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In Conversation with Elizabeth-Irene Baitie, Author of ‘Flying Up the Mountain: A Novel’

Elizabeth-Irene Baitie

Just Fame recently conducted an interview with Elizabeth-Irene Baitie about her book Flying Up the Mountain: A Novel, during which we delved into the depths of her literary creation, explored the origins of her inspiration, and unearthed a plethora of fascinating insights!

Q. Welcome to Just Fame! How are you doing?

I’m doing excellently, and so delighted to share my children’s book with you on Jukebox Mind.

Q. Your book is garnering amazing reviews! Please tell us about your wonderful novel.

“In Flying Up the Mountain, our main character –  twelve year old Ato – and his two best friends have won a chance to visit Nnoma, a beautiful private bird island in Ghana, West Africa. They join dozens of other selected children on this much-longed for trip. Like all the other children, Ato and his two friends are hoping to earn the title of Asafo – Protectors of the Earth. To do this, they have to undertake, and win, a number of tasks set out for them on the island. 

Ato also has another reason for wanting to be on the island; his father (who had died when Ato was a baby) had helped to make the island a place that children could visit. His father had also hidden a secret plan on the island – a plan to save the island from those who would destroy it for their selfish ambitions. But where is this plan hidden?  As events unfold on the island, it becomes disturbingly obvious that something is wrong on the island. Ato and his friends are now in a race against time to thwart the impending danger to the island. And the question hangs heavy: will they discover the secret plan in time?

I won’t spoil it for you, but this tropical island adventure is packed with surprises!

Let me add that Flying Up the Mountain is a sequel to Crossing the Stream which is published in 5 countries so far. I’m also pleased to mention that both books earned starred Kirkus reviews!

Q. What inspired you and motivated you to write this book? 

“Writing this book was fueled by my observation of the incredible power of young people to shake things up for the better. Flying up the Mountain is a celebration of the emerging generation striving for a greener, fairer Earth. The kids in my story are no pushovers. Yes, they get scared, and they’re up against stronger, older people, but they’re still ready to fight against the greed and selfishness that destroys our planet. Family love is also at the heart of this book. I grew up with a strong and loving grandma who poured encouragement into me – just like my main character’s grandma did for him! Grandmas often have a way of helping you see yourself as a stronger person, therefore finding courage to do things that you might normally have been unable to do.

Q. Any daily rituals that you follow in order to stay creative?

Rumi’s poem The Breeze at Dawn really resonates with me. The first line goes: The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don’t go back to sleep. I love the stillness and silence of dawn. In those moments, I sit in quiet reflection, letting ideas float through and percolate in my mind,  and capturing on paper the ones that grab me. When I’m out and about, inspiration is everywhere in the form of people, especially young people, whose company I find enjoyable and stimulating. I’m always jotting down nuggets from incidents and conversations that can add richness to my stories. Of course, I read too; my last event of the day is to snuggle down between the sheets with a pleasurable book. Even if I’m tired and can only manage two pages, reading is an absolute must for me. 

Q. What’s next? Which books or projects are you working on now?

I’m crafting another captivating children’s book. It’s a tale of magical realism with a 12-year-old girl at its centre, and it’s set against the vibrant backdrop of my homeland Ghana. This West African country is quite an appropriate setting for this story – every day here is lived side by side with the physical, the spiritual and the magical!

My readers can expect an enchanting adventure of courage, faith, and hope.

Q. Finally, as we ask all our guests, do you have any closing thoughts that you would like to share with the world and our readers?

I’d like to say a big thank you to all my readers around the world. Of course I couldn’t have gotten this book into the hands of readers without my  wonderful agent Sarah Odedina, and publisher Norton Young Readers. Flying up the Mountain is one of several children’s stories I’ve written that are set in Ghana, and sent out with love to the world. I’m excited for readers everywhere to experience the beauty and richness of stories from my part of the world.

About the Author: Elizabeth-Irene Baitie is the director of a medical laboratory. She holds an MSc in Clinical Biochemistry with Molecular Biology from the University of Surrey, UK. Her stories for children and young adults simultaneously tug at, and thrill the heart. Her first children’s book, A Saint in Brown Sandals, won the Macmillan Writer’s Prize for Africa. Subsequent YA novels  The Twelfth Heart, The Dorm Challenge, Rattling in the Closet and The Lion’s Whisper were awarded the Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature. Her seventh book – middle-grade novel Crossing the Stream – published in 2021, has received several starred reviews. Flying up the Mountain is her eight children’s novel. Elizabeth-Irene loves chocolate cake and green peas (but not together), and long phone conversations with friends and family. She lives in vibrant Accra with her husband. They are parents to three grown-up children. 

For more details visit: www.elizabethirenebaitie.com

Flying Up the Mountain: A Novel is now available on Amazon!

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