Thanks again for an absolutely wonderful Review of my book The Sword of Demelza. I can tell you that I, and all my characters are thrilled!
1. Are you a first time children's book author and Australian born?
I am not an Australian, maybe a little in my heart. I was born in NYC, the Bronx to be exact, and raised in New Jersey. I received my degree from Western Connecticut State University, and now reside in Connecticut. It’s a far cry from Australia, but you can be sure Australia seems to have always been a part of me. There has been a strong connection since I was very young, and the theme seemed to follow me into adulthood. I will be visiting Australia for the very first time this month, visiting with dear friends in Melbourne. I hope to take many pictures of the creatures that are mentioned in my book!
2. What made you want to write about endangered animal species in Australia?
I must tell you that I have a sincere reverence for life on this planet, and I make a point to try to teach that it is we, the human population, which can either positively or negatively effect our environment. This includes the myriad species of animals on earth. I was always very interested in animals. My mother was very tolerant. As a matter of fact, she didn’t mind too much when one day I brought home a snake. She didn’t even mind when he got lose for two days, finally slithering out from beneath the refrigerator! She liked the mice, and when I was in college she didn’t seem to mind the iguana, even after he grew to a length of about four feet from head to tip of tail. But, I digress; it’s Australia’s animals that you were asking about. The short answer is, what child doesn’t love, or isn’t fascinated by koala bears (they aren’t bears, by the way), and kangaroos? Oh, did I answer your question with a question? Oops, doing it again. Anyway, my fascination with koalas and kangaroos led to the discovery of the many other incredible animals that live in the land down under. Did you know that eighty percent of the world’s poisonous critters live in OZ? The fact that many of Australia’s animals are endangered just fueled my passion even further. This, my first book, is a vehicle to inform youngsters. I intend on ‘teaching’ in schools and libraries preparing an interesting and informative presentation that I hope will spark an interest in youngsters and maybe their parents as well. Wouldn’t that be nice!
3. In your Author's Note of The Sword of Demelza, I especially liked that you said, "The characters actually bugged me. They were alive in my head, and they wanted out...!" What was the research and writing process like for you?
Every animal, plant and place that is mentioned in the book was researched. The places are real, the animals are real, and the names of the trees and plants are real. I became familiar with the status of the animals as stated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). However, not every animal in the book is endangered, some are actually not even indigenous to the country, and I did use some license in this respect. As to my writing process, I have been told that many writers create outlines. I don’t do that. I sort of dream the story. It runs through my mind like a movie, and then I write brief paragraphs, describing what is happening. The paragraphs become chapters, I’m constructing a skeleton, so to speak, binding them together to make the story flow. Then I build on that skeleton until the story is established, continually working and re-working until it all comes to life. Along the way, the characters are roaming around in my head. They talk to me, helping to point me in the direction they want to go. I don’t argue with them.
4. Tell me a little about Devon and why you left him hidden for the first twelve chapters of the book?
I left Devon out of the picture for a two reasons. First, I wanted to establish a link between Devon and my reader. After becoming invested in him, and he disappears, I am hoping my reader would pine a little for him, and his troubled character, thus reading on, turning each page in hopes that he would be in the next chapter. Secondly, I wanted to establish the clarity of the subplot, building the suspense with Erik and Emma. My hope would be that readers would be excited and thrilled to find that Erik and Emma would lead them right into Devon, which, of course, they do.
5. What do you wish to achieve in the minds of your readers?
What I would like children, and youngsters to take away from this book, are a few simple yet important moral lessons. The problem of endangered animals is truly a side issue from the story itself. I want young people to recognize that it’s not what you are that counts, it’s not how big or strong you are that counts, it’s the conviction of your heart, it’s the decisions that you make along life’s road, and the people that you meet along the way that make you what you are. I want them to recognize that there are so many different people in the world, and we may seem singular, but if we work together we can accomplish great things, and we have! Like Perry, the wolf spider says in the book to Erik, “…I am a part of the forest…you will see, young man, maybe sooner than you expect, that you too are a small piece of the whole, and will play your part accordingly.” Every life matters, no matter how small, every child matters. We adults need to impress this upon them. They need to know this, it’s very important.
6. What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on another Australian Fantasy Adventure. It’s titled, The Gift of Sunderland. This book will be very exciting, lots of fantasy, and sorcery. It will bring readers back to the beginning, the forging of the sword, and will introduce new characters. However, readers of The Sword of Demelza may recognize some characters. I’m very excited about it. It is well underway, and should be available this time next year. I also will be having more sketches produced by the wildly talented Guy Atherfold. It’s gonna be good!
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