Renee Taprell is an Aspiring Children's Author, Storyteller, and Early Childhood Teacher. Renee shares her passion for picture books and tips for writing for children on her blog called Books for Little Hands.
Deirdra: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Renee: It was about five years ago. I was working part time in our family business and as a relief teacher aid, when I went on a journey of self discovery. Three years earlier when I was expecting our daughter, I wrote an Early Childhood Resource Book about Creative Learning Experiences. I sent it to Ashton Scholastic Books (at the time) and it did make it to another section, but it was eventually rejected. That rejection floored me for a few years. I didn't even edit it or send it to another publisher. So I would say, even though I used to write poetry as a teenager and I wrote a book eight years ago, it was about five years ago that something was triggered in me and I just knew I wanted to be a children's author.
Deirdra: Are you planning on self-publishing, finding and agent, going with a small press or other? And why?
Renee: I've considered self publishing but picture books are incredibly expensive to print. My goal is to be a published author so ideally I would like an agent who knows the publishing industry inside and out.
Deirdra: What is your writing and educational background?
Renee: I have a Diploma of Education and I worked as an Early Childhood Teacher for ten years before having our two children. Over the past five years, I have completed writing courses such as, Create a Kid's Book, and Creative Writing at The Sydney Writing Centre. I plan to study a Diploma or Bachelor of Writing and Editing in the next few years.
Deirdra: What makes you passionate about writing?
Renee: Knowing how reading a book makes children think and feel gives me the passion to write. It's an exciting time for children as they learn that words have meaning, stories have rhythm, and the mind has imagination. It is such a privilege to write for young children and I believe that they deserve nothing but the best literary experience.
Deirdra: Besides writing what other talents do you have?
Renee: I can catch a T.V remote hurled across the lounge room in my left hand 99% of the time. I hear you laugh! I can speak in a voice like Elmo from Sesame Street. In all seriousness, other than writing I'm a keen photographer and storyteller.
Deirdra: What is your writing schedule like?
Renee: I would love to say that I have a writing schedule but I usually write whenever inspiration hits me. I blog usually once a week and being a night owl I like to write when everyone is in bed.
Deirdra: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?
Renee: I read many books directed at children and parents such as, picture books, family magazines, newspaper articles, blog posts, and anything that is targeted at children and families. Many of my ideas have come from observing children at play, at the library, and interacting with family and friends.
If I can attach the idea to something relevant in a child's life, and make the character and their situation relatable, then I know it is worth developing.
Deirdra: When did the idea of writing a book first come to you?
Renee: My daughters stuffed toy gave me an idea for a character and I recalled a book that I loved as a child. A few days later, I observed a father and son play fighting and that proved to be the secret ingredient for my book, In the Deep, Dark Forest. The story (narrated by a monster) is about something that lives in the deep dark forest. He has eyes. Blue eyes. Bulging blue eyes. He has teeth. Glistening teeth. Gleaming glistening teeth. He has a belly. A wobbly belly. A wriggly wobbly belly. He has hair. Fuzzy hair. Frizzy fuzzy hair. The monster reveals at the end, ‘But I’m not scared, he’s not all that bad. I know him very well that’s because he’s...dad!’
Deirdra: What do you hope readers will get from your books?
Renee: My intention is to leave a lasting impression on the reader by writing fully fleshed characters that children can relate to. I hope to make children and adults smile and that my books encourage positive reading aloud experiences.