I’ve got something new for you this week: romance and children’s author Suzy Davis talks to me about her work and how she creates her innovative concepts.
Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards being an author?
I define my writing style from what readers tell me. Most people describe it as lyrical. I have always had a strong interest in writing, which is a continuous thread in my life. Writing gives me a great deal of pleasure. To be able to write full time is a lifelong dream and passion fulfilled.
Please tell me more about your background and how you came to be a full time writer.
I come from a dual nationality family, and was exposed to different cultures and languages right from an early age. My early childhood was filled with a richness of experiences. My parents knew that these experiences were more important than material things.
I remember that we spent a lot of time among nature, and by the sea. To this day, I am at my happiest walking along a beach, by a lake or river, or through a wood, communing with nature. Nature is a great teacher, and shows what is important in life. It connects us to our home – The Earth.
My parents were both artists and potters. When I tried to paint I had a reasonable sense of color, but could not draw that well. I started writing things at the age of six. It became a habit, and my hobby became a vocation later on in life.
Talk me through your books. Why do you believe they have become so popular?
I think of my books as different sides of my personality. Johari’s Window has the feel of night about it – it’s very dark in places. People have told me it is sophisticated, but I don’t see that myself. People seem to like the intrigue. It tells the story of a writer, and explores the different kinds of love and romance in life. It is set in England, The Czech Republic and South Korea.
Pablo Neruda’s poem, Every Day You Play, inspired the whole feel of the Korean chapters, and the imagery I used in my book. I am a big fan of the work of Virginia Woolf and James Joyce. Their portrayal of artist/writer figures influenced this book.
Snugs The Snow Bear is an adventure tale for kids, with a green message about Climate Change. The characters are fun, and the scenes hark back to some of my childhood memories in seaside towns in England and Wales. The whole feel of the book is playful and light. I drew on elements of people I have known to create the characters, and the rest was my imagination. I have to say, I am very pleased with this book.
I think people love the main character, Snugs, who is a super cute hero. Of course, I was inspired by Michael Bond’s A Bear Called Paddington in particular! I was born in Reading, Berkshire, and Bond also had connections in the area, so I identified with his bear very early on.
Bond has mentioned that his idea of a “lost” bear was influenced by the wartime refugees he used to see at Paddington station. I have taught refugees, and agree that displacement does make people feel “lost” and yearn for “home.”
My book, Snugs The Snow Bear, although it has a happy ending, hints at the reality of “climate refugees” – and in fact Snugs is rescued when he drifts away from his home in Greenland on a fast-melting iceberg.
Briggs’ magical tale of The Snowman, an allegory for death, dying and loss, also paved the way for my message about Global Warming and the dying planet. I am optimistic that it is not too late to avert disaster, provided that we start children young, and teach them how to reduce our carbon footprint.
The magic of flight and the enchanting snow scenes in The Snowman inspired the chapter, “Two Moose, A Bear, And A Sled” in Snugs The Snow Bear, and the creation of the magical Two Moose, who take Snugs on a magical sled ride through the snow on The Isle of Wight during the winter festive season. Elisabeth Beresford’s The Wombles paved the way for a kids’ book with a conscience about the environment, too. She was a visionary!
I still adore Winnie The Pooh! The homespun philosophy of A.A.Milne has inspired me to craft characters that are emotionally intelligent and “feel” the world around them. The work of Milne, in particular, taught me how to craft the voices of my characters, and how to give my book a timeless quality.
Where do you find your inspiration? Are there any particular places or incidents you draw on when you find yourself with writer’s block?
I am inspired by the everyday as well as experiences when I am on vacation. I draw on what I know. A lot of luck comes into it, too. If I hadn’t ever lived in South Korea, I would never have experienced the beauty of Cherry Blossom Season, so crucial to Johari’s Window.
I had a similar stroke of luck with Snugs The Snow Bear. Who would have thought that I would live a stone’s throw from a view across the ocean of “The Isle of Wight Polar Bear,” the iconic British landmark, which inspired Snugs’ story. The beautiful coastline in the Bournemouth area in Dorset is unforgettable, and even today (I now live in Florida,) I can see it all clearly in my mind’s eye. Of course, one needs to be resourceful. With a little bit of imagination, almost anything can inspire you and motivate you to write.
If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?
The only collaboration I like is with editors, illustrators and publishers. I don’t want to co-write anything. The joy of writing is finding your own unique voice. For me, collaboration between novelists or children’s authors would interfere with both writers’ artistic integrity.
If someone wanted to write a song or screenplay, create an animation of my stories or write a musical in collaboration with me, that might be different. Different areas of expertise complement one another and add to the end result.
For instance, I am a huge fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats musical, which drew on the poems of T.S Eliot. Sheila Graber animated the original Paddington Bear by Michael Bond, and animated Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories, and I admire her work a great deal.
Do you have any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?
I may have a few things in the pipeline, but if I talk about them now it’ll spoil the surprise!
Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to coming up?
I’m always looking out for new writers. There are so many. Too many to mention here. I like to review new writers’ books. This generation of readers will be the next generation of writers. I hope there will be a lot of good writers.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I’d like to thank you for this opportunity, and thank all my readers for their support.
Thanks Suzy for the interview, it’s great to hear your thoughts.