Author Questions and Answers

Q. What inspired you to write The Seven Rules of Elvira Carr?

It’s hard to pin these things down! I work with adults with learning difficulties, my husband used to work in a monkey sanctuary and my mother had a stroke. I think experiences mingle in your subconscious mind and emerge in a new form. And I wanted to give a voice to a marginalized character.

Q. What do you think is Elvira’s most admirable quality?

Her acceptance of others without criticizing or judging them (very much). Especially as she has often not been accepted herself.

Q. If you had to choose seven rules to live by what would they be?

  1. Be kind.
  2. Don’t blame – find the reason for the error/conflict and work to stop it happening again.
  3. Don’t let the past or the future colour the present.
  4. Don’t let other people’s expectations of you define your life. (Elvira has to learn this)
  5. Don’t let your life be defined by your job. Life outside work is important.
  6. Have the courage to tell people how much they mean to you before it’s too late.
  7. Don’t look like prey – meaning if you appear vulnerable, unfortunately you may be taken advantage of.

Q. Were there any challenges in writing from Elvira’s unique perspective?

Yes, I had to keep reminding myself that Elvira wouldn’t pick up on that comment or facial expression or body language. I had to remember that she wouldn’t understand the nuances of a joke and would be likely to take things literally.

Q. What would you like readers to take away from your novel?

I would hope to have shown what it is like to be someone else.
That adults with learning difficulties face the same human trials as those without them. And that people with Aspergers are not cold and unfeeling but, often, eager to help and upset by the pain of others. They just need guidance and explanation of how best to express it and to show support. I hope that readers might be prompted to think that people with Aspergers have a lot to offer – a lack of guile, a childlike trustfulness, a creatively different attitude to solving problems – to those who don’t have their difficulties.

Q. What advice would you give to someone who doesn’t feel like they fit in?

Your time will come. You haven’t found the right place or the right social circle yet. And remember, outsiders are best placed for illuminating the inside of everything.

4 Responses

  1. Hello,

    I saw your book when I was browsing in Waterstones the other day and was really quite taken aback by the title, as my name is Elvira Parr. It’s so rare for me to see my first name anywhere, let alone with a surname so similar to mine as well! So I hope you don’t mind me asking how you decided on Elvira’s name?

    Can’t wait to read the book itself (of course I had to buy it!).

    All the best,

    1. Hello Elvira

      How strange! I’m glad you bought it – was obviously meant to be. You’ll find out in the book that Mother was keen on opera and a character, Elvira, features in an opera by Mozart so that’s why I chose Elvira’s Christian name (plus it’s a very pretty name). The surnames of all the characters in the book are named after my past English teachers. Elvira was originally going to be Elvira Cunningham but unfortunately her name was then too long to fit onto the book jacket so I had to go with the surname of my favourite auntie instead. I do hope you enjoy the book and thank you for your interesting question. All the best, Frances

  2. Hello and thank you for this delightful book!
    I have taught some children with Asperger’s, so many things struck a chord. But more importantly for me personally was how many of her experiences are ones that, actually, we all share to varying degrees.
    In particular, it highlights the phenomenon of being pigenholed at an early age, or labelled as someone who is bad at X or Y, not sporty, not practical etc. and the impact that can have, whilst in reality we are all constantly learning and developing.
    It also showed how important it is to get genuine recognition and acceptance from people outside the home or family – I thought you were spot on with the patronising comment by the mother’s friend that it was ‘nice’ of Karen to say she couldn’t manage without Elvira when actually Elvira was doing a great job and deserved some praise!
    All the best

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Jenny and for taking the trouble to respond. I agree, I think Elvira’s situation is universal to a large degree. All the best, Frances

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