One Night by Moonlight is a local animal story for children about an ocelot and a tayra, two animals found in the forests of Trinidad/Kairi. The two animals meet by a river and set off on an adventure that leads them to new experiences and breath-taking views.
It is Alisa Gomez’s first book, self-published October 2022. She told Catholic News children are drawn to animal stories and this one is a local story, with creatures found in our forests. Writing the story, she said, was the easy part; completing the book was “challenging”.
This month (November), she completed a second children’s animal tale about a fruit bat and an oilbird, Seba, Swept Away! Both publications are available online on Amazon.
One Night by Moonlight is available at Metropolitan Book Suppliers on Ariapita Avenue, Paper Based Book Shop in St Ann’s, and The Book Emporium in Couva. Seba, Swept Away! will be available locally before the end of November.
WRITER KAELANNE JORDAN INTERVIEWS GOMEZ:
CN: Why a children’s book? What do you love most about writing stories for children?
I have a five-year-old son and I have been reading to him since birth, classics like Wizard of Oz and The Secret Garden from my library and then discovering new stories like Tiger in my Soup and Dragon Masters. In addition to the published stories I read to him, he always asks for me to ‘tell’ him a story. I try to keep my stories local, except when I get requests for Spiderman and Hulk, so One Night by Moonlight was created during a bedtime telling.
CN: Where do you get your inspiration/ideas for stories and characters?
My inspiration is my son, and he helps me to generate ideas. The aim is to tell our story. There are lots of stories about bears, foxes, rabbits. I am compelled to write and tell stories that speak to us as inhabitants of Kairi/Trinidad.
CN: What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
I have read hundreds of books to my son since he was born. The stories combine in my head to help me understand the elements of a good story. More recently, my family read a Classic Animal Stories book that compiled stories about tigers and pythons and weasels from the 1800s! They were fantastic and I am trying to modernise the tone of those authors with the story I am crafting now.
CN: How many books have you written, and which is your favourite?
I have written two children’s books, to date, and a third is still being written. My favourite of the two completed ones, is Seba, Swept Away! It is the story of a fruit bat and an oilbird. It is a more complicated story than One Night by Moonlight, with a lot more cameo appearances from forest creatures beyond the two main characters. It is a progression from One Night by Moonlight.
CN: What topics do your stories cover and why are these important to you?
My stories feature local wildlife, the animals you rarely hear about or may know very little about. Have you ever heard of the tayra? The stories are set in Kairi/Trinidad. I choose these animals because our children need to know about our environment and about the fauna that live here. That is the story that they have very little opportunity to hear.
CN: What were you like as a kid? Did you read a lot? What kind of books did you read? Who were your favourite children’s authors?
I was a voracious reader for most of my life, except when school got in the way! I mostly remember Enid Blyton. She is a timeless author; her stories are enjoyed by my son today. I also kept one storybook through the decades, a picture book called Debbie’s Visit to the Countryside. The illustrations in that book are pure art. No one illustrates books with that level of detail and beauty anymore.
CN: Do you think children these days read enough?
I have actively cultivated a love of books in my son. Sadly, I do not know any other children who love books. I know there are children who do but I have not met them. Electronic devices are a major distraction and parents are also very busy. Children learn the mechanics of reading in school but not to love reading.
CN: Why do you think it’s important for children to develop a love of reading?
A love of reading is the most amazing gift that can be given to a child. Reading can expand your worldview, your knowledge base, your vocabulary. It is an opportunity to keep learning your entire life.
CN: What do you hope kids learn from your books?
I hope that they recognise that Trinidad and Tobago has a beauty of its own that we can be proud of. There are many stories that can be told of our land right here.
CN: What do you like to do when you are not writing?
When I am not writing, I enjoy experiencing the environment I write about: our forests, rivers, and beaches.
CN: Are you working on a new book at the moment? What can you tell us about it?
I am working on another animal story at this time. It starts in South America and then moves over to Trinidad. I see reflections of the immigrant’s life in it and hope that it can cast a compassionate light on the people who have to leave their home and start over.
CN: Where can we keep in touch with you and your work?
The books are a series in the making, Tales from Kairi, the name of our island before the arrival of European colonisers. I have a Facebook page called Tales from Kairi where you can follow the progress of the books.