Tag Archives: Interview

@badlydoodled

I only met Pete in person recently. I’d heard lots about him, wondered if perhaps we’d be a match as friends. My partner is keen to get me “out there” to meet more people. I’m not sure where this place is but, from what I hear about Pete, he sounds like he’s filling a similar space to me. Then I started reading his online comics. I saw something sparkling. That feeling when you witness a special thing, and you can’t quite explain it. Like a comfortable button being pressed at the bottom of your heart. Here is something special. Here is some destiny with noticeable traction.

I predict great things for Pete. I see many already. Do take some time to read the words I sent to @badlydoodled and the words he, indeed, sent back to me.

Pete
38
Danish
Dad
Husband
Lived here for 15 years
Works in an office all day
Pretty nice guy when you get to know me
Good at baking bread
Lover of crisps and chips
Hardly ever drank tea or ate curries until I moved to the UK
Likes Danish football and music
Likes long walks on the beach
And pancakes

What’s the cruellest thing you’ve ever witnessed?

On the insanely busy roads of Delhi I once spotted a man without legs begging. He used his arms to move the piece of wood he sat on, to navigate between all the rickshaws and cars. As he rolled past our rickshaw the person in the car next to us spat at the poor guy. I don’t understand people who do such things. There really is no excuse.

My mum once bought me a bin bag of “Roy of the Rovers” comics in a car boot sale. I was four at the time. The smell of old, festering paper is one of my first olfactory memories. That and rain etched car journeys. What are yours?

Many Danish suburban home smells mixed in to one. In the 80s, the Danish version of Grandstand, would show English football on Saturday afternoons. I’d often do that next to our wood fire, at the same time as my Dad would fill the air with his pipe smoking…so lots of smoke smells. That and the smell of newly mown grass.

What three titles would you recommend for a newcomer to comics?

Ooh that’s a tough one. I grew up raiding the library every week for all the great European comics; Lucky Luke, Asterix, everything by Franquin, the Spirou et Fantasio albums by Tome and Janry, Tintin etc, but I wouldn’t be able to single out specific titles. I then had a long break from comics for no particular reason. About 10 years ago I rediscovered the medium through the many great graphic novels out there, and I’ve really enjoyed exploring all the great titles that are now available. I could recommend Maus and From Hell or the many amazing titles by Ed Brubaker or Adrian Tomine, as they are all incredible books, but my favourites are by other creators.

I love everything by Joe Sacco so one of his books. Probably “Footnotes from Gaza” which is amazing, and illustrates well how different peoples’ memory of one event can differ so dramatically.

Guy Delisle is another great storyteller but very different from Sacco. His “Jerusalem” is brilliant.

And every single book by Chris Ware. He is so imaginative and has such a recognisable style. His books look amazing, and even if his stories were rubbish, you could spend years staring at the artwork in total awe of this man. “Jimmy Corrigan” is brilliant, but his newest “Building Stories” is so innovative and just incredible, that any newcomer must read it, just to get a flavour of what this medium can do that no other is able to do.

So, that was loads more than 3 books, but our newcomer will thank me for this. You’re welcome.

What is obvious in your work is how much you clearly love your son and, at the same time, find him hilarious. Would you say your creativity has been kindled by his very existence? Or, to put it another way, has parenthood ignited something inside you that perhaps might not have been realised without him?

No Oskar. No comic. I never knew that I wanted to do this and it was a total coincidence that it happened. I had made lots of notes of the funny things he would come out with since he was about three years old. My wife designed a book for me and all my “bloody notes” as she put it, so I used it for all this. I would update this every now and then but never really knew what to do with it. I was afraid that one day it would be forgotten and then what was the point. Around the same time I got really fed up with not really having any kind of hobby. I have always been fairly creative and it annoyed me to bits that all I did now was go to work and come home and do nothing in the evening. I thought that I should take up photography again, but I had no good camera and no time to take photos, other than photos of Oskar. And then I thought, why not do something with those bits of dialogue and comments I had noted down. “Fatherhood. Badly Doodled.” was born.

It’s been great ever since. I was not good at drawing at the beginning so it has been a journey for me too, where I have improved my drawing skills, refined my style and had a sense of achievement by seeing how far I’ve come since those first drawing in Paint. It has also made me more aware of what my son says and I am sure I am more tuned in to his monologues etc now, than I was back in the day. It sounds like I didn’t use to listen to him, but I think most parents know that sometimes you just have to put the mute button on when they don’t stop talking.

So, yes. No Oskar. No doodles, and luckily he finds them quite funny too.

You’re a keen tack on Twitter. Without even trying. What is your take on social media?

To start with I had no idea what it was all about and I had no idea how to engage with people, or how to get people to look at my work. I still don’t really understand this but I know a lot more now than I did 18 months ago. I started out by finding a list of comic artists on Twitter. The list was humongous and I never made it past the letter A before I got insanely bored by asking them to be friends with me. However, over time, and I have no idea how this happened, I started “meeting” likeminded webcomic creators on Twitter. People who creates the most amazing comics, some of them daily strips, and with so many different themes. It was a real eye opener. I had no idea that there were so many of them out there and quickly found out two things; my comic was by no means the only one about being a father/parent, and the comics community on Twitter is incredible and so supportive. Again I had no idea how massive this community is.

