Friday, January 24, 2014

Interview With Author Natalie Finnigan

What inspired you to write your first book?

I was inspired to write my first book by my son, Alex. He loves the Julia Donaldson books and I always enjoyed reading them, which got me used to rhyming again. First I made up some print at home books called Alex's Adventures - where I took pictures of him and his friends and adapted them with images I found on the net to make Alex into a fireman/zoo keeper/construction worker etc. By doing that I found that I was rubbish at illustration, and wrote better in rhyme than short text - but it did make the whole idea of writing a book seem a bit closer. 

When did you start considering yourself a writer?

I still don't consider myself a writer! I'm just someone who's self published a couple of books that, I feel randomly, other people don't seem to mind spending their hard earned money on. I'm primarily doing the books for Alex, but felt that as they were out there, I might as well let people know. Maybe if/when I sell hundreds of books I might consider myself a writer, but I love reading and look at some of the wonderful books out there, so maybe not. I'll never be writing a Harry Potter book, but I'm happy with what I do.

Out of the books you've written, which is your favourite?

My favourite is probably Willow's Song (hopefully being released in a couple of months). Inspired by a little girl who has a hidden illness, it's about a fairy with a broken wing - but I won't tell anyone any more for now. Out of the Alex, Dragon & Spider books, it changes from week to week. I've written 4, the 2 published and the 2 being illustrated, each have bits I love in them. I tend to write by the images in my head - with Louder Alex it was Spider's four drumsticks spinning, Fire Alex (the 4th book) it was the flaming blue balls of snot from Dragon (you'll have to read it to understand!)

How do you feel about being interviewed by a children's book character?

I'm happy to be interviewed by anyone. I think characters often come up with the more unusual questions!

That's great!

What are you working on next?

Next is "Willow's Song" and "Run Alex, Run" on the rhyming story book front. I'm also working on a longer book for 8-9 year olds, not written in rhyme, to be converted into a text that can be used to teach English as a Foreign Language. My Dad teaches and has really struggle to find books for that age range that doesn't talk down to the children - so he's asked me to give it a go. I'm only about 10% through it, though, so that will be a while before it's ready.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

This is the start of Willow's Song (I reserve the right to tweak it before it's published!) you'll have to buy the book to see what happens to Willow!:

At the bottom of the garden, where the fairy’s often flew,

A fairy princess baby was born from beads of dew,

What many people do not know, but I believe is true

Is that fairy princesses do not fly until they’re almost two.

The birth of a fairy princess was a very rare event

With lots of celebration, and lots of presents sent.

To the naming of this baby, everyone would go

To hear the King and Queen call their new child Willow.

This Willow was a beauty, both inside and out

She played and smiled and cuddled and didn’t fight or shout

She loved her brother and sister and her Mum and Dad too,

But things started changing for her, when she was almost two.

As she stretched out her wings and tried for her first flight

She felt a massive pain inside and knew things weren’t quite right.

She called out for her parents, as she was filled with fright

And they came running to her and held her through the night.

Out of your own characters, do you have a favourite?

My favourite character has to be Alex - he is, after all, my son!

Do you have any advice for other writers?

My advise to others writing is to write what you feel and what you can see inside your head. If you can't see it or feel it, you can't expect the reader to. Oh, and don't try to be too clever, it's likely that at least one of your readers is smarter than you! Finally, don't think your reader is stupid, if you've done your job well they will get the meaning behind your story, if there is one, with out over stressing the point.

What do you do when you are not writing?

When not writing my own stories I have a full time job in construction and spend time with my son. I also (occasionally) dance and (frequently) ride horses. I also do some commission work - writing other people's stories in rhyme, which is a real honour to do.

If you had to live in one of your books which book would it be?

If I had to live in one of my books, it would be the Alex, Dragon and Spider ones - to be with Alex.

What was your favourite book when you were a kid?

My favourite book as a kid was probably fairy tales or ones like the Wishing Chair - books that took you places full of colour, life and adventure. I also loved (and still do) the Narnia books.

In Hide, Alex, Hide and Louder, Alex, Louder, what inspired you to choose a dragon and a spider for Alex's friends?

Alex chose them, sort of. When he was small I made up some imaginary friends for him to play with - as he was an only child I didn't want him to be lonely and I wanted to encourage his imagination. Little Dragon came first, with elephants and sharks and dinosaurs and spider and cats and...well you get the idea...following along after. Little Dragon and the Spider were always the one's who'd come and play the most often. I've even had to hold the car door open and help little Dragon onto the sofa so he could be with us. My favourite was the time when Alex spent the whole day with Little Dragon at his childminders and played so realistically that he had his childminder in a panic that she'd lost his favourite toy when she couldn't find a dragon anywhere come home time! I did put her out of her misery...eventually.

Text for "Willow's Song" © Natalie Finnigan

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