I cherish cultivating their sense of wonder and fostering a love for learning and exploration.   

    How do you develop your characters and plotlines in The Adventures of William Brambleberry?  

    In 2012, while nursing my firstborn, I conceived the idea of a courageous mouse who dreamed of flying a spitfire. Named William after my child, the concept of 'Tales from Brambleberry Farm’ unfolded. My husband, then deployed with the RAAF, and my love of military history inspired the storyline. In 2013, I began writing and searched for a WWII spitfire pilot or squadron in Cornwall, where William lived. Serendipitously, 453 Squadron aligned with my storyline. It is wonderful to know that Australia’s WWII spitfire squadron, 453 Squadron and its men, have been memorialised alongside my little Aviator mouse. 


    What's the most challenging aspect of writing The Adventures of William Brambleberry: Aviator Mouse and how did you overcome it?  

    Writing a story about a mouse flying a spitfire is simple, but integrating military history while engaging young readers and respecting the past is complex. Delving into Australian War Memorial records led me to 453 Squadron, a WWII spitfire squadron stationed in Cornwall. From there, I found squadron members, like pilots Douglas Andrews DFC, Clarence Alfred Seeney, and Rodney Lyall, who were included in the book. I scoured flight logs and records, researched spitfire mechanics and studied air combat operations to enrich the narrative. Sharing my research on the Very Brambleberry website, I aimed to educate as well as entertain. The challenging task of bringing the characters to life was became a joyful experience with illustrator Alexandra Heazlewood.  Our collaboration extended to second book in the series, ‘The Extraordinary Tale of Nancy: Spy Mouse, which is yet to be published.  


    Looking back on your writing career, what have been some of the most rewarding moments or accomplishments?  

    Exploring my mouse character's journey and researching historical events added depth to my children's stories. Collaborating with illustrator Alex and graphic designers to craft a cohesive visual story and identity was fulfilling. Connecting with 453 Squadron families and sharing their stories has been a cherished privilege. The positive impact of my books on families is rewarding. Self-publishing and navigating book sales, alongside running a business, were challenging but gratifying endeavours. Working with the Military Shop, from customer to publisher, has been exceptional due to their expertise and passion. None of this would have been possible without the unwavering support of my husband and the inspiration of my children. 


    What advice would you give to aspiring writers, especially those interested in writing for children or exploring folklore and mythology? 

    Read what inspires you, refine your stories, and know your audience and genre. Network and learn about the industry by joining relevant writing groups like Society for Childrens’ Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Girl and Duck, or the Australian Fairytale Society, local folktale groups etc. Recognise the importance of illustrators in children's books. Prepare for the journey to publication, explore various publishing options, and persevere. Consider online platforms like Substack for sharing your writing journey, or simply and most importantly, keep writing for the love of it.  


     We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Geneviève Hopkins for sharing her inspiring journey with us. To delve deeper into the enchanting world of Brambleberry Farm, explore The Adventures of William Brambleberry and know more about Geneviève's captivating works now. Happy reading! 


     Brambleberry boxed set



    Topics: Air Force, Aviator Mouse

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