Please welcome Suzy Davies to my blog reading friends. Take a seat, Suzy, and we shall begin.
Please introduce yourself to those reading this blog post.
My name’s Suzy Davies, and I’m a multi genre author. I’ve written one romance novel and the rest of my books are for children and young adults. Thank you, Mary, for inviting me to be your guest.
Has writing always been part of your life and when did you “know” that it was time to start writing your first book?
I started writing when I was six years old – short stories and poems. Writing has always been something I’ve enjoyed doing. As a child, I had work published in a children’s magazine, “Pictorial Knowledge,” in the “Letters to The Editor” section. My poem, “Chess Board World,” was published in Nuneaton High School For Girls’ School Magazine. I realized people enjoyed reading my work. In the 1990s, Forward Poetry published my poems, “Crystal,” and “Love in Autumn.” However, I didn’t become a professional writer until 2014, when I wrote and published my debut novel, “Johari’s Window,” published by SilverWood Books. My very first children’s book came out in 2016, traditionally published by Snow Leopard Publishing. Getting my work published as a professional writer was a natural progression for me.
How difficult was it writing your first book?
Since my focus is on children’s books, I’ll talk about “Snugs The Snow Bear,” my first book written for kids. I was very lucky that after only 10 submissions to publishers, this book was chosen and published traditionally. Writing Snugs was like a breeze, to be honest. I think I had the first draft out in about 2 weeks. I was so excited – it felt so right! The challenge in this book was giving children insights into Green Issues without letting the facts detract from the entertainment value of the animal characters.
Have you ever wanted to give up and what stopped you?
I have never thought about giving up, really! Why would I? Writing makes me feel happy!
Who is the most supportive of you and your dream to be a writer?
There are so many people who have helped me.
Apart from my late parents who always read to me at bedtime and encouraged me to read and to write, the first person ever to help me was a teacher at Nuneaton High School For Girls called Mrs. Pontefract. She admired an essay I had written, and told me I was a talented writer. I listened to her, but I didn’t really know much about what being a writer involved. I knew I could write, and that was all. But I think it made a big impact on me at a subliminal level. I always felt confident when I had essays to write. Writing is like a continuous thread in my life – the one thing I knew early on I could do well. The writing habit carried on into adulthood, and I went from strength to strength.
Among people who have helped me recently are Helen Hart, my first publisher, who is always very positive and supportive.
Sheila Graber, award-winning world-acclaimed famous artist, (known for drawing Paddington Bear for the British Broadcasting Corporation,) animator, educator, movie-maker and writer, who collaborates with me, has compared my work in “Luna The Moon Pig” to that of Beatrix Potter. I feel honored and humbled. I’m so thrilled to be working with her. She always tells me “keep going” and I will. We often chat on the phone or via email, and we love talking about creative ideas together. We share a deep love of the sea, art, cats, education, nature in general, and books.
Laurie Shanholtzer is great fun to work with and she is very supportive of me and my writing. Working with Laurie on “Sleepy Animals” was a joy. Laurie and I both enjoy the outdoors and the wildlife we encounter very near our homes. We share a love of art, wild animals, books and travel.
I’m currently also working with a self-taught artist who creates colorful paintings and illustrations. I’m super-excited about our first book together which is top secret at the moment. Already I have discovered we have much in common – we are both David Bowie fans, love flowers and animals! She has a very upbeat approach and she creates her work, which has fabulous colors, at lightning speed! Her identity will be revealed when our upcoming young adult/children’s book is ready to be launched.
My husband, Craig, encourages and supports me a great deal. He is a very good sounding board, and listened to my “Sleepy Animals” bedtime story poems all the way through. He has great ears, and, as a writer, he knows what works.
Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
A huge thank you for your support. Thank you for reading my work.
What is the best advice given to you (book or otherwise), and by whom?
Craig, my husband, has advised me to give my writing my all, and regard it as a long-term project. I understand that this is very good advice, and that instant results never come. Hard work, focus and dedication get there in the end. A bit like the tortoise, right? I write from the heart, and I think my readers can feel that in my words.
What is your target audience and what aspect of your writing do you feel targets that audience?
For my children’s picture books, my target audience is 4-7. Children at this age are inquisitive about the world around them, and they love animals. They also like to have something to read that is simple, but with a few challenges to help them develop and grow as readers. I feel that my picture books, “Sleepy Animals,” and “Luna The Moon Pig,” match the interests and needs of my target audience.
“Snugs The Snow Bear” is aimed at middle-grade readers, and the language is more sophisticated in this book with “chapters” at just the right length to hold their attention. The world of the book has an equal emphasis on family and peer group. The green issues theme in this book ties nicely in with what children are learning. Children at this age begin to take in the wider world even more and there is less of a “me” focus. They grow increasingly curious and aware of the world around them. They are beginning to form their own opinions about things, and like to chat about what they read with their peers. My book offers them a way to engage with what is happening in the world that is non-threatening and informative. The illustrations by Peter Hall are a little more grown up than those for my picture books to reflect the ideal readership for Snugs which is 6 to 8 years.
Did the cover evolve the same way, or did you work with someone to make it come together for you?
The cover for my new picture book release, “Sleepy Animals,” is illustrated by notable artist, Laurie Shanholtzer. Laurie is a third generation artist, whose family members include the nationally recognized Vincent Maragliotti, Aunt Iris Guarducci, a Pulitzer Prize winner in portraits, and her mother, Gina Tetzlaff, a prominent New York dress designer. Laurie is former President of the Tri State Arts Association, and has been juror for numerous exhibitions in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio. Laurie presented extensive lectures and workshops including the Armand Hamer Collection, area school workshops for students and teachers, and various civic groups. She is a member of the American Society of Portrait Artists, The New York Society of Portrait Artists and the Tri State Arts Association. Laurie’s focus is now on doing what she loves most – art for children and their grown-ups. All of the pictures for “Sleepy Animals” were originally for children’s bedrooms, and they are available on Laurie’s Etsy shop site. Laurie has adapted them as the cover art and illustrations for our book. Laurie’s whimsical artwork was a great inspiration for my little animal poems which tell each wild animal’s bedtime story.
What are you working on now? Can we get a peek, an excerpt?
I’m just putting the finishing touches to another book of narrative poems called “Celebrating The Seasons.” This book is the follow-up book to “Sleepy Animals” and it is aimed at children a little older who are 7-9 years. Laurie Shanholtzer’s illustrations in pastels are wonderful! It will be coming out later on this year so look for the cover reveal!
I’m also working on a young adult story which is a reimagining of a classic fairy tale. Sorry, I can’t reveal any of my secrets about this upcoming book yet.
I continue to work on the adult novel, “The Blue Talisman” about a ring with magical powers.
Any last words before we wrap things up?
Thanks, once again, Mary. And thank you to all those lovely readers who support me and my work.