"Celestial Creatures is my encouragement to them"
Olga Gibbs Talks About Her Motivation, And The Real Life Influences On Her Work

On this sunny afternoon, I sit on the balcony with Olga Gibbs - but only through an internet connection and by reading the answers to the interview questions that I sent her a week prior. Regular readers are familiar with Olga Gibbs, as she has featured various times on this blog. She is the author or the Celestial Creatures series. 

When I sighed up to be part of the "Heavenward" blog tour in late 2018, I had not known what a great blogger-author relationship would stem from this adventure. Despite working together on various occasions over these years, I came to realise that I never stuck my "metaphorical microphone" underneath Gibbs' nose. Thus, I decided that this needed to change! 

The "Celestial Creatures" series had been planned for three books but the last had been split, leading to a four novel series. It also takes inspiration from biblical creatures; especially angels, and creates different "worlds" that run next to ours. However, as it soon becomes apparent Gibbs' motivation and inspiration in picking up a pent to write the story down, does not lie in biblical myths but comes stems from her work:

"One day I thought: “These girls have seen nothing good from humanity; nothing but abuse, pain and cruelty”, and then I began to wonder what would these girls have done to humanity, to everyone who hurt them, if they had the ultimate power? If they were, say, gods, placed above the ones who hurt them, overlooking those who didn’t care for them or broke them, what would they do then? What would power like that do to a person, but more importantly would it do to a girl like this? Would they follow the mainstream religious preaching on forgiveness of abusers or would they take revenge?" 

This lead to the creation of Ariel - the main character of the series -, and then the story started to take shape. Gibbs was heavily influenced by her work with these girls, stating that "[they] had allowed me to craft Ariel’s character with honesty and authenticity, to write her reactions as I’ve seen so many times before, while drawing on my knowledge in adolescent psychology and working within the remits of Trauma Informed care."  

Her intention with Ariel is to let her be part of an empowerment story, showing every abused and struggling girl, and also those who feel powerless that they have an archangel inside of them. "the archangel who can change a universe, a world, even if that world is only theirs." 

"It’s my encouragement to them, a whisper to keep going and not give up. It’s my proverbial shoulder to lean on, to let them know that someone knows about them and thinks of them, knows what they are going through."

Gibbs is very proud of how Ariel turned out as a character, that she is different and that she is herself. However, when it came to finding a publisher this aspect was a bit of an issue. Gibbs approached a few agents with her story but the ones that were interested all wanted her to change Ariel - making her more likable, then remove some of the gore, and maybe crank up the romance a little, all for the sake of marketing the story to a mainstream audience. 

However, Gibbs stood her ground, especially when it came to Ariel. She wanted to keep her character honest: "She was real, as I’ve said earlier, drawn on my knowledge and experience, and reading reviews from readers who understood her, suffering from similar mental conditions to her, or who were in similar troubles, reading their gratitude, I knew that I’d made the right call." 

In the end, she decided to "go indie" and self-publish the series. "I didn’t set out to be an indie." This meant that the marketing is all up to her, one of the most important aspects of novels because "if you don’t advertise, how readers are going to discover your title, and hopefully, fall in love?" 

Hallow by Olga Gibbs
Hallow by Olga Gibbs, the second part of the Celestial Creatures series

With this method, Gibbs managed to gain loyal readers so obviously, I couldn't help but wonder how she would feel about any kind of fanfare and transformative works based on her novels - i.e. fanart or fanfiction. 

"I think fanfare is the greatest compliment an author, or creator of any sorts, could have. It’s a seal of approval of the characters, story, the depth to which a story has taken readers," Gibbs responds. Turns out that she would be flattered should there be a fanfare base on her series. 

"Celestial Creatures" is going to be finished by the end of this year, this raises the question what Gibbs  is planning for the future. At the moment she has two active projects: one is a crime thriller that takes place in London and young people's involvement in gangs. She focuses especially on the "Country Lines" which are the routs drug dealer use to distribute drugs throughout the country. 

Her second project is also a thriller called "The Placement". This time the story leans towards a psychological and domestic aspect instead of crime. The main story is about a couple staring their fostering journey. Gibbs has been so kind to offer an excerpt, which is available at the end of the interview. 

While this sounds like a genre shift - going from YA/Fantasy to crime and psychological thrillers - Gibbs disagrees because, as she explains, her stories don't fit into a genre per se. Instead, she stays true to herself by sharing stories that include darkness and lifting curtains that hide uncomfortable topics. 

After all, "Celestial Creatures" is above all a story of an "abused girl, suffering with PTSD and schizophrenia, and her battle with the big cruel world for a slice of her own happiness, some peace and quiet." The fantasy element is a way to make the story more interesting and make it easier for victims of abuse to read about a character they can relate to without having to read about real-life accounts that they may have had to live through before. 

This is also the focus of her new novels: "My new projects will be about suffering and struggles of people too, disillusioned by establishment, where, as in the “Celestial Creatures”, there will be references to socio-economic and class issues, only this time these issues will take the centre, and just as in “CC”, the main characters will be young people: pushed to the breaking point by their families, by poverty, crime."

