We enjoyed reading Eileen Holland’s guest blog post about the genesis of her new novel Sophie Trophy, and we hope you did too. We liked it so much we tracked her down to ask a few follow-up questions. 

Crwth: Were you still actively teaching when you came up with the idea for Sophie Trophy?

Eileen: Yes. It was 2004 – I retired from teaching in June 2011.

Crwth. Sophie obviously adores her teacher, yet she still misbehaves. Is this a trait you commonly saw in the classroom?

Eileen: Oh, yes. Some kids just cannot control themselves. They get excited about everything and before you know it, they are misbehaving when their intention is to show interest.

Crwth: Sophie Trophy has an enthusiastic nature that gets her into trouble. When you were a teacher, how did you handle kids like Sophie?

Eileen: I worked to keep my students engaged. I read to them a lot, told them stories and used dramatization in the classroom.

With kids who had trouble controlling themselves, I would praise them in front of the class. I would point out when they gave a good answer that showed they were paying attention. I’d make sure they were pulled into the lesson and got attention. Quite often that’s the thing: they want attention. It’s nice to single them out for something positive. It also raises their classmates’ awareness of their capabilities.

All these things helped them to understand that I cared about them. If they knew that I cared about and respected them, it would be easier to get them on track.

Crwth: You mentioned in your guest blog that you were a dreamy child but that you started to get control of it in Grade 3. Did someone else help you or did you come up with strategies on your own?

Eileen: I was getting behind in a couple of subjects – Reading strangely enough and math. In Grade 3, I started to pull ahead in part because I was singled out as having an ability. I was the best printer and writer in the class. That was a turning point for me. I thought to myself, “If I can do this well, I can do other things well too.”

I don’t remember my Grade 2 teacher at all. If I didn’t have a picture of her I wouldn’t be able to tell you who it was. That teacher obviously didn’t have much impact. I remember Kindergarten and Grade 1. Grade 2 I had bad marks. I seriously remember watching clouds and the trees and plastic bags in the wind, but I don’t remember what happened in class. I would notice a scuff on the floor shaped like a question mark…

What was your original question? I might have got sidetracked.

Crwth: Haha! It’s becoming evident why you did such a great job with Sophie’s dreamy character.

Eileen: My husband will tell you I tend to zone right out now and then. I’m still an incredibly active dreamer.

Crwth: This is a good time to segue to something you mentioned in your guest blog post: Sophie has a disability. Can you elaborate?

Eileen: When I decided to write a story that takes place in a school, I started thinking about interesting students I had taught, and a list of eight kids stood out in my mind. I realized they all had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Most of them were bright. Some excelled at sport; some were beautiful artists. Quite often they were good at science and math. They had a struggle, but they were amazing kids – one is now a computer programmer.

I want kids with ADHD or something similar, something a kid feels they must be careful of, to feel like they have company when they read Sophie Trophy. And for readers who don’t have challenges, I want them to realize “okay, well, this is what kids are like. In a classroom you have all sorts of kids. We have to be accepting.”


Get your copy of Sophie Trophy now.  Buy before March 14, 2019 with the promo code spider to receive a 30% discount.