Welcome to the six hundred and twentieth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with children’s author and novelist Debbie Dadey. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Debbie. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Debbie: Hi, I live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania near Philadelphia. As a lifelong reader, teacher, and librarian I was one of those people who said “I could write something better than that!” Wow, what a learning experience that turned out to be. It’s definitely not as easy as I thought!
Morgen: I kind of thought like that, and eight years later I only now feel that I know what I’m doing (although we all keep learning). You write children’s books, was there a reason to choose this genre?
Debbie: I was an elementary teacher and then a librarian. My favourite part of the day was reading books aloud. They are so fun to read and write!
Morgen: And I’m sure the children loved hearing them. If I’d gone into teaching (I’d thought about it) I would have taught primary / elementary. What have you had published to-date?
Debbie: I have been fortunate to publish 10 series, mostly with Scholastic. My first series was The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids, which I co-authored with Marcia Thornton Jones. The first title was Vampires Don’t Wear Polka Dots. Marcia and I have written several series together, but I’ve also written solo titles on my own, as well as series. My most recent series, Mermaid Tales, is with Simon and Schuster. The first two titles are Trouble at Trident Academy and Battle of the Best Friends. I have also co-authored two books with my son. My daughter and I have been working on a story together.
Morgen: It must be great fun to collaborate with some you’re close to. I have writing friends but never written anything with them… now there’s a thought. I mentioned primary school, what age group do you write for?
Debbie: I have written a couple of picture books and novels, but the bulk of my work has been for the chapter book level-usually second through fourth graders.
Morgen: Do you think it’s easier writing for children than adults?
Debbie: No, sometimes it’s harder because you must use fewer words to tell the story.
Morgen: Like flash fiction. Do you get a second opinion on your stories before they’re published – if so from adults, children or both?
Debbie: Yes, I belong to a critique group who gives me excellent feedback. I rewrite from that and then my agent gives me suggestions. I rewrite from that. And if I’m lucky, the editor will give me comments and I rewrite from that! I often ask my own children what they think and they are tough on me!
Morgen: My mother’s the same with me. Do you have any tips for anyone thinking about writing for children?
Debbie: You must love to write and you must love children’s stories enough that you would do it for free. Because, often that is the case!
Morgen: But it sounds as if you love writing. Are your books available as eBooks? How involved were you in that process? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Debbie: My new series, Mermaid Tales, is available on eBooks and I wish all my books were. I think children are more comfortable with ebooks than we are as adults. I definitely prefer paper, but my husband loves technology and passed his own Kindle on to me. I must admit it is handy for trips. Instead of lugging five books, I can drop the Kindle into my purse. I was not involved in the process, as that is the publisher’s choice. However, I am actively involved in getting my out-of-print titles back in print as eBooks through a company called StarWalk Kids.
Morgen: It’s a good idea; eBooks are quickly outselling paper. Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Debbie: I must admit that Eddie of The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids is a favourite. He is a good kid, but just can’t help getting into mischief. I was looking at a cover of Mrs. Jeepers Is Missing (there are 51 numbered and more Specials) and thought how perfect Angelina Jolie would be as the vampire teacher, Mrs. Jeepers!
Morgen: That I can imagine. Mischief is fun, and very appealing to children of any age. Did you have any say in the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Debbie: They are extremely important in any genre, but especially in children’s books. Unfortunately, most authors have little or no say in the covers if they are published by a traditional publisher.
Morgen: That’s very true, and I know some authors who have had to market books with covers they really don’t care for, which is really hard, but you have to hope that the publisher knows what it’s doing. What are you working on at the moment / next?