Today I’m happy to welcome author Diane Hull to answer 10 Questions about her writing. Diane, who has a degree in Early Childhood Studies from the Manchester Metropolitan University (United Kingdom), writes books for children.
Linda Covella: Welcome, Diane! When and why did you decide to become a writer?
Diane Hull: I did not make a conscious decision to become a writer. I enjoyed telling stories to the children at Shade Prinary School where I was an Early Years teacher and to my three grandchildren, so I decided to write them down. Author Pippa Goodhart encouraged me to contact a publisher which I did. I was delighted when MacLaren-Cochrane Publishers contacted me with the offer of a publishing contract.
LC: What is your writing process: where do you write, how often do you write, are you a full-time or part-time writer, do you outline or do you plot as you go, etc.?
DH: I write my stories as they come into my head, wherever I happen to be. I write part-time, returning to each story as necessary, building the original outline until I am satisfied.
LC: Where do you find your inspiration for your stories? Do you draw from your own experiences?
DH: I find my inspiration from my grandchildren, writing stories that I hope will entertain them. I have 3 grandsons: Joey aged 7, Harry 5 and George 18 months. I draw on my own experiences and those of the children that I teach.
LC: Who is one of your favorite characters from your story(ies), one that you enjoyed creating and writing about, and why?
DH: Without doubt my favourite character from my stories is Baby bird. He is beginning to learn the lessons of life. In “Be Happy to Be You”, he envies the talents of his friends and his mother tries to teach him to be proud of his own achievements. It is only when he becomes ill that he sees the wisdom of his mother’s words. Many children have problems with low self-esteem and need to learn to be proud their own successes.
LC: Baby bird sounds like a character children will love, and learn from as well.
Do you incorporate (or inadvertently find) any of your own personality traits into your characters?
DH: It is not possible to write stories without inadvertently incorporating one’s own personality traits into the characters but as an author, it is possible to build on these traits to provide guidance to the readers.
LC: Do you find your stories are more plot driven or character driven? Please explain.
DH: “Be Happy to Be You”, and “Proud to Be Blue” are certainly character driven, based around Baby bird but other stories such as “On Our Way to School,” which follows the journey to school each morning, are plot driven.
LC: Did you read much as a child?
DH: As a child, I was an avid reader, enjoying “Sunny Stories” comics and Enid Blyton paperbacks. I particularly loved “Peter Pan” and “Mary Poppins.”
LC: How important do you think reading is for writers?
DH: Reading is very important for writers. By reading a wide selection of books we are exposed to other styles, other voices and other genres of writing. More importantly, in some ways, reading exposes us to work that differs from our own and may be better than our own. This helps us to improve.
LC: Who are some of your favorite authors and/or books? What draws you to them?
DH: I admire the work of Pippa Goodhart as she is not afraid to have new and different ideas and has a clear understanding of what children like to read. I enjoy books that spark children’s imaginations.
LC: Anything new in the works?
DH: I have about 12 books which have yet to see the light of day; from “Harry Has the Hiccups” to “But I hate Peas!”
LC: Twelve! That’s impressive. Cute titles on those two you mentioned.
Bonus question: Do you have anything you’d like to add?
DH: My son Peter Connor has recently put pen to paper and written a children’s picture book, “Super Rocket Shot,” aimed at reluctant readers with an interest in football. Perhaps writing is a family trait.
LC: Yes, it looks that way. 🙂 Best of luck to your son, and to you! And thanks so much for talking with us today, Diane.
Diane Hull is a retired Primary School teacher, specialising in the Early Years, who lives in Todmorden in England. Known as “Grandma Duck” to her grandchildren, Joseph aged 7, Harry aged 5 and George who is 18 months, she is very much in touch with what young children like to read and have read to them. Educated at Manchester Metropolitan University, Diane graduated with a B A (Hons) First Class in Early Childhood Studies and is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
“A positive sense of self is, in my opinion, the greatest gift we can give any child,” explains the author, who was forced to retire prematurely by the onset of Parkinson’s Disease. “They need to be proud of their own unique achievements and embrace their strengths.”
Learn more about Diane on her website