Author and mother of two, Inês Oliveira is based in Aveiro, where Calvin And The Sugar Apples is set. Inês told The Portugal News that the story is based on the death of their family chinchilla called Calvin who they had for 21 years. Inês shared that her children were affected by the loss and she noticed that her children had difficulty expressing their feelings, especially following the pandemic.
Inês kindly shares a short synopsis of the story “Amelia is a ten-year-old who feels empowered by controlling what she tells others. It’s hard for her to talk about her emotions, and she sees no point. She feels different with Calvin, her 21-year-old, long-tailed chinchilla. Calvin has always provided Amelia with a non-judgmental, listening ear to talk things out. But now, Calvin is gone, and she has no one to talk to about arguing with her closest friend and missing the school’s talent show. What will she do? According to Amelia’s parents, Calvin is in a “better place,” which means he’s dead. Amelia refuses to accept the inevitable and has no one to talk to about her loss until she meets Iris, a new friend from school.”
Ines explained “The inspiration for actually writing this book was our chinchilla, Calvin who died at 21 years old, a few years ago. My husband and I got Calvin before we lived together and he was a huge part of our lives. I wanted to write about how hard it is for children to speak about things because I felt that with my own children, especially after the lockdown and then I realised how hard it was for them to express their feelings after Calvin died. I hope this book will get children talking about how they actually feel.”
Living in Aveiro
Inês explained that she graduated in Aveiro, which is where her parents moved to when she was a baby. “I really like living in Aveiro, it is on the coastline between Coimbra and Porto and it is south of Porto, so it is about 1 hour and a half from Porto. It is really close to the beach and it is a city which is called the Venice of Portugal because we have the river going through the city and we have the canal.”
Adding, “We can walk the city easily but it has a university so it is quite populated with students and we have a lot of tourists visiting here. I really like living in this city because it is not a big city and we don’t have a lot of traffic here. I find it an inspiring place to write and my book has references to the city of Aveiro and the school that the protagonist, Amelia is going to is based on the school my own children went to.”
Discovering a passion for writing
Following her degree, Inês went on to do her Masters at Carnegie Mellon University in America where she graduated in Software Engineering with a Master of Science in Information Networking. “I started as a software developer and I grew to be the Innovation and Creativity team manager and the head of User Experience.” In her line of work, she realised that they were missing the writing side of the product and most surprisingly, she ended up studying content writing. Inês explained “I always loved to write so it wasn’t hard for me to fall in love with that kind of area and once I studied UX writing and copywriting, I realised that this was a whole area that I could work for myself and balance work and family in a different way, as a freelancer."
Additionally, “I was in love with everything that I was reading to my kids, and we have a diverse collection so I wanted to try writing a children’s book so I did a course in the United States in children’s literature and when I finished, I had something close to a book.”
When asked about the future, Inês affirmed that she wants to keep on writing middle-grade books so there will be plenty to come from this author!
For more information, please visit https://inesfoliveira.com/ where you can also sign up to the author’s newsletter. To purchase a copy of Inês’ book you can pre-order it direct from the publisher at https://thecollectivebookstudio.bookstore.ipgbook.com/ or from Amazon.
Following undertaking her university degree in English with American Literature in the UK, Cristina da Costa Brookes moved back to Portugal to pursue a career in Journalism, where she has worked at The Portugal News for 3 years. Cristina’s passion lies with Arts & Culture as well as sharing all important community-related news.