Fear not, fans of Olga's fantasy elements, she is going to be back there. After all her imagination won't let her rest otherwise. There are always new creatures and new worlds. However, she is going to take a step back from writing Young Adult. "I wanted to write the “Celestial Creatures” and I have done it, have dedicated it to young survivors everywhere, so my job in that genre is done." 

In the end, Gibbs is not bothered about trying to fulfill any demand on the market or perfectly fit into a genre. Instead she wants to convey a feeling: "a dark, trying, questioning and slightly uncomfortable feel." Which she does with lots of well-honed skill and flair. 

However, Olga Gibbs does not solely focus on her own author's career. She brought the "https://wordlyambition.com/" competition into life this year. A platform to show-cast, and support new writers, especially if they come from an underprivileged and minority background. Everyone who writes in English - no matter the country or social background - can take part. There are three categories: novel, short story, as well as poetry. 

The motivation behind it stems from her work: In the last 8 years Gibbs was fostering, and worked in a mental health unit for children, as well as with homeless teens. She has seen the vicious circle that these people live in, and later in life these children often follow the footsteps of their parents: "the same factories, same substance abuse, same unfortunate choice in partners, simply copying what they’ve seen." 

So with Wordly Ambition Gibbs wants to give them an opportunity to tell their stories and break the vicious circle, and further raise awareness to the different stories that these people are going to tell: 

""Every human is a universe”, and just as this saying goes, every child, every young person is a universe, and that universe is different to others, very often operating under its own rules. The survival of “universe” of some young people I work with is bloodier and tougher; the stakes are higher, in many instances life or death, especially if they are involved in crime or homeless. These young people overcame horrors that some couldn’t even imagine, and because of that, their stories would be different to mainstream."

Gibbs plans to reach out to school and colleges to invite at risk youth to take part. The competition is non-profit, where you will be charged an entry fee if you can afford it, to "pay" for the entry of someone who can't. 

After an interview that discussed heavy topics, I decide that it would be nice to end it on a lighter note. Thus, I invite Olga to a round of "this or that": 

Ebook or paperback 
Tough one. Purely for mobility benefits – ebook, but for everything else – paperback/hardback.

Series or standalone 
Series, but no longer than 4-5 books.

Writing into the night or starting early
Early, definitely. By about 8-9pm, I’m falling asleep where I stand, especially if I’m working that day as my job is very emotionally demanding.

Tea or coffee 
Good freshly-brewed coffee for morning and tea (Earl Grey and green) for the rest of the day.

Cats or dogs 
Both! I had both, at the same time and I loved it. They were funny and loved each other.

I am very grateful that Olga Gibbs agreed to this interviews, and shared such an insight into her work and motivation behind it. Furthermore that she was willing to share such a detail, which showed to me that she is a person of integrity.

Don't forget to read the excerpt of "The Placement" available below! 

"The Placement” - excerpt: 

I never thought, even for a second, that we wouldn’t be approved as foster carers. 

We spent last year in a tightly knit ball with our supervising social worker. She inspected our home, our car, the room allocated for fostering; even the fences around the house and the shed at the bottom of the garden were kicked and rattled. She spoke to our children, our children’s school. We booked an appointment with our GP and went through the “full medical”. 

Every public record on us was brought to light. Our financial affairs were discussed, our friends and family were questioned on the suitability of us to become carers. Our past was combed and aired, thoroughly revisiting our childhood and upbringing and the psychological impact it had left on us, questioning every step on the journey which has made us the people we are now. 

The process was long and tedious. The bureaucratic machine of children services was slow, laden with heavy moving parts of the red tape and staff shortages, carrying a condescending whiff of righteousness and a non-existent idea of privacy. The social services would barge into people’s lives uninvited, guns blazing, making everything their business. The difference this time was that we have invited them in, for better or worse.

I resigned myself to that lack of privacy. It became the necessary evil, the cost of making difference in a child’s life. I understood it and was prepared to pay the toll.

But during that year, the idea to cut our loses and to save humanity some other way had wormed into my mind, after overhearing a few horror stories, told softly behind social workers’ backs, of carers and the damage fostering had done to their families and their lives. 

These stories were never advertised, they were told in hushed voices with careful glances at a door and these carers were kept out of the way of the newly recruited stock. 

The training schedules of experienced and new foster carers training would rarely cross, and if that ever happened, aspiring foster carers would be kept away from experienced “soldiers”, in different training rooms, and only by mistake or a need of a coffer, a veteran might leak into a “prospective carers” pool. 
During one of these accidental accounts, I’ve heard a story of a carer who nearly lost her young grandchild, who was pushed under wheels of oncoming car by an older foster child, only the excellent reaction from the car driver who swerved, knocking over a row of bins, had saved that child’s life. Now that foster carer was wrung by heartache, which was tearing her apart, between her protective instinct for her own flesh and blood and the commitment she has made to the foster child, these emotions raging on the backdrop of tension between her and her daughter.

But for us, new carers, only a couple of carefully selected, seasoned carers were presented, paraded like prize-winning studs in a County Fair, sharing with smiles and upbeat voices, their happy and fulfilling experiences.


  1. Spectacular interview! I admire Olga and her work so much.

    1. Thank you! Interviewing her showed me what an amazing person was behind these books.


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