Welcome to day 3 of the 2013 Back to School Blog Tour. Every day this week, I am posting interviews with the featured authors participating in the blog tour. There are so many excellent books this week that I invite you to visit the links and blogs of the Indie Authors this week. You may be surprised. From ebooks, middle grade novels, to picture books, you will be sure to find something for your child or classroom.
For a list and link to all the authors participating and tour giveaway, link to the Back To School Blog Tour Page here.
Today’s featured author: H.Y. Hanna
1) Who was your favorite teacher, and how did they influence your writing?
I have to admit that I had several favourite teachers – I was a real “teacher’s pet” at school! Winking smile But the one who probably influenced me the most was my English teacher in high school. His name was Mr Devlin and he was Scottish and spoke with a strong Glaswegian accent – nobody in the class understood him for the first couple of weeks, ha! ha! We were a little scared of him, I think, because he was strict and although he never raised his voice, he had a certain way of looking at you with his piercing blue eyes that made you feel absolutely awful for forgetting your homework or whatever. But it was good because he really pushed us to excel and be our best.
In my case, his biggest influence was what he wrote on my “autograph book” (don’t know if you had this convention but it was very popular when I was at school to have “autograph books” that all your friends & teachers signed with little messages, just before you left the school). Anyway, Mr Devlin wrote “The road less travelled is the one for you.” (referring to the famous Robert Frost quote, of course). Well, that made a huge impression on me and all through my life, whenever I’ve been in doubt about my choices, I’ve remembered that message he wrote and taken strength from that. And now, especially in my writing – by choosing to self-publish and especially doing middle grade, which is definitely not as easy to market as the commercial adult genres of romance and thrillers, I’m definitely choosing “the road less travelled”. Winking smile
2) What advice would you give children for the beginning of school?
I know it’s really hard but don’t give in to peer pressure. It’s really tough, especially when you’re starting at a new school (which I did a LOT since my family moved around constantly when I was a child) – and you feel terrible pressure to fit in and do everything like everyone else or listen to what the other kids tell you to do (even if you’re not comfortable doing it) – just because you want to be “liked” and be popular. It’s a cliche but it is really important to “be yourself” – and others will come to respect you in time, if you stick to your own values and beliefs. They might even start to copy you! I was one of those kids who never did things in order to “get in” with the popular gang – but that didn’t stop me making (probably less superficial) friends or having a great time at school. Yes, I got made fun of a lot at the beginning – but gradually, my classmates came to respect me for who I am.
In a way, that is one of the themes in my book, Curse of the Scarab – Book #1 of the Big Honey Dog Mysteries: the lead character, Honey the Great Dane, is torn because all her friends believe the malicious rumours about Pit Bulls and want her to join them in condemning Max the Pit Bull and accusing him of being responsible for the missing puppies. But Honey isn’t sure if she should just blindly follow gossip and judge on stereotypes – and so she has to decide whether to stand up to her friends or cave in to peer pressure.
3) Did you have any role models growing up? Who were they? Why did you admire them?
I guess a lot of my role models were my teachers, actually. I had quite a sheltered life, growing up in Dubai (the sleepy town it was 2 decades ago, not the booming tourist destination it is now) – and so I did not go out much or meet many adults. I didn’t have any extended family either. So the adults that I had the most contact with – outside of my parents – were my teachers.
I was one of those kids who really enjoyed school and loved class and loved to learn new things…and I really looked up to my teachers. As I said, I was a real teacher’s pet and always sat at the front of the class and always knew the answers. I was a regular “Herminone”. Yeah, I know – many of the other kids must have really hated me Winking smile (until they needed to copy my homework, of course!). I especially valued “knowledge” and so I admired my teachers because they all seemed to know so much more than me and were so much more worldly-wise.
4) Do you do anything to help organize your writing or inspire a story?
I like to have “visual aides” – especially of my characters. So when I start a story, I like to search for pictures online of people (or in this case, dogs) that look like my characters – the way I see them in my head. I often assemble them into a collage and print them out to stick up next to the computer, to help inspire me as I’m writing the first draft.
5) What is the kernel of wisdom you have learned about writing?
Hmm…I’m not sure I have any as important as kernels of wisdom! Winking smile I think the main I’ve learnt is that you should really just try to get something down as the first – no matter how awful you think it is – because you can’t fix anything that isn’t there. And then give yourself some time & distance away from it – and when you come back to it you might be surprised – it’s actually not as bad as you thought. Or if it is, you can see where to fix it. I got about halfway through the first draft of my book before I felt like something was wrong about it – something was nagging me – but I couldn’t quite figure out what. Then I had a forced break from it (we were doing a massive cross-country move) and when I came back to it, I realised I was going in totally the wrong direction and so I went back and re-wrote all the chapters. It was a massive job and it seemed terrible at the time, deleting vast chunks of text I’d written…but it was the right decision and made the book a much better, tighter story.
6) What other projects or books are you working on right now?
I’m working on the second book in the Big Honey Dog Mysteries which will feature Honey the Great Dane and her canine friends on new adventures – and I’m hoping to have that published around Christmas.H.Y. Hanna’s book 1 of the series , The Big Honey Dog Mysteries, launches in Sept. 2013. Curse of the Scarab will introduce you to the world Honey, the Great Dane, and her canine friends as they solve mysteries, solve riddles, and save, of course, puppies.
**For more information on H.Y. Hanna, please visit her website at: http://www.bighoneydogmysteries.com/ .
***For all of the featured author blog links and blog tour giveaway information, link to the Back to School Blog Tour 2013 Page.