Afternoon everyone! What a beautiful day it is here in Kent – I hope you’re enjoying some sunshine too!! Today I’m delighted to welcome Eleanor Dixon on to Meet the Author. We’re chatting about inspiration, animals, ballet, what she couldn’t live with out (a woman after my own heart!), her most recent book, Tally and the Angel, and more…..
Children’s Middle Grade Fantasy
What inspired you to start writing and where do you get your ideas?
I always wrote without realising I was forming the basis for a writing career; I wrote weekly letters to my mother from the age of ten till she died. I have written a journal all my life. But it was a friend who encouraged me to ‘start writing’ when I was telling her about a scenario I had been imagining while I was out riding one day. “Write it down,” she said, and it became the basis of my first book (unpublished). My ideas are like sparks. They come from a casual word, a slight incident, or even a song. They just seem to froth up in my mind like a beer poured too fast. If I’m ever stuck while writing, I lay my head back and continue to ‘read’ my book in my mind. The ideas flow again immediately.
How many books have you written and published?
I have written four books and published two up to now. I have a further two at first draft stage that will be published this year. The first book I ever wrote was not up to publishing standards and I look at it now and cringe! But I think that’s normal for most people. I never regret the time I put into it – it was part of the learning process. My husband vanity-published my second book for me as a surprise, but as it hadn’t been edited or proof-read, I never tried marketing it.
Many years passed before bringing my first properly published book to fruition.
How long does it take you to write a book?
As I write children’s books and the word count is much lower than for adults, it takes me about three months. I then need another month to edit and improve it. I enjoy the editing – I feel as if I’ve done the hard work and having the skeleton there to work on is the best part.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I really wanted to be a vet, but my mother dissuaded me because I cried whenever I saw a dead animal on the road, and she said I was too sensitive. She had other plans for her only daughter!
But animals have always been the overriding passion in my life, and now I’m surrounded by dogs, cats, farm animals and an abundance of wildlife.
What other jobs have you done other than being an author?
My mother was unable to fulfil her own ambition to be a ballerina, as her Victorian father, a professional musician, would never allow his daughters to go on the stage. So, she was determined that I would take up the mantle. I went to ballet boarding school and danced professionally for 4 years before opening my own ballet school in Athens, Greece, which I ran successfully for 16 years.
I have also worked as a veterinary nurse (helping to assuage my desire to be a vet) and a medical rep. In my youth I had part time jobs as a kennel maid, a nanny and a rep for an ink company. In my entire chequered career, writing ticked along in the background in the form of a daily journal, letters and short stories.
Other than writing, what else do you enjoy doing?
I love being with my animals so any activity that includes them, such as walking, riding and swimming is a thumbs up for me. Living in Greece, I used to scuba dive a lot, but now my swimming is limited to the public swimming baths unless I’m abroad on holiday.
I quite enjoy gardening and cooking. Then, of course, as any writer, I love reading.
If you could give your younger writing self any advice what would it be?
I came to my writing ‘career’ very late because I didn’t have the courage of my own convictions. I would tell my younger self to learn as much about writing as I can, to seek help from tutors, editors, courses etc. and to keep writing. Don’t give up. Don’t let anyone persuade you to give up. It’s very easy now, with the internet, to find an abundance of self-help, but that didn’t exist when I was young and I had no one to encourage me. Rejections of my first attempts to get published put me off, despite the knowledge that all great writers suffer rejections. I was always at my happiest when writing – I let that slip for many years and concentrated on a lot of things that didn’t make me happy. I would tell my younger self not to let that happen!
If you could be, or meet, any mythical creature, what would you choose and why?
I would love to meet Pegasus! I love horses. I used to have my own horse and rode daily. But to have a horse that can fly! Wow! That would be so awesome. And he’s so beautiful.
What is something you can’t live without?
Pets! A world without animals is an anathema to me, and I dread being old and having to live in a care home with no pets. To spend the last years of my life without fur babies would be the worst thing that could happen. I even hate going away on holidays where they have to be left behind. And I can’t pass a dog in the street without stopping to say hello.
What is your favourite time to write, and why?
My favourite time to write is in the morning when my mind is fresh. I always take my dogs for a walk first thing and while I’m walking I’m planning my chapter for the day. Then I can’t wait to get to my office to start writing. I’ll happily write all day, but that doesn’t happen every day.
Your first published book, The Graceful Ghost, is set in a ballet school which, given your background, is fitting. But is it only aimed at ballet lovers?
Absolutely not! The book can be enjoyed by anyone. It is about friendship, taking responsibility, achieving goals and dreams, and the ballet element is kept to a very general level with any terms explained. There is humour, heartache, mystery and intrigue. One of the ghosts is a boy so, boys could enjoy reading it too, though I have to admit, it is more suited to girls. The sequel, to be released in September, is about boys at the ballet school and I hope it will attract a wider audience, whether interested in dance or not.
And finally, tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it?
My most recent release, and one I’m very excited about, is the first in a series of six books. It is called Tally and the Angel, Book One India.
On the saddest day of her life Tally discovers a pendant that had belonged to her mother is home to the Angel Jophiel. Tally knows that having her very own angel will change her life forever. Solving mysteries and having adventures with an angel in tow is awesome, right? What could go wrong? But being best friends with an angel doesn’t stop Tally from plunging into a series of dangerous adventures. Each book in the series takes Tally and Jophiel to a different location around the world, where they battle mythical creatures as well as evil of a very humankind. The books are inspired by my own travels and my fascination with traditions of angels in all cultures.
TALLY AND THE ANGEL is available on Amazon, Waterstones Online, Barnes and Noble and any bookshop to order.
Thank you so much Eleanor for coming and chatting to us! What a lovely interview (and I felt every word you said about animals and pets <3)
If you have any questions or comments for Eleanor make sure you drop a comment below, or get in touch using the links above.
Enjoy the rest of the weekend lovelies