David C Fisher, the author of Catching the Contagious Yawn, shares his thoughts on what it's like to be a new author!
Did you always dream of becoming an author?
It's not something I had considered up until 18 months or so ago. I didn't have any dreams or aspirations of being a writer or something I have actively pursued. For many years I have noted down little rhymes, expressions or observations but primarily for my own amusement with no intention of them ever seeing the light of day. It was really just a self-indulgent collection of madness and probably a bit moody and cynical. However, over the last couple of years, I was my best friend's best man and I also had my own wedding speech to prepare and these opportunities provided me with a creative outlet for my writing. Since then, it has clearly stimulated something in me and this story wandered through my mind and developed really quickly that I was thinking about it quite a lot and it was irritating me at night when I was trying to sleep so I decided to note it down and just to get it out of my head already. Once it was written and it took reasonable shape, I thought I might as well submit it and see what happens. Thankfully the story is much more light-hearted than some of my early musings. I am a reasonably private person so I didn't tell anyone I had done this, not even my sister Hilary, who on submission, I advised would ilustrate the tale!
What was your first job?
Does a paperboy count? If not, my first job was working in the bakery of a local supermarket. After school hours and early Saturday starts before playing football. It was great looking back. It really helps your personal development, being treated as an adult with responsibility and accountability in your job and then gives you some freedom to make your own choices and do things independently with your own money. I also really enjoyed the interactions with a wide range of people, forming some unlikely friendships across generations which I think really helps you to grow socially.
How did you come about writing your book? Was that your intention or did you start writing for fun?
I really just wrote the story to get it out of my head, to be honest! I remember my sister Katy telling me when I was at University and struggling to sleep before exams that I should write down what's going through my head as that should clear my mind and allow me to sleep - I used to awaken to all sorts of madness scribbling down in the morning. So I suppose that's how it happened, it wasn't a conscious decision to write a children's book, it was more than components of the story, characters, lines, or bits of the plot that would come into my head and go round and round stopping me from sleeping so that is really what drove me to write the narrative. I suppose it has filled a void to allow me to write and that combined with having a 4-year-old son perhaps a children's story was a natural progression.
What was your life like before you became an author?
Very simple to be honest. With a 4-year-old, my life revolves around him and free time is prioritised spending it as a family and putting most of my energy into building an environment where he will hopefully enable him to thrive. I like to spend a little bit of time on my own and manage to get out on my road bike or for a run when possible. I can get really quite grumpy if I haven't done any exercise so I am definitely proof of exercise being good for mental health.
Did you face any struggles before becoming an author? If so, how did you overcome them?
I don't want to sound dismissive or condescending as I appreciate that for some, this is a dream to have work published but I was quite fortunate in that this was the first time I have ever submitted any work. The story came to me very quickly and the main narrative didn't take much more than a day or so. I then tinkered around with it prior to submission. I didn't really take it too seriously as I had no idea that it would get published. Perhaps that it is a little scruffy is a nice reflection of the author - sort of like the way dogs end up looking like their owners or is that the other way round? I heard Noel Gallagher speaking of the writing Don't Look Back in Anger and if he had realised the impact it would have on people's lives, he would never have finished it. Not that I am comparing myself to his songwriting or impact on a generation but I get his point and can relate to that as if I was to re-read any of my work, I would probably make some changes.
Now that you are a published author, how has yourlife changed, if at all?
No, not yet thankfully. Although I speak to Hilary (Illustrator) on the phone a lot more than I did previously. I have never sought out fame or attention, I have no social media presence and try to avoid unnecessary distractions. I am very fortunate to be surrounded by great people, family and friends and I really put most of my energy into the most simple things in life - me with family, a good sit down in the pub with friends, going to gigs, watching sport or listening to football and cricket on the radio whilst cooking.
Can you please describe a typical day in your life now?
I think like everyone else, every day feels as if it has been the same for the past 12 months of lockdown. Our son provides a natural alarm clock at the back of 6 or so and we slowly come to life aided by coffee. My wife and I are both working from home and scramble through each day to dinner, bath and bedtime and get an hour or so of TV in the evening, followed by a few pages of a book before crashing out. I try and squeeze in some exercise whether it is a lunchtime run, early morning cycle or Boot Camp class.
What is the most memorable moment of your life as an author?
I suppose revealing the book to Our family via a Zoom call was quite memorable. As a reasonably private person, I had managed to persuade my family, to keep quiet about the book. I was eager to avoid the attention and questions that may come with it and when I had very little idea about the publishing process. So we decided to wait until we had received the hard copies of the books and dropped off copies with my parents, sister Katy and sent a copy to my brother and then organised a Kids Quiz Zoom call to reveal the book. It was great to see the surprised faces of my nieces and nephew and hearing them read the story. I think my poor Mum is still in shock of it all even today. Katy is a teacher and took the book into her class for World Book Day and ever since she has been inundated with her class writing their own stories so it is funny to think what impact a silly story can have on their imaginations. Or perhaps they think if he can do it, anyone can!
In a few words, how would you describe your experience with Pegasus Publishers?
Between Hilary and myself, we are really grateful to the publishers for taking a chance on a novice author and illustrator. They have shown, and continue to do so, a huge amount of trust in us both to allow us complete creative freedom to design and structure the story exactly as we wish from front to back cover. I think this has been the best thing is that we have been able to share this experience as siblings. At times through the process, we have probably both been riddled with a bit of self-doubt knowing that our work will be out in the public domain but I think we balance that out with a belief in each other. To work together has been hugely rewarding and we will always be grateful to Pegasus for the opportunity.
Why did you choose Pegasus Publishers?
I submitted the manuscript to two online publishers who both accepted the story and requested sample illustrations. The first publisher advised of their preference to use an existing illustrator but I had already been sold on the concept of working with Hilary. She has a remarkable ability to take the nonsense in my head and capture it through her illustrations and bring it to life. I think having a shared upbringing, very similar sense of humour, love of indie music and mutual adoration of Andy Murray has helped to create an underlying creative synergy we didn't know existed. I didn't really fancy explaining what I had written to another illustrator or over analysing the work, it all just made sense to Hilary and she has captured it through her drawings. The creative freedom granted to us both by Pegasus really vindicated our choice and we didn't hesitate to offer our second story to them.
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