Q&A with Pat SimmonsOctober 9th, 2019
Q&A with Pat Simmons
1. When did you decide you wanted to be an author and what prompted this?I grew up loving books. I’ve always enjoyed writing and was motivated as a child not only by the books I read, but also by the Cadbury’s essay competition held annually in primary schools in the UK. The prizes were, of course, chocolate. I won that competition twice.
I didn’t become a full time writer until I retired from my job in children’s services in 2013. However, I began entering writer competitions and attending writing courses, festivals and workshops from 2010 and continue to do so.
2. What was your favourite childhood book?
I don’t think I had a favourite book but I loved and still love, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
3. If you could give your younger self any advice, what would it be?
Believe in yourself.
4. How did you come up with the idea for Little Spiral?
I’d always wanted to write a haiku-style picture book text. So many species on our planet are in danger but very little attention is paid to the ‘mini beasts.’ So I chose to write about a rainforest snail. I tried to do this in a non-didactic way by not mentioning land clearing and other ways in which humans impact on the environment. Also, spirals in nature fascinate me and Patrick captured many of those spirals in his illustrations.
5. How has your background and location shaped your work?
I was born in England and emigrated to Australia in 1974. I adore the landscape of both countries and have always been a ‘nature lover.’ For over twenty years I’ve worked in children’s services. I was the director of a large before and after school care centre. I worked at the Australian National Maritime Museum running children’s activities. I was a trainer of child care students and I also worked with under 5s in a day care centre. Working with children re-introduced me to children’s literature and motivated me to write for children.
6. Are there any people who you think have helped or inspired you to improve as a writer?
Oh, so many! Every time I attend a writer workshop or conference I’m inspired by the speakers. I also belong to a writers group and we meet once a fortnight. We critique each others’ work, cheer each other up when we receive rejections and motivate each other to keep writing.
7. What is your writing process?
I’d love to say that I have a rigid routine and write a thousand words each day, every day but it would be a lie! I spend an enormous amount of time thinking about what I’m going to write, mulling over ideas in my head, researching and making notes. But I must be honest and say I have no real routine. I write in ‘fits and starts.’
8. If you didn’t write what would you do instead?
That’s a great question and I really had to think about it. I’d drink a lot of coffee, read lots more than I do now, and probably become a wild-life carer.
9. What’s been your favourite feedback?
I read Little Spiral to a three year old girl at a story time event. I thought that the text would be challenging for her. She listened intently and as I turned each page she traced around the spirals with her finger. It was quite magical to watch.
10. Tell us a fun fact about yourself that nobody knows.
A few people know this but not many. As well as my beloved cats and dog, I also have 2 pet giant burrowing cockroaches (native to Queensland so I had to purchase them as I live in New South Wales). Their names are Kafka and Kim.
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