Mavisel Yener: All the children on earth laugh at the same things, cry at the same things; childhood has a different language.
*How would you describe Mavisel Yener to us?
I am just a speck of dust that has come the billion-year-old universe as a guest for a short time and said, “I’ll take a look and get out.” In this short time, I allow myself the joy of doing the things I love. One hundred and fifty books that I have written are a part of this happiness.
* You were a successful dentist; how did your writing journey begin?
I didn’t start writing after I became a dentist; I was already writing long before that. My passion for writing started when I was in elementary school, with the support of my teachers and family. I was a lucky child; our house had a huge library… The more I read, the more my joy of writing grew. Actually, it’s a cliché to say, “I started writing when I was a child;” but of course, I don’t see that as authorship. Let’s call that a passion for books. It was when I was in college that I become serious about writing.
I entered competitions; I got several awards. I was working as a dentist when I was offered to prepare the children’s section of Gazete Ege (a local newspaper). Thus, I started to prepare the newspaper’s children’s section. In other words, first came the newspaper, the magazines, and the competitions. I had won awards, but I didn’t have published book. Upon an offer from a publishing house and its editor, I wrote my first book, The Blue Apple. Gaining experience in magazines, newspapers, and competitions first increased my competence. Yet, I will never forget my primary school teacher’s contributions… I both resumed my profession as a dentist and pursued writing.
* Many lines of work and business, and people have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. How has it affected you (negatively or positively) both as an author and as an individual?
School events and book fairs were interrupted during the quarantine period; naturally my schedule became a program resumed from home as of March 2020. Just like everyone who works, my life changed too. I used to get on a plane and go out of town at least six times a week, but now I don’t even go downtown! During the pandemic, I started doing school events online.
First of all, I made technical preparations for the format and content of the online events, and the arrangement of the meetings. Such as attaching a camera to my computer, getting high-quality headphones, getting a tripod for my phone and so on… I revised the contents. I worked on some online activities to replace some of the face-to-face activities. As not to appear in front of the children with causal home wear, a light make-up, a neat hairdo and a colorful blouse became essentials before meetings for sure. To feel better, I even put on some perfume every time. Children’s motivation to keep read books and teachers’ efforts during the pandemic are praiseworthy.
* You have attended many domestic and international events and bookfairs and met with your young readers. How does it feel to meet with children from other countries or yours? Could you tell us a striking incident?
My books have been translated into many different languages, and I’ve came together with the children in those countries. Actually, all the children on earth laugh at the same things, cry at the same things; childhood has a different language. I visited a village school in Van, and children there didn’t believe that I was the author of the book they had read. I tried for some time to convince them otherwise. They said: “Authors are dead people; there can’t be an alive author.” But of course, I established a very good communication with these children who hadn’t known any other authors other than Ömer Seyfettin in the end.
* You have been writing for years and you are very successful. How do you create so many stories? What nourishes you?
My inspiration is the life itself. Nature, people, events, environment, animals, emotions, and anything about life you can think of are my sources of inspiration.
*What is the importance of the science of pedagogy in children’s writing? Today many authors write children’s books; later on, we’re horrified by damaging aspects of these books. What are your thoughts about this?
It is important for people who are going to write for children to embrace interdisciplinary information and create new contexts. “Embrace” the key word here. Recently, especially during the pandemic, we see that “online authorship workshops” that claim to “train writers” have grown in number. There are even those who publish the texts composed at the end of these courses, some of which are completed in a week some in a month. Literature is a work of accumulation. Besides accumulation of pedagogical, psychological, sociological knowledge, it requires an aptitude for creativity. Pedagogic knowledge is important for writing for children, but it’s not enough on its own.
* Is there anyone else in your family who writes, is interested in literature or arts? What would you say about genetic memory?
Yes, there are. My grandfather, grandmother, and father have written books. Our great aunt is Muazzez Tahsin Berkand, who is known for her novels. There may be a genetic predisposition to writing. However, it’s known that there are notable authors from bloodlines with no authors, or even with illiterate parents. Genetic memory may factor in about one percent, but it is not possible to write without effort and hard work.
* You use our pure Turkish very well in your stories. Do today’s children use Turkish well, and what responsibilities fall on parents regarding this?
Children use only a small number of words and use quick expressive methods of fast flowing life. Child learns language in their family. If we make time to talk with our children, if we use proverbs and idioms casually, these will be absorbed spontaneously. Reading books written in fine Turkish, watching good movies, going to the theatre, and making time to talk about these are the responsibilities that fall on parents.
* What types of books do children like more? What was your latest published book? Are there any new books on the horizon?
Kids love adventure and sci-fi genres. Younger age groups cannot get enough of fairy tales. And now, my little readers like poetry as well. My latest published book is The Library of Eternity, a fantast novel. There are new books in the horizon. Another exciting adventure book is on the way.
*Your latest novel, The Library of Eternity, opens huge doors of an imaginary universe for its readers. What do we come across when we enter through this door?
When we enter through the doors of The Infinity Library, we come together with many famous fictional characters such as Don Quixote, Pinocchio, Alice, and their “imagination managers”. It’s a novel that brings together the essences of books written in different periods by establishing intertextual relations. As it’s described in the novel, The Library of Eternity is a huge storage that preserves the traces of cultural treasures left in written form since the existence of the earth and where the heroes of the classics appear in the present in new disguises.
When the “Imagination Syndrome” strikes on the imaginary island of Maskanunka and everyone starts to daydream, reading is banned, and the library is shut down. People of Maskanunka’s perception of the world has been changed.
The biggest dream of Pinocchio, who accidentally comes to the island at that time, is to be equals with other children. There are many more common features between the Maskanunkans, who change colors when they lie, and Pinocchio, whose nose grows when he lies. Both the people of Maskanunka and Pinocchio seek justice and equality. In the surprising end of the novel, while realizing the power of books in our individual and social destinies, we also think about how to protect the cultural heritage of humanity. We take a glimpse at what will happen in the next century and realize the value of preserving the information uploaded to the archive of infinity I can say that a fun adventure awaits the readers.
*How can readers who would like to get in touch with you can contact you?
They can write me through contact section on my website, www.maviselyener.net. They may also contact me via Instagram at @maviselyener.