Wednesday, March 23, 2016

An Interview with Author J.R. Poulter

 "Dream of the Fox Women" by J.R. McRae

J.R. Poulter (also known as J.R. McRae) is an award-winning author, celebrating her new book release “Dream of the Fox Women” – a beautifully illustrated children’s book published by Windy Hollow Books.

Poulter's major awards include…Children's Choice, New Zealand; in Top Ten Children's Books & YA Books, New Zealand; "Mending Lucille" won Crichton, CBCA Award; and Premier's Recommended Reading List, NSW, Australia.

Welcome J.R.!

GM: Where in the world are you? 
J.R.: In Oz, the place of topsy turvy, Alice in Wonderland imagination!

GM: How do you develop characters?
J.R.: I try to see through the character’s eyes, have them say and do what seems to come spontaneously for them to say and do. That is the best way I can explain it as my writing is right brain not pre-plotted.

GM: Does your environment influence your characters?
J.R.: I hope not but, that said, no writer who feels intensely can keep their world and their experience right out of a book. Something has to seep through and sometimes you overhear snippets of conversations, observe particular characters and those things stick in your memory and re-emerge as dialogue or as part of a character’s description.

GM: Do you have a muse that keeps you motivated?
J.R.: Some writers and illustrators play favorite music or have images on their walls of favorite scenes etc., but I don’t have anything like that although a scene in nature or a snippet of music might inspire a mood or scene in a book.  Inspiration can come from anywhere and it is the inspiration that keeps you motivated. Then once started, it is wanting to know the end of the story that keeps you going – what happens to these folk you have just made, where are they going, what will they do next.

GM: How do you maintain thoughts and ideas?
J.R.: Mostly, the ideas carry themselves along. It is not often I am stuck as to where to go next but I find if I leave things for a while and come back to it, the ideas come again.

GM: What does your writing desk look like?
J.R.: A mess, an awful mess that I periodically get motivated to tidy but it is generally a mess again very quickly as I like to see my papers, manuscripts and research spread out around me.

GM: Do you like to write inside or outside?
J.R.: I want an ipad so I can also write outside. We have a glorious Poinciana outside and I want to sit under it and write. Sometimes I do that with pen and paper [the old way] but my writing is atrocious and re-reading and typing up is a pain. Bad handwriting’s the only thing I was repeatedly kept in for at school [besides my long fly away hair]. So it is computer driven writing…

GM: What are you currently writing?
J.R.: Two novels, a novella and some picture books, one of which is turning into what looks like a series.

I’m also getting a poetry collection together.  This is important to me as I started getting published as a poet while still at school.

GM: Please, share one of your poems…

by J.R. McRae

Inside, outside, door wide shuttered,
A murmur in mirrors,
Hinting what’s there –
Turn, do you see them?
Look sidelong, don’t stare!

The whisper is hung
In the hall with their coats.
It will hang there about them
The way rumours float.

Are they laughing or crying?
The mean little chink
Through which they can say things
Conveys to the brink.

GM: Who is your favorite author/writer? Why?
J.R.: There are so many – it is hard to pick just one… here are a few of them…
Nabokov and Tolkien and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn would be favorites as writers for the older market, YA’d include Phillip Reeves [Mortal Engines Quartet], Terry Prachett’s Discworld, Gormenghast [Mervyn Peake] are favorites too and for kids – Lewis Carroll, May Gibbs, Dr. Dolittle [Hugh Lofting], Rudyard Kipling, Magic Pudding [Norman Lindsay],   and picture books - Mitsumaso Anno and Graeme Base, Shaun Tan and lots of others!

Why - because of the soaring flights of imaginative their stories feature or the richness of their language and ability to write a gripping story.

GM:  Do you have advice for novice writers?
J.R.: If you can get a constructive critique group around you and a friend/relative who is prepared to help you proof read you are fortunate, it is a good start. [I don’t have either 90% of the time.]  If you have links to great mentors who will encourage you and steer you and correct where needed, that helps. 

Joining a writer’s centre or organization helps. You can learn the craft at university or in a writing course. But nothing beats a great idea and the ability to turn them into great stories!

J.R. Poulter once worked in a circus. This definitely qualifies her to write for children! She has been published in Australia, UK and USA, having over 30 children’s and education books with mainstream publishers, has won major awards, including Children’s Choice, New Zealand, as well as digital editions in UK, Europe and USA. More books are due for release in 2016. J.R. loves teaching children the fun to be had with words whether in poetry or prose and doing dramatized book readings.  She created a picture book in collaboration with Craig Smith, for an enthusiastic, participatory audience for the Lockyer Festival. She writes novels [including YA], award winning literary poetry, short stories and creates photography and artwork under J.R. McRae. Her greatest adventure, under both writing names, consists of global collaborations with 50 illustrators, books designers and translators across 22 countries. 

Connect with J.R….

Publishing websites - under construction:

J.R.’s amazon author page 

Latest interviews - children's

An illustration from "Dream of the Fox Women" by J.R. McRae

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