Friday, January 10, 2020

Author Spotlight - Regan W. H. Macaulay on her award-winning book Tamara Turtle’s Life So Far

HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?  I volunteer with the Toronto Humane Society, and when I was working to enrich the animals in the Special Species Department, I noticed that all the turtles (and they were all Red-eared Sliders at the time) had a great deal of trouble getting adopted.  Some had already been there for a year or more (there are some there still since the book was published), and though THS has created wonderful habitats for them to thrive in during their stay there, it’s not the same as having a permanent home.  I wanted to create a story that would teach kids and their parents about the responsibility and commitment involved in caring for a pet like this, and if they determine they can properly look after a turtle its whole life, to adopt one that really needs a home.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY?  I like when one of my Painted turtle characters explains the following to Tamara when she finds herself in Painted turtle territory:  “When the wrong kind of animal is in the wrong place, it throws everything off.  Painted turtles could disappear, and too many Red-eared Sliders would take their place.” I think this is a good way of introducing the idea of invasive species and the problems they cause to young children who may not have thought about that kind of thing before.

WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE IS MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY?  Well, I will go ahead and choose one of the human characters, since I am not a turtle (and I don’t face the same challenges pet turtles do), and that would be the Herpetologist who adopts Tamara and her Red-eared Slider friend Apple.  I am not a professional Herpetologist, but if I wasn’t a writer and had to choose another career, Herpetology would be high on my list!

WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?  For parents (and children, once they’ve reached an age where they can make the decision to adopt their own pets) to realize that Red-eared Slider turtles, and really any pet turtle or pet reptile, is a high maintenance, high commitment pet.  They need to do their research before adopting this kind of animal (and adoption is often more helpful than shopping—it’s not just for cats and dogs!) and make an informed decision based on their lifestyle, and the costs and effort involved.  A turtle should never be an impulse purchase.  They need a well-equipped forever home.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER?  I’ve been writing ever since I was six years old, but meeting Emily Hearn, when she came to my public school as a guest instructor while I was in 6th Grade, was probably my biggest inspiration, particularly with respect to picture books.  I wrote and illustrated a picture book I called “Down, Out and Around for Beverley” as my assignment for that class, and a many times revised version of this book later became my first published picture storybook “Beverlee Beaz the Brown Burmese.” 

WHO HAS HAD THE GREATEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR WRITING STYLE? E. B. White, A. A. Milne, J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling and dozens of others have had an influence on my writing, but I feel that I’m finding my own voice.  All the styles I’ve read over my lifetime have influenced my writing.  It’s all those authors in one great big globule!  

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR WRITING PROCESS: Sometimes I sit down with a notebook to brainstorm, other times I have to go on a long walk to get the ideas flowing.  For the first draft, I try to let the ideas flow freely, without judging—I save that for the revisions later.  I’ll often create a schedule for myself, setting up a certain number of chapters on certain days (usually every other day, so I have breaks in between).

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST CHALLENGE AS A WRITER?  Perhaps learning the business end of things—sustaining writing as a career, whether it’s part-time or full-time, the marketing and promotion involved, all that stuff.  There are plenty of creative challenges, but getting myself out there and making a real go of it is what I’m personally finding to be the biggest challenge.  Writing and revising the stories is the fun and more natural part of it for me.  There’s a big learning curve on the business end of it, as far as I’m concerned.

IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE?  I would love to be compared to any of the authors who have influenced and inspired me.  One reader mentioned they were reminded of "The Hobbit”and "Lord of the Rings" with one of my picture books (“Sloth the Lazy Dragon”), so that’s obviously very cool!

HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED?  I kept submitting (to publishers).  With the advent of print-on-demand, giving independent and smaller publishers a chance to flourish, I was able to find homes for my books with publishers willing to take a chance on me.  

CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK?  I recommend promoting any awards with the use of award-seals.  Use them on your cover and on your promotional material.  Not only does having a publisher or agent give you a bit of an edge or cache, so will award-seals.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?  So far, getting my first book published.  I think there’s much more to come.  I really feel like I’m still in the beginning chapters of my writing career.

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS?  I hope to continue winning awards and getting reviews from various prestigious sources (including Literary Classics, of course!), but I also want to grow a big ol’ wide readership in both my children’s writing and my genre literature for adult readers.  It would be wonderful to get something adapted to the screen (big or small), particularly the middle-grade chapter book series I’m working on.  Most of all, I would like to be able to earn a part-time income (minimum) and keep on writing until I’m dead! 

TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY MIGHT FIND INTERESTING:  I am also a Certified Canine and Feline Massage Therapist—I run a small mobile business called Kuri K9 Massage.


Sloth the Lazy Dragon” (a Literary Classics Seal of Approval Honoree)

DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?  Yes.  I expect to publish another picture book next year called “Libby the Lobivia Jajoiana” with Mirror World Publishing (this one is co-written with my husband, Kevin Risk, and we have Gordon Bagshaw on board as our absolutely AMAZING illustrator).  I am also working on a series of middle-grade chapters books, which I am currently finding a home for.  And future picture books and novels are rattling around in my mind, naturally.

You’ll find “Libby the Lobivia Jajoiana” on Mirror World Publishing’s website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all the usual places probably around the Fall of 2020.  

LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval

No comments:

Post a Comment