My earliest memories are centred around books. I remember being tucked into bed at night, lying next to my mother, as she read out loud from the stack of books she had borrowed from the local library. Those moments were pure magic, and I was hooked.
The passion and love I felt for reading as a young girl has been steadfast throughout my life; in times of both sorrow and of joy, I turn to books. They have consistently helped me understand and navigate the intricacies and complexities of this world. Without books, I would not be who I am today. Without books, I would be lost.
My passion for reading, as well as writing, later led me to get my bachelor’s degree in Journalism at the University of the Arts, London, and both my MA (University of Cyprus) and PhD (University of Durham, UK) in English Literature. Following my studies, I then taught English language and literature at various secondary schools in Cyprus. Throughout the years, I have also written numerous articles and stories for newspapers, journals, and my own blog (https://medium.com/@melinakarekla).
Ollie and the Rescue of the Hummingbird will be my first book and the idea for it was birthed many years ago when I bought my sister, Christina, a pair of socks decorated with the image of a cute looking owl wearing glasses. An idea popped out of nowhere into my head, after which, on a cold, winter’s day in late December, I sat down with Christina, who is an artist, and planned a rough outline for the story. We were a match made in heaven; here we were, two sisters, one who loved writing and one who was an artist, both with a lifelong passion for books. However, as is often the case, life has a way of getting in the way, so it ended up taking us a number of years of intermittent work before we were able to bring our project to fruition. Somehow though, no matter what we were doing or was going on in our lives, Ollie was always there in the background, a talisman in the dark, a book being slowly and patiently birthed out of deep love and faith.
Ollie and the Rescue of the Hummingbird is a fairy-tale like story for children that addresses ideas around loneliness and feeling like an outsider within one’s community. My hope is that readers will be able to emotionally connect with Ollie, a small, shy and bespectacled owl, who faces challenges and hardship, yet eventually gains a sense of self-worth and belonging.
It is important to me, as a writer, that I tell stories that make readers feel less alone and that help them reconnect to their inherent worthiness. In my work, I find myself drawn to exploring our human experience in a way that allows for deeper reflection, understanding and perhaps even acceptance and healing. I am always looking to books to create some meaning out of my own life, and I hope that my writing may be helpful to others in that way, too.