Welcome back to Writers on Wednesday, that feature where I put my questions to a different writer each week. Please make welcome Pollyanna Darling ...
Tell us a bit about yourself …
I am a Nature-loving, introverted writer, living in a beautiful part of Australia with four kids (all boys), my partner and a couple of wily dogs. I have been writing stories since I was four years old, it's the only activity that really stuck. Everything else has passed with the seasons. I write because I love both the magic that happens in the creative process, and the Otherworld that I inhabit while I write. Imagination is a deliriously blissful place to hang out.
Tell us about your most recently published book?
Heartwood is a story about a group of forest creatures who must work together to save the heart of their ancient forest from the Smashbasher (a silver-fanged bulldozer). It is also the story of one very ordinary foreman who finds his heart in the forest. Heartwood is a first chapter book for six to nine year olds, a book I wrote partly because so many of the books my kids brought home when they were starting to read independently were relentlessly dull and uninspired. I wanted to create a lively story with humour, adventure and a strong message. As I am passionate about the natural world and the interconnectedness of all life, Heartwood is alive with the magic of Nature. Heartwood was hand-illustrated and coloured by Victorian artist, Kirsty Chalmers. We wanted beautiful pictures that speak to the imagination, to bring a book to children that would be treasured into adulthood. I think we did a great job.
Tell us about the first time you were published?
I won a writing competition at school, judged by crime writer PD James. My story was printed in the school newsletter. I can't remember it at all now!
As writer, what has been your proudest achievement so far?
I wrote a novel for my second son for his tenth birthday. I thought it would be cool to get a novel for a present, but oh the angst I went through as he read it … pacing the floors, trying not to see how far he was into the story, refraining from asking questions etc. He loved it, which made my heart sing for weeks. My first book The Relationship Revelation won a gold medal, but the thrill only lasted one day! Getting accolades is nowhere near as delightful as making another person happy, especially when that person is your child.
What books or writing projects are you currently working on, if anything?
I am editing the book I wrote for my son (truthfully I am resisting editing it). I have also been writing lots of short stories and discovering the delight of fewer words.
Which do you prefer? eBooks or Paper Books? Why?
Now there's a thorny question. I wrote a blog post about it, I'm so passionate! I am a die-hard lover of printed books. I tried over and over to complete a book on my Kindle and couldn't. I believe that reading onscreen is less engaging, a theory backed up by brain scientists. Also, electronic devices require the mining of rare earths, a brutal and expensive process that has destroyed the homes of many indigenous peoples. It is a commonly held misconception that paper books are less environmentally friendly than e-books. Well managed mixed agro-forestry stores tonnes of carbon, produces oxygen, and of course gives us paper. We can never have too many trees.
Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?
I have self-published two books and am starting to publish other writers, using a model that ensures that writers can write (instead of stuffing around with clunky back-end admin) and retain most of their profits. Having said that, I wouldn't say no to a publishing contract. Why have all your eggs on one bookshelf? I know a number of very successful authors who have a mix of both self-published and traditionally published books.
Aside from your own books, of course, what is one book that you feel everybody should read?
Anam Cara by John O'Donahue. I think it's the most beautiful book ever written in the English language. O'Donahue was a man with a lyrical poet's heart who could still write in plain English and convey the beauty of what it is to be alive.
Finally … is there anything you would like to say to your readers in Adelaide, Australia?
Hi Adelaide! It's been a long time since I visited.
Heartwood on Amazon: http://amzn.com/0987116444
The Relationship Revelation on Amazon: http://amzn.com/B005XSQ800