Q&A With Marlisa Doubell, Author “Ms Mol”

Marlisa Doubell holds a BA degree in Psychology and English Literature. She trained as an actor at the Academy of Live & Recorded Arts in London, 2000. After graduating, she lived in London for several years and worked in the film, tv & theatre industry. In 2001, Marlisa wrote, produced & self published her first play, a comedy called ‘Relationshit!’ She went on to write several more short plays for London fringe theatre.

In 2005 Marlisa completed her teacher training and received her QTS & NQT UK teacher qualifications as a Drama specialist for ages 8-18. Marlisa returned home to Cape Town with her husband to start a family in 2006. Marlisa founded the Sugar-daddy Theatre Company in 2010 which received a Fleur Du Cap, People’s Choice award in 2013. Marlisa managed the company until 2020 and produced 2-3 small to medium scale theatre productions per year.

Marlisa hosted VDAY in Cape Town for five years from 2016-2020, and made her first short film, ‘Lonely Lights’ in 2015 for the 48 hour film project. In 2016/2017 ‘Just a car’ her second short film received several international awards during its time on the international short film festival circuits from 2016-2019. Awards include the LA shorts award, the ‘SOFIES’ award and in 2019 it won Best Short Film Platinum award at the Olympus LA Short film festival, as well as numerous nominations & official selections during this time. Marlisa repatriated to London with her family in 2020. Marlisa enjoys work in various creative capacities within the industry as an actor, independent theatre / film maker, private drama teacher and independent producer & director.

Timings: when did you write the book and when did it become available to the public?

This is a lockdown story! After SA 2020 March Lockdown my family and I repatriated to UK. This meant being separated from my family and nieces for over a year due to further uk lockdowns and travel restrictions. When I spoke to my nieces I noticed a drop in their happiness levels and my way of cheering them up was trying to get them to focus on things that bring joy! IE ; focusing on our favourite things! It starts with a simple question- what are your favourite things? I ask every kid I’m meet this question- And it’s amazing because every child gives a different answer !! From Football to baking to painting or dancing! Each child answers something different!!! And once you get into the topic of their favourite things the happiness levels automatically rise.

What inspired the writing of this book?

I just wanted to cheer up the younger children in my life.

Why do you think young children have or are experiencing depression or a loss of joy during this pandemic? What have been contributing factors ( boredom, missing out on play dates and birthday parties, masked caregivers etc.)?

Yes all of the above!
Kids are simple little creatures, they need to feel secure in their world to grow and develop and to learn. And they do this through exploring their world, things they enjoy and through play. A lot of this was taken away from them over night. And this age group is really to young to understand why the grownups around them were so afraid. At this age they are so sensitive abs literally absorb what their care givers and parents feel. Its important that we are aware of this. They are sponges – mentally and emotionally. Mental health and emotional health is a priority now.

You’ve been doing readings at schools (in Cape Town?) why do you think children are responding so positively to Ms Mol?

It’s a simple concept. A simple idea. Ms Mol is a relatable character. The book encourages the reader to engage with her and find out what her favourite things are and then in turn think about what their own favourite things are.

What has been the reception by parents so far? How many books sold?

The book launch was on the 20th December. 100 copies have sold so far.

What is the main message you’d want children to get from this book as well as parents?

Ms Mol reminds us all to focus on things that bring us joy.

What is the age bracket for the book?

Two to seven years.

As a first time author, what was the process like for you?

It happened very naturally and was a progression that grew out of lockdown. I wrote the story for my nieces. I worked with an illustrator online to capture what I was envisioning. At first it was just a digital book that I sent to my nieces. Then my son who is super on his tech got it onto the Kindle platform in the children’s section. And then a few of my younger drama students asked for it in paperback. And so I published it.

Do you think there are more Ms Mol books on the horizon or another children’s book perhaps?

Yes, Ms Mol books will become a series.

Where is the book available and at what price?

It’s available online as a digital book or to order the paperback via Amazon or Loot (R205) in SA and a few other select online stores.

By Andrew Germishuys

Founder of SAMDB, Andrew has worked full time in the film industry since the early 2000's. He has trained as an actor, completing his LAMDA Gold Medal, and attending many courses in Cape Town acting studios, with masterclasses with some of the international industries top directors, producers and filmmakers. Working as an actor and armourer in the film and television industry have given Andrew a great balance of skills across the board when it comes to the entertainment industry. Catch him on Twitter: twitter.com/andrewgerm_za Instagram: instagram.com/andrewgerm_za IMDb: www.imdb.com/name/nm5390453/