What was the inspiration that led you to write “ANTics”?
Answer: ANTics came to me in a dream. Earlier that day, I watched a group of ants carry a potato chip that was 20 times bigger than a single ant. They worked as a team to lift the chip up a six-inch kerb. A couple of ants ran around directing operations and others ran off and came back with reinforcements. They were amazing to watch and obviously left an impression. That night, I dreamt about ants. They were the equivalent of children and embroiled in a big adventure. When I woke, the idea for the story was in my head. It was like watching an animated movie. I got up and wrote it down as quickly as I could.
Is there anything in your personal life reflected in your books?
Answer: Just the adventures I got up to as an ant in a previous life. Ha! Ha! Seriously, I would have to say probably the adventures I got up to as a child – in real life and in my imagination. I was a Tom Boy, not a girlie girl. I loved to climb (hills, trees – you name it & always had scraped knees) .There was a big group of kids in our street that played together and issues like teamwork and bullying that feature in ANTics would surface from time to time. Although, I had lots of friends, I was pretty shy growing up and shyness is a feature of WOOF, another children’s book I’ve written.
It seems like you have a lot of experience working with children, can you tell us a little bit about it?
Answer: My work as a journalist brought me in contact with lots of children, but my main experience is being around young family members. Also as a child, I loved to read and had a really active imagination. My dolls and toys would ‘come to life’ and I had lots of imaginery friends.
Tell us about other books you’ve written, please.
Answer: I retired two years ago and am following a childhood dream of being an author. I have just written two books so far, ANTics and WOOF, another children’s novel. I had a crazy, lovable dog many years ago, called Pernod. He inspired WOOF, a story about an unusual dog that brings a shy boy out of his shell.
Can you please tell us about a normal day of yours? Your place to write, your activities, the facts around you that give you ideas for your writing… Readers like to know the authors.
Answer: No two days are the same. That drives me crazy but it’s what I’m used to. Working as a newspaper reporter, I would get up in the morning, not knowing what the day would throw at me. I followed the news – wherever it took me. Since quitting work, I play more golf. It’s a really challenging sport and I love it but it’s so time consuming. I have a website, blog and use social media to promote my work. On the days I play golf, I don’t get any writing done. I spent spare time on those days updating my website and blog and catching up with my social media friends and contacts. On non-golf days, I write or edit. My characters “talk” to each other in my head quite a lot, so I am constantly scribbling down ideas, conversations, phrases or just words in various notebooks I carry around with me. I like to write sitting in front of my computer in my office. I let the words flow and try to get down as much as I can when it’s fresh in my head. I go wherever my imagination takes me. Later, I tidy it up when I start editing.
Answer: For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved to read and write. As a kid, the local library was one of my favourite places to hang out. I loved browsing the shelves and it was my greatest wish to have people read my books one day. When I was about eight years old, I was bought a toy typewriter. That was so exciting. One of the happiest days of my life. Inspired by my favourite authors of the day, I penned my own stories and typed them up. My father illustrated them and bound them. When my name was put on the front cover, I was so proud. During my career as a journalist, I wrote stories every day about people I met. Since retiring, I have returned to what made me happy as a child. Writing is something I have to do. Maybe it comes from the shyness I spoke about earlier. I find it easier to write things down than to say them out loud to people.
Is there anything coming from Dakota Douglas in the future? I remember you told me about a sequel to ANTics, tell us about that one please.
Answer: ANTics is a fun adventure and was fun to write. The sequel, MutANTs features the same characters in a different adventure. It’s a bit darker. I didn’t deliberately plan it that way. That’s the direction my fingers took on the keys. I’m editing at the moment and plan to lighten it a tad. I didn’t sit down and plan to write for children. It just happened because of my dream about the ants. I’ve enjoyed then journey so far and have other children’s stories tumbling around in my head. I love history, particularly, the American West and I have a historical romance I am keen to write.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Answer: My motto is: You’re Never Too Old To Reach For The Stars. Stretch yourself every day. I’m following my childhood dream. Better late than never.