Clementia Kiele was born on a small island in Papua New Guinea known as the Admiralty Islands, which is two degrees off the equator. Though she didn’t grow up with her parents reading bedtime stories, her parents instead told bedtime stories. She migrated from Papua New Guinea to Canada 19 years ago. After obtaining her Canadian citizenship, she went to Lakehead University as an adult student and gained an Honours Bachelor’s degree in social work. She lives in Thunder Bay with her children and two grandchildren. Though she likes to write, she also enjoys gardening, meditating, fishing, and volunteering in the community.
Shauna Kosoris: What was the inspiration behind your book, The Giant Pig and the Little Old Woman?
Clementia Kiele: The inspiration behind my book is to preserve and pass down stories for future generations, sharing inspiring tales with children from other cultures and backgrounds.
Why did this particular folk tale from the South Pacific speak to you?
The tale is a heroic story of bravery and resilience: the courage and tenacity of a kind old woman turns evil, sadness and hatred into love and forgiveness, bringing peace and joy to her people once more. I believe that true peace and freedom is achieved through love and forgiveness.
Why did you target the message of The Giant Pig and the Little Old Woman towards children?
Children love heroes, and they would like to be heroes themselves when they grow up. We live in a world with much injustice, bullying being one example. Those being bullied may experience feelings of helplessness and shame. I hope and pray that children reading this book will realize that being bullied and discriminated against is not their fault. Having the strength to fight back with love and forgiveness can change the dynamic from a negative to a positive.
I recall during our first year living in Thunder Bay, my son was bullied in school for defending a boy who himself was being bullied. My son stood his ground and challenged the bullies. The following day at school, those ‘bullies’ became my son’s friends. If children are taught to believe in themselves, circumstances can change for the good of all.
How long did it take you to write The Giant Pig and the Little Old Woman?
Well, to be honest, although I wrote the story in one day, it took about seven months to complete the finished product. I revised the telling a number of times so as to make it more interesting and captivating for children of different backgrounds.
Did you have any input into the drawings that accompany the book’s text?
I was given various drawing styles to choose from, and I finally decided upon this particular style because it seemed to portray my story the best.
And, yes, I had a lot of input towards the depiction of the artwork for it to be as child-friendly as possible.
So what are you working on now?
I am working on another children’s book. It is folklore as well, a tale of mystery and love.
Let’s finish up with a few questions about reading. What book or author inspired you to write?
Growing up, I loved mystery stories and tales of heroism, my favourites being Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys series of books.
Is there a book or author that you think everyone should read?
There are many good books and authors out there! I think Sully: the Untold Story Behind the Miracle on the Hudson is a good read as it’s based on a true heroic story.
What are you currently reading?
I just finished reading Sully by Chesley B. Sullenberger III. I’m now reading Lone Eagle by Danielle Steel.