We had the good fortune of connecting with Coco Mary and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Coco, what role has risk played in your life or career?
All my life I have taken risks! Often I have failed, and sometimes, sweetly, I succeeded. I think the act of risking is exhilarating. Lately, surprisingly, I have found that I also enjoy my failures.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I write unusual children’s books and I create cinematic collages with my photographs. It is as if you are walking into a film, when you enter the pages. The books color outside of the lines, so traditional publishers do not know what to do with them. They want me to follow a formula, which I cannot do. I listen to my inner muse and my gut impulses, a bit like Vincent van Gogh. Society will catch on. I believe that.
What is the source of my children’s books? I taught and helped raise over one thousand children throughout my life. I started when I was a child, working in my mother’s pre-school in South Africa. As a poor young back-packer through Europe, I often found work as an au pair. When I studied at La Sorbonne in Paris, I worked with two very charming girls who are now grown adults. In Los Angeles, I helped and inspired many, many children and often became their fairy godmother or angel, as they battled through family issues. We read countless children’s books together. I became an expert on what books are on the market; the styles, the colors, the trends and so on. But it is Dare Wright’s black and white photo stories of The Lonely Doll that inspired me to use images rather than illustrations for my books.
It has been a long, hard-working road with many sacrifices, and many times I just wanted to give up. Yet, the next morning I would get up and know I do not have a choice. These books are a part of my destiny and I cannot ignore the impulse to keep creating them. The ideas just keep coming, even before I have finished one book, the next one is already shaping in my mind.
Darling Child Books is my imprint and website where I sell my books. I am very proud of it. This little fledgling company will get there. I am planning to turn Darling Child Books into a non-profit, so that I can give my books away to children from low-income and abusive homes. I also want to start book mobiles in very poor areas in South Africa (my home country) – a dangerous proposition, because these areas are often also violent and crime-ridden. There are so many unfortunate children to reach … yes, they need food in these areas, but they also need education and inspiration, and this is where Darling Child Books comes in.
My fourth book, a brand-new release – Our Young Lady of Paris – will be published in January 2023. This book is for teenagers and the storm they enter when they reach that age. It is about loneliness, invisibility and being misunderstood. And it is also about the Magical Place within themselves that they can discover. The book has vibrant images of Paris, a fashionable 16-year-old called Agnes, and Math, Chemistry & Sacred Geometry symbols and definitions, binding together the inner and outer worlds of Agnes in a supernatural way!
You will be able to purchase it on Amazon, and on our website – Darling Child Books.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love LA! I have lived here since 1994 (via Paris, London, the Middle East and South Africa) and am always finding new, interesting places to visit. I am a Sagittarius, so discovery is the name of the game for me.
Where to go in LA? I like the offbeat, artsy places, so here goes: Hollywood Forever Cemetery is just plain cool. Especially the movies Cinespia shows on select nights. As you sit with the gravestones, you drink your champagne and eat your picnic under blankets, and you wonder how many ghosts are watching the movie as well.
I have recently discovered the fragrant South Coast Botanical Garden with all its walks and hikes and its spider pavilion, where you stroll (carefully) amongst spiders. In the near future (Dec 2022) they will have a European installation – Astra Lumina – creating an enchanted night walk through the garden by using theatrical effects, like the “moon” appearing and being lowered to you, as you walk.
Bob Baker’s Marionette Theater in Highland Park is a must! And old-fashioned, gorgeous red theater with vintage child-size puppets from yore, and charming old music that will enchant you. The puppeteers also pop up all over the city at events, and “walk” their marionettes amongst the people.
The Serra Retreat ( a Franciscan order) in Malibu has beautiful grounds and a labyrinth which you can walk, then sit and quietly overlook the city of Malibu and the ocean, as you dream of making your millions in the City of Angels. And …. have you visited the Bunny Museum …?
LA has some of the best food in the world, and believe me, I have been everywhere!
Little Sister for Vietnamese, Bestia – refined, trendy experience that surprises the palette, Pijja Palace for cool Indian pizza and unusual curry tastes, Kismet for Mediterranean amuse-bouche. I still love Gjusta in Venice for gourmet pizza, and then there is HOPE in Studio City, for vegan that will blow your mind. Porto’s for Cuban pastries is always fun, and for unbelievable ice cream – Fatamorgana on Ventura (clean and pure ice cream – the Texas Chocolate and Tobacco flavor is unforgettable) and Le Cafe de la Plage in Malibu for the most unusual flavors … like pineapple basil, and rose raspberry and lychee. Cruising through Topanga, do stop at TLC for a Balinese breakfast, fresh and tasty, by the nicest people you will ever meet.
The most thrilling thing to do in Hollywood? See Dorothy’s ruby red slippers and hold a real Oscar in your hands at the fascinating Hollywood Museum on Highland.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Carolyn Elliott’s book – Existential Kink, and her Mystery School at https://carolyngraceelliott.com/.