Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I am the founder of an Australian charity called NSW Hen Rescue. We rescue, rehabilitate and rehome factory farmed hens and other animals. I believe being kind to people and animals is just about the most important thing you can do. That is why I’m vegan and that is why I hope to inspire other people to take action for the things they believe in.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Amanda the Teen Activist – Feathers and Freedom was inspired by my work in animal rescue. I wanted to tell the story of the caged hens I have rescued and the story of those who try to help them. I wanted to inspire compassion and kindness in young people.
The main character of Amanda Cotter was inspired by my older sister Amanda Smith. When she was 6 years old she contracted chicken pox and became severely mentally and physically disabled. She never got to experience her teenage years the way most people do. Amanda was a cheeky little tyke as a child and imagining her as a healthy 13 year old activist was so much fun. The book was written for Amanda and I hope she loves it when it is read to her.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I am easily distracted so I usually turn off the Internet so I can’t check social media. I then set a timer for 25 minutes and just write. I don’t overthink it. After all, I can always edit later and I do… a lot. After 25 minutes I let myself have a 5 minute break if I want or if I have a great flow I just keep going. I have a post it on my wall which says, ‘done is better than perfect’. Otherwise I tend to get caught up trying to make things just right first time. I have learned that for me getting the story out is the best way and then lots of editing. Oh and I eat a whole lot of chocolate whilst writing.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Judi Curtin is the best selling author who writes the Alice and Megan children’s book series. I listened to all those books on Audible and loved the tone and style of her writing. Jacqueline Wilson’s books are such fun to read but also cover serious issues. As a kid I loved series books like The Saddle Club and Animal Ark. I have always enjoyed Roald Dahl’s writing (especially The Magic Finger) and as far as books for adults, I love the escapism of chick lit. The Confessions of a Shopaholic series is one of my favourites. I like a conversational style of writing where you feel like you are friends with the protagonist.
What are you working on now?
Amanda the Teen Activist – Feathers & Freedom is out now and I am just about to get started on the next book in the series. Each book in the series will see Amanda tackling a different form of animal cruelty. In the next book there will be a focus on animal experimentation. Amanda will be expanding her activism and probably getting into a whole lot more trouble.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I am promoting my books via my website http://amandateenactivist.com and my facebook page http://facebook.com/amandateenactivist. I am also working on a new blog http://theanimals.org.au aimed at young people with lots of ideas on how to get active for animals.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
I am a new author myself so I say just go for it. Don’t get stuck on trying to be perfect. Just write.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
When it comes to your first draft done is better than perfect.
What are you reading now?
I always have a few books on the go. I am reading The Wish List by Jane Costello. Re-reading Alice Next Door by Judi Curtin and a non-fiction book Vegan Ventures by Katrina Fox.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I am looking forward to finding out what Amanda the Teen Activist is going to get up to next.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
Animal Liberation – Peter Singer
The Magic Finger – Roald Dahl
Confessions of a Shopaholic – Sophie Kinsella – What?! I’ll need something to take my mind off the whole being trapped on a desert island thing.
Catherine Kelaher’s Social Media Links