'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 29 September 2009

Interview with author Mimi King

Who is this talented person? Robyn Smith (aka Mimi King)

Where can you peruse her work? www.poppybooks.com.au

What is her story? I am a mother of five, a grandmother of eight (all of them the love of my life) and I live on the south coast of NSW. My husband and I live on a property near the township of Moruya and we own and run an earthmoving business – hence the love of bulldozers and other plant equipment and machinery.

I also spend quite a large portion of my time working as a relief teacher in primary schools. I have been a teacher for many years and it is this long association with children and children’s literature that inspired me to want to write stories for little people.

How long has she been writing? Whilst Poppy Tried to Sleep is the first book I have written, I have read thousands of books over many years to my own children and countless children at school. It is this constant exposure to children’s literature that has provided me with a very good understanding of what children enjoy and what they relate to.

What inspired her to write this book? There is nothing quite like the pleasure of seeing little faces light up as children enjoy having a good story read to them. I have wanted to write for young readers since I attended teacher’s college where I became aware of the importance of children’s literature in impacting young children’s education and their desire to learn to read.

The quality of the books to which children are exposed is a critical part of their development and the more positive the interaction they have with books, the more they seem to want to read for themselves.

As well as the educational value of children’s literature it is also good fun and I think I enjoy a good picture book as much as the children do. In that regard I have been noticing that parents and grandparents are also enjoying Poppy Tried to Sleep.

Why does she write? It is the belief that a good story, well written, can have a positive and lasting influence in children’s lives that motivates me in my writing.

What pesky obstacles has she encountered on her writing path? I guess that the biggest obstacle to my writing was the general busyness of life! The desire to write was always in the back of my mind, but it took a back seat to all the other things that filled my life. It was only when I found a little time to 'smell the roses' that I finally saw the way clear to actually put pen to paper.

Where did her book idea come from? I had lots of ideas for stories but it wasn’t until I could actually pin the ideas to a particular character that the book started to crystallise. One day as I thought of how much my husband enjoys his work I realised that this wonderful attribute could form the basis of a book and that in general, children adore their Poppies. This was a real breakthrough for me and after that I was ‘off and running’.

What is her wish for readers of her work? It is my fondest wish that my books will bring much happiness to children (and indeed adults as well). Poppy is intended to be a kind and down-to-earth character who personifies the values that parents would like to instil in their children. He is a character that is easy to relate to and whilst fun and humorous, also has a life time of experience and wisdom.

How does she think children’s literature has changed over the past decade? From my observation, there is still a lot of excellent quality in children’s literature. However, the market has also been flooded with cheap, inferior books and parents and educators need to be very discerning as they sift through the copious quantities of books.

What books did she read as a child? I tended to read the books that were popular for that time such as Heidi, Anne of Green Gables, Blinky Bill, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie and The Magic Pudding.

What are some of her favourite children’s books?
I Love you Blue Kangaroo
Wombat Stew
Caps for Sale
The Kiss that Missed

If she couldn’t be a writer what would she be? I think at this time in my life if I couldn’t be a writer I would be a dabbler, dabbling in lots of new and different things. I think I would start with learning how to do my scrap booking electronically. Graphic design appeals to me but I’m not sure how I would manage with my limited computer skills.

Who is she in five words? Sociable, kind, maternal, creative and enthusiastic.

What fabulous advice does she have for other writers wanting to publish a book? If writing is something you want to do, the important thing is just to get started. I think this can be one of the biggest hurdles.

If you would like to learn about more about Poppy's adventures, visit www.poppybooks.com.au where you can purchase a copy of the book, and find a sing-a-long and a colouring competition.

See a review of Poppy Tried to Sleep here.