Questions and Answers
Where in Kildare are you from and where did you go to school?
I grew up in Maryville in Kildare Town, I went to school in Scoil Bhride in Kildare Town.
Do you have any brothers and sisters and what is your parents’ names?
My parents are Breda and “Mockey”. My brother is Johnny, he is a Trainer on the Curragh. My sister Natasha is an SNA in a Primary School in Kildare Town.
What is your first memory of growing up?
There is a big green area in our estate and during the summer the grass grew up to our hips. Kids being kids, we would tie hundreds of knots in the grass and then we would line up and run through the grass and try to make it to the other side without tripping. If you hit a knot you would fall, and fall at full speed! It was great fun. (not something I would like try now though!) I remember it so fondly, I included it in my second children’s book.
What is your favourite restaurant?
It is so hard to pick one! The Silken Thomas in Kildare Town, I meet my aunties and cousins on a Thursday morning for breakfast and the staff are so welcoming and the service is second to none. Fallons in Kilcullen is beautiful too and I tend to go there for dinner as its not far from where I live. I work in Naas and you can’t beat Graces for a fab lunch!
What would be your ideal day?
Time is precious so spending the day with my children, whether it is simply baking, chatting in the garden. I love the beach or just a simple bicycle ride through the stud farm where we live.
Have you ever attended writing courses?
Yes. I have done two ten-week courses with the Kildare Writing Centre in Athgarvan, Pauline Clooney is a phenomenal teacher and host, her fabulous scones keep bringing me back!
Can you tell me about your work as an author?
It can be very frustrating and time consuming, lots of rewrites and time taken to work on the story and getting the word count down to 700, which is the recommended word count for the age group I write for. Seeing the story come to life through the illustrations and having a finished book in my hand is the best feeling after months and months of waiting.
The highlight is being invited to primary schools across the county and to hear children in each class say they have my first book and love it, that is very rewarding. I work part time in a law firm and have three children so I try to fit in writing when I can. I launched my second book on the 12th April 2019 so I have been very busy promoting my book with lots of events.
I will start the editing process for my third book before the summer and the process then is to send it to an editor and it will take about four or five rounds of editing before I will be happy with it and then off to the illustrator. The illustrations are done by hand so that will take several months. Once I approve the sketches, the illustrator will start the colour illustrations so any changes that need to be made are at pencil sketches stage. Once complete, the book is sent to the publisher/graphic designer to be put into book format and ISBN is obtained and copyright and then off to the printer.
Being an author is very exciting especially a childrens author, my two books are about a panda and I am now known locally as “The Panda girl” which is funny!
My goal before the end of this year is to illustrate a book for babies/toddlers, that will be exciting.
Does Ping and Po-Li have a brother or sister?
Yes, Ping has a little brother named Kai and Po-Li has an aunt and a little nephew. They have their own site, click here to find out more about them.
Where in the Asian Rainforest is the book based?
The Borneo Rainforest! And I hope to visit some day!
What is the inspiration for your book?
My children. I love to read to them and to read my very own children’s books to them is so exciting. My daughter has a fantastic idea for a children’s book, she is 9 so I can’t wait to see her story come to life.
Is it easy to write a childrens books?
Yes and no. The idea for the book came into my head very quickly and also three follow up stories for Ping and Po-Li but it took months and months to tweak the stories and to get a beginning, middle and end and to make sure that there was something happening on every page of the book and lots of waiting, so you have to be patient!
Are you writing more stories?
Yes, I have two more stories for Ping and Po-Li.
I am working on a story for children aged 8-12 and also a toddler book.
Tips on Writing
With any book, you have to figure out whose story it is, so for example if it’s a little girl you have to tell everything/show everything from her point of view, what she is thinking, feeling.
Try and ‘show’ before you ‘tell’ in your story especially for younger readers.
Start your story with action or dialog and that will help you get it started. Start at the latest point.
Keep things in dialog. Thoughts are sometimes confusing to young children.
Most childrens’ books are told in past tense, so the characters tell the story, not the author and stay in one character’s point of view.
Make sure you are true in your facts and try to be specific whenever you can. Kids love learning real stuff.
Most picture books are between 700-800 words because children have short attention spans.
You will have fun when you start writing it. I hope my suggestions will be encouraging to you and help you make your story the best it can be.