In today's guest author interview we meet Tanya Sousa, you can read what she has to say below:
Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
First of all, I'm a human being who never completely understood other human beings (I spent most of my time outside with the family dog, snakes, toads, and most other wild things). This is important because it lead me to two things later in life: a) the topics I write about, which are largely human interaction with nature or dealing somehow with animals and nature, and b) Human Services professions, including a 13 year stint as a school counselor. I felt a strong desire to help people connect to the best parts of themselves (and nature when possible!) at any age.
What first inspired you to start writing?
There were multiple inspirations. First of all, I was born loving words. Rather than saying "Mommy" or "Daddy" as a first word, I came out after a bit of introspective silence with the phrase, "wait a minute." After that I took every vocabulary lesson and turned the "write a sentence using this word" homework into the chance to write silly stories. Later I discovered my mother always wanted to be a journalist -- a goal she never ended up realizing. As if that wasn't enough, my sister, 7 years my senior, had great fun writing poetry and stories in her high school English classes. I was enamored and worked hard to emulate her. As you can see, I was doomed! LOL
And what attracted you to children's fiction?
The first thing that attracted me to children's fiction was being a child and looking at books. A no-brainer perhaps? Well, it was the amazing artwork in most of them I cared about even before the words themselves -- the luscious, rich, decadent images that told their own tales even before the words made sense to me. I love writing all sorts of things, but children's picture books are special because it blends two of my greatest loves -- words AND art. If a picture is worth a thousand words, and 1000 words are worth a 1000 words, then putting both together causes more bang for the buck, right?
I also love that ideas can be shared in children's book so much easier. People are open when they read a children's book whereas they might shut down to certain ideas if they were presented in a more adult way.
Which author do you most admire and why?
I admired C.S. Lewis and Jane Austin and Walter Farely and Anne McCaffrey and Maggie Stiefvater and... too many to list. I admire new, upcoming authors who refuse to be beaten down, too.
What is your favourite word?
I have two -- Canoodling and Splendiferous
What do you find most rewarding about writing?
I adore getting lost in the creative process and having the characters suddenly take on a life of their own. It's no less than magic, isn't it? After a time they tell ME what they're going to say rather than the other way around. I also love being able to share ideas. I've been lucky enough to have people write to me or come up to me and say, "I never thought about it that way", or "That's my daughter's favorite book of all time, and that's saying something because we have a house full of books", or "We planted a garden together after reading Fairy Feast". When things like that happen, as little known as I am right now, I feel a huge sense of WOW.
And the most challenging?
Getting the books out there -- getting them seen so they sell and spread those ideas around. I've had to try doing this while working 2 and sometimes 3 jobs over the years in addition to authoring. I've recently taken the plunge and given up my more lucrative job as a school counselor to try doing this authoring and promoting full time. Wish me luck! And go to www.RadiantHen.com to buy my books if you don't want me to starve. ;-)
What are you working on at the moment?
I've just finished several picture books that are being shopped around -- and a novel that could be for adults and possibly for older kids (I can see it being used in high school to discuss social and environmental issues in our world today). The novel is called "The Starling God" and is also seeking a home. That one means so much to me that I will be willing to self publish if it doesn't land somewhere before long. The messages in there are dear to me -- I need people to hear them. I also have another novel idea that came to me in a flood as I was driving recently, and I'm ghost writing another book (nonfiction) with/for a man who had suffered a severe brain injury and survived and thrived better than anyone thought he would. The title of that one will be, "Surviving Well" and could potentially help many head injury survivors and their families. Do you see why I don't have time to have a traditional job? LOL
Tell us about your latest work and how we can find out more.
My three picture books and a nonfiction how-to book I wrote, "Can Dogs Read? Starting and Implementing a Literacy Program", can be found at www.RadiantHen.com or with their distributer, Compass Publishing. The nonfiction how-to book is about setting up reading dog programs in schools. It was originally published through tiny Cairn Terrier Publishing, but when they decided not to do any more titles, Radiant Hen decided to carry it.