Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I always knew I had a unique take on life, but it wasn’t until I was 18 that I was diagnosed with Aspergers – an autistic spectrum disorder. Consequently, my early schooling was a disaster and I was home-schooled from around the age of 7.
I wrote my first children’s book at 14, when I began to struggle with depression and anxiety. As I have always understood animals much better than people, it’s no surprise that my story revolved around them. In fact, the story is told through the eyes of the huskies and wolves involved. My heightened senses of smell and hearing help me to understand the way dogs, and thus wolves, are affected by these.
Bonus Trivia – I can smell colours (How cool is that?)
This book, ‘Akea – The Power of Destiny’, was published in 2017, around the same time as my autism diagnosis. It’s unique perspective draws the reader in and bonds them to the main husky character, Akea. I have been really encouraged by many adult readers comments and reviews, as well as those by children.
I have been working on the sequel to this first book, and hope to have it published by the end of this year – 2019.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
‘Akea – The Power of Destiny’ came about purely by accident. I’m very much a visual person and I like to work with an image of my character in front of me, rather than from a written character profile.
I was searching the internet for the image of a dalmatian with a husky. It was supposed to be for a dalmatian led story I was working on, but when I finally found a photo of the two dog breeds together, it was the husky who told me her life story. This is the story that became ‘Akea – The Power of Destiny’, and the dalmatian story was never written.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I am a compulsive multi-tasker. I am usually writing on one device, researching on another, and watching You-Tube videos all at the same time. I am also writing a series of adventures for ‘Akea’, but not in consecutive order. Even I can’t work out how I can start writing book 5 before I have finished book 4.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
To be honest, I can’t think of any that have actually influenced me. The main books I was reading around the time I started writing were the Animal Ark series by Lucy Daniels. As far as I can tell, the only thing these have in common with my books is the presence of animals.
It feels more like my books are already written in my head, and my brain is just trying to connect with my consciousness, so they can be written down.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on the follow up story to ‘Akea – The Power of Destiny’, although it can also be enjoyed as a standalone. ‘Akea – The Power of Destiny’ followed Akea’s dramatic journey from sled dog to wolf queen. My work in progress, ‘Akea – His Mother’s Son’, follows both her hybrid son, Salvador, after his capture by humans, and Akea as she and her pack face an attack from neighbouring wolves. Salvador discovers he is as unique as his mother, and must rely on his ‘gift’ to unite them in time.
Although the manuscript is finished, I am still waiting for some of the illustrations that will precede each chapter. There is the unenviable task of cover design etc still to do, but I am confident it will be ready for publication by the end of the year.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
As someone with autism, I find book promotion an even bigger challenge than most authors. I do what I can with my website and blog. With support, I have approached several independent bookshops who are now stocking my first book, as well as Amazon (UK & US), and social media has also proven useful.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Write first, edit second. If you try to do both at the same time you may lose the flow. Nothing is ever perfect first time round, so don’t expect perfection from yourself.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Don’t worry about the spelling, punctuation or handwriting. Just get the story down first and pick these up in the edit.
What are you reading now?
Aside from reading up on my dog breeds – nothing! I’ve taken some time out to support my mental health. I’m not very good at balancing writing and life in general, so I’ve started a veggie patch to get me out in the fresh air and sunshine in a productive way.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I’m working on the next 4 stories for Akea, and experimenting with new genres and what may be my first people based story.
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?
Something by Gene Rodenberry, Erin Hunter, and Brian Jacques.