Welcome back. Here is the first of many author interviews to come on The Ranting Bookworm. This interview post will be a bit more explanatory than future posts, but after I’ve gotten some of my views out of the way I promise to be more to the point the next time I interview someone. The views I plan to discuss will be things such as why this is a genre I enjoy reading & how I feel a review should be written. I’ll also share cover art & synopsis to the books I discuss whenever possible. This post is a little long, but I believe you’ll find it enjoyable. So, sit back, relax, & grab a nice cup of coffee, tea, or whatever you enjoy drinking while reading.
Today’s interview will be with the fabulous children’s author Mr. Paul G. Day. Recently I got the privileged to read & review his first Black Fairy book called The Black Fairy & The Dragonfly. I love a good children’s book every now & then, I know it sounds crazy, why would a 36 year old woman with no kids of her own read literature written for such a young audience? Why not? I think everyone should have a little fun & get in touch with their inner child from time to time. At the very least reading such books can bring a smile to your face & beautiful memories of yesteryear. Even though I’ve only read the 1st book in the Black Fairy duo I’ve nothing but good words for the series & I can already tell I’m going to enjoy it’s sequel & final chapter, Escape From The Dark Queen.
Now lets dive into my review of Mr. Day’s book, The Black Fairy & The Dragonfly. My belief is that a review should simply be: what type of book it is (genre), whether I liked it, pros & cons of the story, would I read it again, & whether I’d suggest it to others. I believe it’s alright to occasionally bring up various events in the story, but only if I think it will help draw in readers. It’s best to keep the plot & details vague. The point of a review is to help others decide if they want to read the book, by no means is it appropriate to rehash the story as if it were a book report, possibly ruining surprises for those who have yet to read it.
The Ranting Bookworm’s Review of: The Black Fairy & The Dragonfly
The Black Fairy & The Dragonfly is a beautiful fast paced children’s story that’s great for both young & old. This could probably be considered a middle grade book, but honestly, its beauty could be enjoyed by all ages, 1-101. Like an old-school fable it carries a valuable lesson that every child should know, that being different doesn’t mean you’re less, yet it doesn’t talk down to the more mature readers. The story concludes with a suspenseful & massive cliffhanger. To quench your appetite & ease your mind the author concludes this beautiful story in his sequel, Escape From The Dark Queen. Though the second book resolves the cliffhanger at the end of this story, it’s not a requirement for the full enjoyment of book one. I did feel the book could have benefited from a few illustrations to compliment Mr. Paul Day’s lovely narrative. Still, the lack of illustrations did not take away from the story. I see this being a great bedside read for a child, I know I would have loved having this read to me at night when I was young & so I will do the same if I am ever blessed with kids. I will definitely reread this story anytime I want a quick read & a smile.
When Lilly is shunned by her own kind, the little black fairy embarks on a journey to find her true purpose. Along the way she forges an unusual friendship with a dragonfly and an enduring alliance with the Dragonfly Kingdom. This is a story full of wonder, adventure and even danger. When all the other fairies suddenly vanish, leaving no trace behind, Lilly is forced to face her past and confront an unseen evil. If she is to triumph, she will need to draw on a rare magic hidden deep within. Only then can she rescue the fairies, destroy evil and restore the kingdom.
The following is the Author Interview As Promised
(TRB=the Ranting Bookworm aka Jolene, PGD=Paul G. Day)
- TRB: I read your first book in your Black fairy series called The Black Fairy & The Dragonfly & I loved it. It’s obviously a great little book that can be appreciated by both young & old. Still, I was curious as to what your inspiration was for writing a book about fairy’s?
PGB: The story started out as a poem on a writing group I belong to called Writers Network. After writing that I thought it would make a good story, so I wrote the first book back in 2012. After putting a few chapters online, the comments I got was so encouraging I decided to publish it. From there the book underwent several revisions until now, happily it is finished. The story was inspired, in part, by my own experiences growing up in a large family and feeling unwanted. But the story is influenced by what I have observed in society and our ideas about what evil is and the nature and beauty and magic of life.
- TRB: I noticed a great deal of your books,including The Black Fairy & The Dragonfly, are targeted primarily at children. That obviously doesn’t mean they can’t be enjoyed by more than that target age group, but I was curious why you chose this as your primary group or whether it was just a happy accident?
