Welcome to Feature Friday!! It is my pleasure to have another visit from Author Suzy Davies.
1. When did you realize your passion for writing?
I had an inkling that writing would stay with me throughout my life from an early age, but in the early days writing was a source of solace and comfort. Then, I regarded it as a hobby, and, a little later, a “useful skill” to have. It was only when I was reflecting on my life that I came to realize that it was a constant thread, essential to my happiness and my place in the world. Now, I can’t imagine what my life would be like without it. It is part of me.
2. Did anyone help influence you or encourage you to pursue writing?
My late mother encouraged me when I was very young and she’s the one who read to me, and cultivated my imagination.
When I was a student at Nuneaton High School For Girls, Mrs. Pontefract asked me to read a story I had written in class. I remember being unsure and a little nervous, but she helped me to believe in myself.
Along the way, I’ve had lots of encouragement from people who have taught me and noticed my writing.
When friends and family encourage you, of course, it is so nice of them to cheer you on, but you can never regard any praise they give you as objective.
I was honored when award-winning world-acclaimed Sheila Graber told me she enjoyed my work, and now we collaborate on things together.
I’m always heartened when I hear from readers who enjoy my books. It is so helpful to authors, and it encourages them, when people take the time and trouble to review what they have written. That’s why I try to review authors’ books when I can.
“Swallows and Amazons,” by A. Ransome, and“Robinson Crusoe,” by Daniel Defoe, influenced “The Cave,” but “The Travelling Companion,” and “The Little Mermaid,” by Hans Christian Andersen, were crucial in helping me to create a young adult book with realism and magic.
3. What were some of your first story ideas?
One idea was to write a story about a dragon. I may do it yet!
4. Do you have a special writing process?
Yes, I do. I write every day. Whenever I get a good idea, I make notes, then I write from the notes. I take the notes in different directions to find the best writing path. I know when something is working because after the first page or two, it gets easier.
When I have written out the first draft of the opening chapter, I make an overall flexible structure plan, including a sense of an ending, and use it to guide me onwards.
I edit my work on separate days to writing, two chapters at a time, so that I do not have too much editing to do in the final stages.
When I have written and edited my first draft, I improve it by cutting things out or rewriting. I may go through a couple of rewrites and several edits before I do my final edit and the manuscript is ready for my editor to look at.
5. Speaking on writing in general, what are your favorite and least favorite parts?
My least favorite part is my edit before I send it to my editor. Although I edit other people’s work, and I enjoy it, I sometimes get impatient with myself. If I miss something, I don’t feel happy about it at all. I have become almost compulsive about checking things over and over again. I’m a bit of a perfectionist.
My favorite part of writing is when I get past the first page, and I experience flow. I love it, too, when the end is in sight, and I know it is all coming together as I intended.
6. What has been the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Write every day.
7. Let’s discuss your latest book, “The Cave.” Can you give us a little hint of what it’s about?
It’s an action adventure story about the Thai Cave which speaks of heroes and heroines, international cooperation, bravery, sacrifice, spiritual power and the bonds of love which brought the Wild Boar Football team safely home.
8. What was the inspiration behind “The Cave?”
I was fascinated by the story early on, and I feel that the cave journey is an inspiring story that will entertain and show young people what teamwork and leadership is all about. I knew before I started writing the story that I wanted it to be a suitable for boys and girls, and that I would embrace diversity in my tale by depicting brave, sensitive heroes and strong, feminine girls.
9. This is about a true hero and a very scary situation. Did you have any difficulties writing it?
Writing about death is difficult when you are writing for a young audience, but it is part of life. I believe in honesty. I knew that I had to honor the true hero who gave his life for the greater good.
“The Little Mermaid,” by Hans Christian Andersen, provided me with a lyrical way to describe death, that did not detract from the true hero’s altruism and valour. I think there is value in teaching kids about the life cycle. It makes it less scary. Of course, this element is a relatively small part of a much bigger story.
Yes, it was a scary situation. I was immersed in the research and wrote the manuscript day and night. It was an emotional roller-coaster. I cried when the Navy Seal died. I wept with joy when the boys and rescuers were all safe.
I am a superstitious person, and early on, I asked myself what I would do if one of the Wild Boars didn’t get out alive.
One of my characters, Jintara, the seamstress, does not sew the image of the last boy to emerge on the rainbow quilt she is making until she knows he has escaped the cave’s jaws. I think there’s a bit of my psychological make-up in her character.
10. What are your thoughts on research and did this book involve a great deal of it?
I always do research for my books. It enriches what I write. I did a great deal for this book; I read leading newspaper articles, and watched many news bulletins as the story developed on television.
I read articles about Thai Culture and Thailand to ensure the characters rang true and that the settings were right. For example, I read up on baby names, on lucky colors, on Thai birds, and what grows in Thai gardens.
I did research on Thai legends and folk tales, to weave the mystical elements into my story. This was very fruitful indeed.
Sheila Graber is the cover designer for my book. I knew the cave could have stalagmites and stalactites because as a child, I visited the Blue John Cave in The Peak District, in England. I still checked the facts about the Thai Cave interior so it felt real, and to inform Sheila before she started drawing.
I did research for all Sheila’s illustrations,(which will be in the new paperback version,) for example, I researched pictures – anything from what kinds of flowers are displayed at Buddhist shrines to diving gear worn by Navy Seals!
I was delighted to discover from my research that there are stories of“sightings” of Dulong, (mermaids,) off Thailand’s coast, but you’ll need to read my story to find out why this is so important to my tale.
11. What can we expect next from you?
I am working on another book with a mystical element, “The Blue Talisman,” about a ring with magical powers. I would like to write a re-imagining of a Hans Christian Andersen tale at some point.
12. One final question… When you aren’t busy writing, what are you often doing?
I read a great deal. Some of it is just for pleasure, but I also like to plan my reading to cultivate my writing skills so I select acclaimed authors. The rest of the time, I just relax in local coffee bars or go mall shopping. Most of all, when I have the chance, I love visiting the Florida coast. You come back reinvigorated after a breath of sea air!
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Until next time……………………………… Happy Reading!!