Thank you to everyone who came to the virtual book launch for FIREFLY (March 2, 2021)! We had over 55 guests, and many wonderful questions from attendees after the main Q&A.
My most sincere thanks to kidlit blogger and author, Helen Kubiw, whose questions to me were so thoughtful and really teased out the main themes of the story.
Also thank you to Another Story Bookshop for handling book sales at the event, and Thunder Thighs Costumes (where the story is set), for supporting the launch. Thanks to Rosana Khabbaz for this beautiful collage of the book and my sister-in-law, whose costume shop inspired the story.
Here is the whole interview on Helen Kubiw's blog: Canlit for Little Canadians, FIREFLY interview with Philippa Dowding
Enjoy question seven from Helen and my answer below:
Q: One of my favourite characters is Aunt Gayle. She’s fierce but never heavy-handed. She’s open and protective, while giving Firefly both freedom and security. Your acknowledgement tells us Aunt Gayle is based on your sister-in-law. Is she based on her personality, her actions, or both?
PHILIPPA: Yes, the character of Aunt Gayle is inspired by my sister-in-law, who started her costume shop in Toronto’s east end in the late 1970s.
But this is a piece of fiction, so Aunt Gayle is inspired by my sister-in-law, not an exact copy of her, although people who have read the book and who knew her definitely see her personality there. And her costume shop is pretty exactly described in the book.
She was determined, successful, creative, energetic, she loved her family and friends with a fierce devotion. She was also a world champion knitter. We once took her to a baseball game at Rogers Stadium, and she sat and knit the whole time! We always had beautiful hand-knit scarves and hats and sweaters as gifts, which she whipped off for us. So, her devotion and loyalty to her family and friends, her talent as a costume designer, her smarts as a boss and business person, that’s really what I wanted to capture in the story. And her tireless knitting. I think that pretty much sums her up!"