PGD: Well, I have been a teacher for more than a decade. I am one of nine children and I have two grown children of my own. I have also worked with young people in youth groups for much of my adult life. So it seemed perfectly natural to me to want to write for children and young adults. But it wasn’t until I began studying writing for children at university that I realized it was a calling. I am also writing for adults, but it is children who I am most comfortable writing for.
- TRB:When writing a book like The Black Fairy & The Dragonfly do you start out with the aim to teach a lesson, like the one I felt I found in it (being different doesn’t make you less), or does it just happen organically?
PGB: Not necessarily. I write instinctively. Allowing the story to unfold naturally and that includes any lessons that may be subconsciously embedded. Having said that, I think that lessons or teaching lessons is part of who I am as a teacher, so naturally it will find its way into my writing. It’s not overt, but it is there and even I am surprised sometimes at how important those lessons turn out to be. Once I recognize there is a lesson in the story, I do refer back to it, but in the most subtle ways possible. The story is the focus, but the lesson is up to the child reading the story to learn for themselves. I think writing is ten percent skill and ninety percent instinct.
- TRB: I’m getting ready to read your second book in you Black Fairy series called The Black Fairy & The Dragonfly: Escape From The Dark Queen. I’m very excited to read what happens next to our kindhearted, but strong little heroine. Still, I can’t help but jump the gun & ask if we should expect a 3rd book about our favorite little Black Fairy?
PGB: Not a third in this series, but this story is connected to another different story called The Last Boy Fairy. I plan on writing a new series where the worlds of both characters come together to form a unique story. There was always only going to be two books in the Black Fairy series as it is, unfortunately.
I have loved writing this series and I adore Lily and the other characters. I believe, more than any other book or series I have written, that this one would make a great feature animated film. It is also this series which has solicited the best responses from readers and whether they are 8 or 88, they all love it the same.
- TRB: I’ve checked out your Goodreads page & have noticed that it appears you have a couple books that are directed at perhaps an older audience, can you tell us a little bit about them & why you stepped away from your usual audience?
PGB: Let me just make the point here that I haven’t really “stepped away” as you put it, more like branched out to other ages and genres. I always like to test myself and write in multiple genres and for multiple ages, just to keep things interesting and experiment with writing. However, though my style may change, the stories themselves follow very similar paths of thought and if you were to deconstruct my stories, they are, at their heart, the same stories about loneliness, isolation, coming of age etc.
Now having said that, I had wanted to write stories for older readers for quite some time. I actually wrote one called The Girl Who Kept Secrets for older readers, but have shelved it for the time being while I give it considered thought. In the meantime, I am writing two sequels to Star Child and another separate series for older readers called Children of Mars. But my long term project and the one with the most detail and pages, is my upcoming novel, The Four Edged Sword, aimed at adult readers. It’s an epic in every sense of the word. It has detailed maps unlike anything else you will see (find them at this link: https://www.behance.net/gallery/16264853/The-World-of-BenEden
) as well as a highly developed world with lots of different characters, including dragons.
- TRB: Now lets get slightly more personal & see if we can’t discover a little bit about Paul G. Day & who he is as an author & every day man. First, how long have you been writing & did you have a parent or teacher in your past that inspired you to follow your writing ambitions?
PGB: I started writing more than a decade ago, but it took a long time before I had the confidence to publish. I was inspired by my English teachers at school, but it was at university that my lecturer Jeri Kroll (herself also an author) encouraged me to explore writing for publication. As a youngster I was in love with stories and I have what you might call a constant internal narrative every day of my life.
- TRB: Who is your literary hero?
PGB: There are a few actually. Arthur C Clarke, for the detail in his work, Tolkien for his observations about society and the human family as well as the corrupting influence of power and Isaac Asimov for his vision of our future. I can add a new one here, New Zealand born author, Russell Kirkpatrick, whose highly detailed maps in his fantasy series inspired me to write The Four Edged Sword.
- TRB: I know I remember the first series of books that helped fan the flames of my book obsession (BTW, it was Bunnicula By: James Howe & the Choose Your Own Adventures, LOL), but do you remember what book or books you read as a child that made you fall in love with reading?
