Susan Day is passionate about children's literature and wants to inspire children to follow their dreams. She created the Astro’s Adventures series and has written other titles too. Each book Susan creates encourages and promotes the wonderful art of story-telling with organic illustrations and characters that portray similar character traits that the readers’ pets share. Susan shares her country home with four dogs from the Astro’s Adventures series, Rocky, Stella, Alfie and Digger, as well as, two rescue guinea pigs, three bossy cats, a blue budgie and a very patient husband.
Brief synopsis of your book:
This fun and entertaining book, Astro is Down in the Dumps, was created to give children the skills they need to build resilience and cope with depression and anxiety.
Astro is feeling so sad and blue he can’t get out of bed. Then there’s a knock at the door… who could that be?
He is visited by his friends and each one tells him what they do when they are feeling sad. Rocky writes in his journal, Indy runs and plays outside, Stella talks to a friend, Digger eats fresh food, Dotty dances and Alfie paints. They convince Astro that there are ways of coping when you're sad and skills you can learn to help.
This book was written after personally losing a loved one and dealing with that tragic loss. It was also driven after hearing of so many youth suicides. What if these kids could became more resilient? What if they learnt coping strategies? What if they learnt these things before they became teenagers and had a skill base they could draw from when their lives seemed to be getting out of control.
There are worksheets at the back of the book for further ideas and ways of extending the skills presented in this book.
Written in verse and with stunning full-color illustrations, this book is designed so that it can be shared in the classroom and at home.
All monies raised from the sale of this book go to sending a free copy to each school and library in the country.
Astro is Down in the Dumps
What was your favorite part of writing this book?
I had a lot of fun doing the illustrations. I hope they convey the fun aspect of this book so that children remember the message in it.
What inspired your latest picture book?
This is the first book of this kind I have written. My other books are middle grade chapter books so it was a bit of a step away from them. My husband works in the field of mental health and encouraged me to do something to help children. The book’s aim is to give children simple skills they can do themselves to help them build their resilience against negative events. I chose six different things they could do and, using the fun illustrations, presented them in such a way the children could identify and understand.
What is the most difficult part of writing a picture book?
One of the most difficult parts of creating a book like this is marrying the illustrations, the content and the layout so that the book flows effortlessly. It is important that the children understand the message of the book as quickly and easily as possible.
Do you learn anything about yourself when writing for children?
I have learnt that I have a pretty zany imagination and that I love to make people laugh. I’ve also improved my typing, drawing and formatting skills, but to be honest, I don’t think they are as important as the first two point ;-)
What inspires you to write for children?
I think I have a pretty whacky imagination and children’s books allow me to explore and extend it. I love writing about dogs who can do what humans can do. It makes them seem funnier and more exciting. When the idea for Astro is Down in the Dumps was first mooted I didn’t think I could pull it off but it was such an important goal – to help children with depression – I really had to apply myself. After consultation with mental health experts, I am pleased with what I’ve produced.
What age group do you write for and which age group do you recommend this book to?
I write for children aged 6 to 12 generally but my main focus is middle grade readers of early chapter books. When I was teaching this was my favourite age group because they were young enough to still believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and old enough to enjoy a good joke.
What is the first book you remember reading that affected how you thought or felt about something?
At a young age my teacher read JRR Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” to us. I was hooked from the start. It was our reward at the end of the day if we’d done our schoolwork and behaved. She had a lovely reading voice and created voices for each of the characters.
Which three children books that were made into movies are your favorites?
1) Wind in the Willows
2) The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings
3) Astro’s Adventures – hopefully one day!
Have you ever read a book that was written for children or young adults that inspired you to do research?
As a young mother, I read my children the Beatrix Potter books. I was fascinated about her life and what inspired her to write so I read and read about her. I was very excited when the movie about her was released. Not only was she a talented author and illustrator, she was a great entrepreneur too. I think she would have relished in the Indie publishing movement today.
What helps you tell a story through rhyme?
I like to read the manuscript out loud over and over again! I also ask other people to read it too to make sure it flows well.
