Esabella Strickland will soon be releasing her debut novel Then and There, Here and Where which she co-wrote with her father Michael and will be holding a virtual book launch event, and the novel has also been made into a feature film, which Esabella also adapted. As a screenwriter, she has won numerous awards, with her most recent being for Best Script for A Dialogue with Pandora, and she is now writing a feature film script Death Noise with Michael Grais, best-known as the co-writer of Poltergeist. Having already hosted a number of events, Esabella will be hosting Global BC’s 55th Annual Variety Show of Hearts Telethon which will be aired on 20th February. Recently, Esabella spoke to us about working on her debut novel Then and There, Here and Where, writing a feature film script with Michael Grais and hosting the Global BC’s 55th Annual Variety Show of Hearts Telethon.
You will soon be releasing your debut novel Then and There, Here and Where, can you tell us more about the book?
Well, it’s about a girl who has a learning disability (ADHD, dyslexia, social anxiety). Soon after her parents disappear, she is sent to live with her grandparents and uncovers a family secret that she is part of a long line of soljourners that are protectors of the tree of life.
It’s like Nancy Drew meets Harry Potter meets the Dali Lama. It’s fiction/non-fiction, so you’re learning things while being entertained.
How long were you working on it and what’s it like seeing the finished product?
Really the last five years. The hardest part were all the re-writes and editing, but I still can’t believe it’s happening and we are halfway through the second novel.
Who do you think will enjoy reading the book and, without giving spoilers, can you say about the lead character Orabella?
I think women of all ages. Orabella is really relatable to the challenges we go through in real life. Orabella has to learn to trust her instincts as friends become enemies and enemies become friends.
Orabella’s struggles reflect my own challenges in life, from being bullied to being socially alienated when I was younger. A feeling you do not fit in anywhere.
What are you looking forward to most for the release and the virtual book launch event?
Connecting with people from all around the world, and their excitement about reading the book and inspiring others through Orabella.
You have anxiety, ADHD and dyslexia, how have you found the experience working on the novel?
It has been challenging at times. My dad really helped me a lot as he was my scribe, it’s hard to explain but I see stories in my head like watching a movie, my dad did the historical research and we talked about different scenes until it started to come alive in my head.
What have you enjoyed most about co-writing Then and There, Here and Where with your father Michael Strickland?
Well, mainly because he is my dad, haha, but also, when I was younger, we would go fishing and camping together and he would tell stories from when he was younger growing up in Newfoundland, but also scary spooky stories.
What was it like working on the feature film adaptation of your debut novel?
It was really hard because I had to take out a lot of scenes that were in the book as I had to reduce the run time on the movie, that is why books are always better than their movie counterparts because not the whole book is in the movie.
How did it feel winning your most recent award for Best Script for your film A Dialogue with Pandora and can you say about the film?
It’s very cool to be recognised for my storytelling, especially urban legends and horror stories. Hmm, A Dialogue with Pandora is kind of a trailer to a feature film screenplay called The Curse of the Phantom Queen. It’s about a family curse and how the main character must push through his pain to find forgiveness within himself.
Can you tell us about some of the other projects you’ve worked on?
Presently I am writing another feature film, again, another horror but relating to one of our most famous holidays, I am working with Michael Grais. I have a few other surprises coming up regarding acting roles but I can’t say right now what they are.
Are you able to tell us about working with Michael Grais on the feature film script for Death Noise?
I first reached out on LinkedIn and asked Mr. Grais if he wanted to collaborate on a horror film together, instead of ignoring me, he took a chance with me. He first sent me a script he worked on and asked for my opinion. He seemed happy with the outcome and gave me the green light to write something. So, Death Noise was born. Mr. Grais has been an awesome mentor, as he has been guiding me through the steps of budgeting, financing and pre-production of a feature film.
Where does your love of writing come from and is it something you’ve always enjoyed?
My mom and dad used to read a lot to me when I was younger, especially since I had a hard time reading with my dyslexia. They both read to me at bedtime. I would also listen to books on tape with my mom whenever we would go on road trips and my dad used to tell stories to me. I am not sure if it’s my ADHD brain but I can see stories unfold in my head like movies. I also have very vivid dreams.
You are hosting Global BC’s 55th Annual Variety Show of Hearts Telethon which airs February 20th, what are they like to host?
They are awesome, they are so supportive, they don’t treat me like a kid. They have been great mentors and guides and I cannot thank them enough. It’s different this year due to COVID, a lot of it was pre-taped separately which I found hard because we had to draw on our own energy and get excited, unlike past years when it was a big festival and we were all working together. I missed the connections of working with other professionals like Sophie Liu and Chris Galius, their energy is so inspiring.
Do you have any favourite TV shows or films to watch, and how do you like to spend your spare time?
Oh, I love The Office, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Psych, over and over haha, all of which have given me an idea to write a TV pilot.
I also love to draw, paint, skateboard, taekwondo, piano, bake and hang with friends.
Away from writing and acting, you are also an artist, what do you enjoy most about this?
Art is like storytelling but visually, I get inspiration for the things around me and when I am inspired, I pull out a canvas and start painting. I have always loved painting and drawing, it helps calm me down.
What career plans do you have for 2021?
Besides making a feature film with Michael Grais (which is huge!!), I want to learn more about 2D animation as I am interested in becoming a 2D animator when I graduate. I will probably be part of another CineLab filmmaking camp this summer and make another short film. We made one last summer called A Conversation with E which has already been accepted into twenty-five film festivals.
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