PGB: The first book I remember loving enough to remember was The Loaded Dog, based on a poem by Henry Lawson. The first novels I loved was I Can Jump Puddles. I was also very much inspired by the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and David Copperfield, which also inspired me enough to write my own adventure series, Kipp The Copper Coast Kid.
- TRB: I find most authors & writers in general have items that I refer to as comfort items that help them sit down & get in the mood to write or perhaps not get in the mood, but that they just can’t write without having by their side. I know I have to have some good instrumental music & a chai tea helps. Do you have anything like this that you do as a bit of a ritual or habit when writing? (music, picture, food, tea, coffee, a pet, etc…)
PGB: Oh yes, but being a fifty year old male I am almost ashamed to admit that I have a collection of toys like Bears, robots etc. I only started collecting them as models for characters in my stories, but my wife thinks I like them a little too much. Lol. All jokes aside, they are part of the inspiration, but it is the children I teach and the people around me that provide the greater portion of inspiration.
- TRB: How often do you write? Is it a daily passion or does the urge come & go?
PGB: I would like to say it is a daily passion, but that is too simplistic. I said earlier I write on instinct. If the inspiration doesn’t come, I simply don’t write. I write best when I am inspired enough to write and keep on writing until I am too tired and forced to sleep. Then, for several days at a stretch I think of nothing but the story and writing becomes my number one obsession, almost to the exclusion of everything else. I’m blessed with an understanding wife who largely lets me go until I come back to the real world again.
- TRB: I read that you’re a teacher, if you don’t mind me asking, what kind of teacher are you & how do you find the time to write while shaping minds?
PGB: I am a qualified Drama Teacher with many years experience. I found it hard to do that and write, but I still found time. But, because I am no longer permanent (I am now a relief teacher working part time) I have much more free time on my hands and am really producing a lot of books. In my time teaching Drama I was responsible for many school and community productions and they helped me immensely with my writing as well. I love that you said “shaping minds” because even though I teach perhaps 2 or 3 days a week only now, I still take it very seriously, though I try to have a lot of fun with the kids I teach.
- TRB: Do you have any hobbies aside from writing & reading?
PGB: I love to go camping and my daughter and I like to make films together. My wife and I are slowly renovating our country cottage and property so there is plenty to keep us both busy.
- TRB: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers that you would like to share that you never got, but looking back could have used or liked?
PGB: My advice to anyone who aspires to be a writer is to simply write. Write often, write in different forms other than prose. Poetry teaches you the art and beauty of language. Those who can write good poetry can generally write very well. As I said before, writing is ten percent skill and ninety percent instinct, so don’t force your story out, rather let it come out as you write.
- TRB: Now I’m still getting use to the whole eReader thing & still prefer the good old fashioned physical version of a book over an electronic version (that doesn’t mean I don’t read eBooks), still, how do you like the new world of eReaders? Is this something you have fallen in love with or do you still prefer the physical version of books? And has the eReader world helped you as a author in anyway that physical books can’t?
PGB: It’s an enigma for me. I find it exciting and at the same time strangely bewildering. I actually still prefer a good, physical book in my hand, yet eReaders are so versatile and can hold whole libraries and their portability cannot be denied. I think things will swing around the other way after a decade or so, like they have with vinyl records. In our insatiable appetite for technology, however, we have forgotten that reading is an organic thing and that has been lost a little. Having said that, eReaders are here to stay and whether we like it or not, we must absolutely accept and embrace them.
- TRB: I believe I have taken up enough of your time, but to end this I would like to ask you if there is anything about yourself, that I haven’t already asked, that you would love to share? (like: where you’re from, pets, family, etc…)
PGB: I would love to say that my own personal struggles, identity and journey are very much reflected in my work. My books are full of subtle references to my upbringing, my thought processes and personality, as well as those around me. This is the only way to write and how I always approach it. Otherwise my books would be lifeless and devoid of a soul.
Thanks so much Jolene for this fantastic opportunity and for your great questions. Answering them has given me pause to reflect on how far I have come and where I am heading.
Thank you for joining us. If I’ve failed to cover something in the interview please feel free to post your questions in the comments box below & we’ll happily answer what we can. I am also always open to suggestions & observations about my posts. Until next time, Live, Love & Laugh 😉