How old were you when you first began reading and writing?
I remember reading from a very early age. I started school in England when I was five and was well advanced by the time my family moved to Australia. However, I wrote my first book at six years of age. It was about a holiday to Ireland. I mentioned the things we saw and what we did. I must have got tired towards the end because the writing literally falls off the side of the page. Luckily for me I still have the book and it is 45 years old!
Do you have any helpful hints to inspire children to read?
I often go to schools and libraries and talk about encouraging children to read to their pet dogs. Dogs make great listeners because they don’t correct or interrupt. Often if a child is nervous or if their parents are busy, the dog makes a great reading partner.
Do you need to be anywhere special to get in the mood to write?
I’m very lucky. I can write almost anywhere and anytime. I never suffer from writer’s block either.
What are three challenges you face when writing for children?
1) Keeping concepts simple.
2) Introducing new and challenging words but knowing when to limit them too.
3) Coming up with fresh ideas that are funny – after fourteen books, believe me, this is a challenge.
Out of the books you have written which is your favorite and why?
My most favourite book is my latest one. I suppose it’s because it’s new and I’m excited about sharing it with the world. But to be honest, I love them all because in some unique way they all have something special to offer.
How have other authors helped you?
I’m a great fan of many indie authors. I know that children need to read every day and I can’t possible provide enough books myself to meet their needs so I blog, review and post children’s authors on my blog. I also love to share their work on my social networks too. I have learnt about the publishing industry and how to create quality children’s literature this way.
If you were to suggest anything to a writer who is new to writing children’s books, what would that be?
Try to step outside the box and do something different and quirky. Too many authors want to emulate their favourite work and seem to be stuck in formulas.
Do you take part in creating your book cover and other artwork? If so, what do you find the most difficult part of the process?
I illustrate all of my books and I design the book covers too. I also learnt how to format the books, add illustrations and images to enhance the overall feel. I quite like this process because it gives me more control. I’m very picky so my books are of a high standard.
What part of the writing process becomes the most critical for you?
I think editing is so important. Nothing spoils a great story than typos and errors in the plot. I really value my beta readers and friends who pour over my manuscripts picking up things here and there. It can hurt sometimes but I know they are doing me a great favour each time they find a small mistake.
If you could tell parents why you write for children what would you say?
My books cover a lot of themes about working in teams, friendships and even responsible pet ownership but to be honest the most important facet of my book is humour. If you can make someone laugh and brighten their day then you have really achieved something positive for the world.
What is the most common interview question that you dread answering and why?
I really can’t think of one. All questions seem equally valid and I enjoy responding to them.
Are there any special methods you use to teach a lesson but without preaching in your stories?
I think humor is very important and also the illustrations play an important part in teaching. I also like my readers to be able to step back and reflect on the actions of the characters, good and bad. I think even young children have a pretty good moral compass and they should be encouraged to develop it.
What is the most gratifying part of being an author of children’s books?
When you see young faces light up with the knowing that they can be authors or illustrators too.
What inspires your ideas for stories?
I am driven to create new and interesting adventures for my characters in each book.
Personal favorite info:
Color – Yellow – the brighter the better!
Snack – Chocolate
Place to visit in nature – My backyard- we live in the country, Victoria, Australia
Song – some from the Classical Baroque period
Dessert – Carmel ice cream with macadamia nuts
Charity – The Australian Animal Protection Society. I donate a percentage of my sales to this great charity.
Comedy movie – Hot fuzz but it’s not really for children
Book – Women Who Run with the Wolves
Animal – Dogs, cats, parrots – pretty much them all.
Comfort – Snuggled up in bed with a book, the dogs and the cats (for extra warmth).
How can people connect with you?
Where can readers find your books?
Hanging out on Facebook, Twitter and my blog. I create free children’s activities which I send out in a newsletter each week. If anyone is interested please go to my blog – www.susandayauthor.com
Check out Susan Day's blog and
Amazon for a wider selection of her many wonderful books!