Today I have Cas Mestrom with me for an author interview. Cas wrote a book called Oki and Harlo fairytale friends.
A little bio:
My name is Cas Mesterom and I am a Dutch-born writer, poet, model and actor. Although Dutch is my native language, I prefer to write in English as I find the English language more poetic.Having said that, I did write the original of Oki and Harlo, fairytale friends in 1999 in Dutch, but translated it last year and wrote a new ending to the story. The original had a darker conclusion, as fairytales can be dark, but in the current world [of war], I wanted to write an uplifting story about friendship. Basically, why could a goat not be friends with a shooting star?
I wanted to create a world where children can safely go and learn about making friends, being honest and believing in dreams. As well as healthy eating and the real purpose of rainbows!
I write with a message but never preachy. My goal is to entertain and to hope that each one of us can take away something from my writings. As I learn from others, I hope to inspire other people as well. I believe we are all one. Oki and Harlo believe it!
I actually don't know how to answer this one. I love to connect with people and I love to learn
from people. And the more I am in connection the more I learn from them. And I guess the more I
learn the more that helps me in connecting with others through storytelling. But I don't know if I
ever realized that I wanted to be a writer. I actually don't label myself as a writer. I also act, model,
write poetry and theater plays and: I am being me. It makes writer just one of the labels, if that
makes any sense.
How long does it take you to write a book?
I can't give you a time table for writing. My inspiration comes in waves. I called it 'being tapped
in'. And when I am tapped in, writing can go really quick. The story then finds me. Oki and Harlo,
they found me and I wrote their story of connection and friendship.
What is your work schedule like when you are writing?
When tapped in I can go for hours. I get behind my laptop and just start writing. It feels like
translating inspiration into words on paper, well actually onto a computer screen. I prefer to write
at night, when the world is asleep. Peaceful. Quiet. It is almost as if I can hear the story talk to me
better when there isn't any worldly noise around to distract me.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Listening with my heart. To the story talking to me as inspiration. To people telling me their own
personal story their life and hearing the real emotion behind their words. So, yeah, I write with
Where do you get your information or ideas?
In connection. Always. And then the inspiration finds me. If I allow myself to tap into it.
What do you when you are not writing?
Work out, swim, go for a run. I talked about tapping into inspiration and one very effective way to
do this is by being physically active. And I believe that works for all of us. It brings focus and
steers your thoughts away from any daily worries. Call it a form of meditation. And it is mentally
healthy and obviously also physically good for you.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?
The most surprising was the fact that so many people are not impeccable with their word. What I
mean by that is that people say they will read your story or will help you build momentum around
it and then they do not. That was a lesson I learned and a fact that disappointed me. It can be a
a lonely route to have to go in order to get your story out.
Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What
impact have they had on your writing?
Dave Eggers is a favorite author of mine. Achack Deng, whose story Dave tells in his book – What
is the What? will never leave me. And Achack Deng is not a fictional character. Perseverance and
inspirations are Dave Eggers and Achack Deng. And another book that helped me to tap into the
story of Oki and Harlo and listen to their message, was 'The Little Prince'. Antoine de Saint-
Exupéry tells a beautiful and inspiring story of believing in the good. And I will add to that
'however you define what is ”good” for you'.
What do you think makes a good story?
A story that speaks to the reader's heart. It doesn't mean that every good story is a romantic story.
Pain and drama also lives in the heart. If a story speaks to the heart, a good story will bring the
heart relief in some form.
Does your book have a dedication and if so why?
Yes, it does. I believe that writing a story – or as I explained earlier, 'translating inspiration into
words' always happens in connection.
In getting the story of Oki and Harlo out into the world, two people were the foundation of the
process. Tvrtko Cvjetković, who is my confidant. He is the person who reads the inspiration that
comes to me first. That is a scary process to go through, but essential. And Tvrtko was the first
person to read Oki and Harlo.
Tamara B. Williams was the one who convinced me that Oki and Harlo need to go out into the
world. You must know that the original Oki and Harlo were put on paper in 1999 and they lived
in my desk drawer for 16 years. Last year, Tamara helped me and Oki and Harlo to come out and
show ourselves to the world.
This is why Oki and Harlo is for both them, Tvrtko and Tamara.
A little about Oki and Harlo:
Oki, a little-orphaned goat meets Harlo, a shooting star, who falls to earth and ends up in the field where Oki is asleep. They become instant best friends and together they go on a quest to find Oki's momma.
On their adventure, the little friends encounter wise old, Mr. Owl, Wobbly, the chicken, and a little girl named Ellie and her family.
Enter a world where children can safely go and learn about making friends, being honest, and believing in dreams, as well as healthy eating and the REAL purpose of rainbows!
"Oki and Harlo, fairytale friends" is the first ever draw freely e-book.
The story invites the readers to make their own illustrations. There are free-draw pages that have clear instructions on what to draw.
Readers can publish their drawings to share with the world by sending them [via direct message] to the -OkiandHarlo- official Instagram & Twitter account!
"Oki and Harlo, fairytale friends" is written for children aged 5 to 10 years, but is suitable for older children and adult kids too! It is a fun fairytale to read to your children and it is equally fun for children who are discovering the world of reading and imagination.