A Few Quick Questions With…Hagit Oron

Earlier, I posted a piece about Elphie and Dad go on an Epic Adventure by Hagit R. Oron and Or Oron. Hagit was nice enough to take part in a Q&A with me. I kept it short and sweet, because I’d rather she work on her next book than take too much time with me, y’know? Hagit gave some great answers, hope you enjoy this — and be sure to check out her books!

Good depictions of Fathers are pretty hard to come by, so I wanted to say thanks for that. What made you decide to tell as story about a Dad and his kid rather than the typical Mom?
Well, I love stories about fathers and sons. “Out Stealing Horses” by Per Petterson is one of my favorite books and it is truly an inspiration.

I was also inspired by the relationship between my Dad and his Dad. My grandpa was a strict uptight guy. As he grew older he left all that behind and became this soft mellow sweet person, somewhat like Elphie’s father at the end of the story.

By the way, the next book features Elphie’s Mom, but I guess she isn’t the typical picture book Mom as well. I like my characters to be different and unique.

Why elephants? Is there something deep going on — something symbolic maybe. Are they just fun to draw?
I was fortunate enough to view elephants in their natural habitat at Africa, and I fell in love with them. They are so complex. I mean, on one hand they are these huge heavy animals, but on the other hand they are delicate and sensitive. You expect to hear an elephant’s footsteps at the savanna, but you don’t hear a thing. They are so grace and walk very lightly. I knew I was going to write something about elephants after my visit to Africa, but I didn’t have anything concrete until I saw this episode of “the myth busters” a few years ago. They were trying to check if elephants are afraid of mice, (which was confirmed), and boom! I got the idea for the entire series of Elphie’s books.

My daughter, Or, who is the illustrator says that they are also fun to draw. J

Are you drawing on your own experiences for these stories? I see that Goodreads has this listed as the beginning of a series — how many do you have planned?
I guess a writer always writes about her own experience, one way or another. . .
There are currently 4 stories on Elphie’s books. All of them feature the same characters: Elphie, Dad or Mom, Elpie’s somewhat wild friend Phante, and Bravo – Elphie’s pet mouse which is introduced on the next book.

Each book tells a different story, which is told through Elphie’s eyes in first person.
These are all sweet little stories about a child daily experiences, but I do hope adults readers would enjoy them too. It’s like a kidlit with a wink.

Can you talk about your process a bit? What comes first — the words or the pictures? Is it more of a simultaneous thing?
I always start with the words. For some parts of the story it is a simultaneous. For this story, the pages about Elphie and his Dad return from the shop and fight a dragon, rescue a princess etc were simultaneous, because I wanted the illustrations to tell the story together with the words. So I wrote instructions for the illustrations as well.
In the writing of Elphie and Dad go on an Epic Adventure, what was the biggest surprise about the writing itself? Either, “I can’t believe X is so easy!” or “If I had known Y was going to be so hard, I’d have skipped this and watched more TV”.
The biggest surprise about this book was writing it. J

Usually, I plot a story in my head and I think about it for weeks before I write the first word, but this came out as a whole in one sitting completely unprepared.

“Elphie and Dad Go On an Epic Adventure” was actually the third book I wrote in this series. We were already working on illustrations for “Bravo Elphie”, but we liked this story so much and decided to make it our debut.

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