So back to your question. I use Twitter a lot. It’s the place where I get most followers and most feedback from, so it has been a great place to spread the word about my work. I try to engage with other artists, but I wish I had more time to do so, and it is one of things I’d like to get better at. So, I do try to use social media. Facebook is a funny one and I am not sure how much I get out of that one. My page grows by 1 follower a month so this is not the place where I get to promote my website. On the other hand, it’s the main promotional platform for all my friends and family so definitely has a place. I also publish on other platforms like Tumblr (which is the platform I used at the beginning) but that grows even slower than my Facebook page, and finally I have started using Instagram but this is mainly a platform where I can share my drawing progress and the occasional cartoon. This is the platform I understand the least.

So I am trying to learn all the time and at some point I am sure I will crack social media. I have no idea what a good amount of followers is or what is a good number of website visitors, so I still have much to learn. There are still a few other places to try out like Reddit and Pinterest…

Do you draw digitally or with pen and paper? I’ve always thought new technology/software must be a drag for comic artists. Discuss.

I draw with various pens and pencils on card/thick paper. Around the beginning of the year I started using a non-photo blue pencil (that scanners don’t pick up on) for my outlines and that has really improved my drawings. Around the same time I got a selection of pens in different sizes which made it even easier to play around with my drawings than before, so these two tools instantly improved my life and my drawings. I use technology a bit. I use Photoshop Elements to correct mistakes, sometimes I add the text on there as well (I’ve created my own font) and also to colour in large areas.

I have thought about drawing digitally and I get the impression that a large amount of artists do that these days. Their work is amazing and I get the idea that it’s a real skill to draw that way. However, I am happy with the way I do it. I like to play around with my pens, I can sit on the sofa and watch Netflix with my wife while I draw. I sit in front of a computer all day at work so I don’t want my hobby/evening job to be in front of the screen too.

Top five films.
As a former film student this is impossible. Even if I wasn’t a former film student this would be impossible as it really depends on my mood.

  1. The film that moves me the most is a Canadian film called Last Night from 1998. It’s about the end of the world, but without all the drama and explosions of other Armageddon movies. It is very funny and very moving.
  2. Since most of the films I watch these days are cartoons I feel like I have to put one on this list. I love Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 1 and 2. Amazing gags and amazing characters.
  3. I love First Blood and there is nothing you can do or say to make me change that. It’s a great film.
  4. Old detective novels, especially Raymond Chandler, have a big place in my heart, as does Film Noir. I am not sure I can pick a specific favourite as there are so many great films from that period; The Third Man, Double Indemnity and Big Sleep. Pick one.
  5. Finally it’s a toss-up between Alien and all zombie movies ever made. I can’t decide.

Top five comics

I’ve already mentioned some of these previously.

  • Daytripper by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba. One of the best books I have ever read. It’s incredibly moving, the artwork is incredible and atmospheric and everyone should read this. Everyone.
  • Footnotes in Gaza by Joe Sacco. Sacco is one of my absolute favourite writers/artists, and this is my favourite, although all his books are brilliant.
  • Jimmy Corrigan: the smartest kid on earth by Chris Ware. Another of my absolute favourites. His style, innovative ideas and imagination blows my mind.
  • Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson. I always assumed that everyone knew this, but every time I have mentioned it to colleagues they just stare at me. Clearly not everyone knows how amazing this comic strip is. I introduced it to my son last year and he loves it and reads it every morning before school. So much that he wants to dress up as Calvin/Spaceman Spiff/Stupendous Man at the next World Book Day
  • There are so many more I want to mention but can’t. Anything by Guy Delisle, Daniel Clowes, Adrian Tomine and Charles Burns. The Criminal and Femme Fatale series by Ed Brubaker, or Maus and From Hell which are both momumental. There are so many amazing graphic novels/comics out there, not to mention all the talented webcomic artists out there

What makes you feel comfortable?

When I can relax. Drawing is a very relaxing thing to do so I am always very comfortable in those situations. Being by the sea is very comforting too. Finally those moments where your child curls up next to you on the sofa for you to sit and read together or watch another of the loud cartoons he likes, that is probably the most comfortable moment I can think off. When I know he is content and happy.

What lessons do you really want to pass on to your son?
Ok this is a bit cheesy but; be kind to others, be empathetic, positive, inquisitive, explore, learn, fail, follow your heart, be true to yourself, learn languages, travel, read, don’t work in Events like me, don’t get a job in an office, and don’t ever change.

What are you afraid of?

That anything bad happens to him. Things that are out of our control like serious illnesses or accidents. Also, him becoming a money grabbing, selfish, banker, who exploits us common folk. That does potentially go against my advice for your previous question as I said he should follow his heart. Well, if this is what he wants to do he should NOT follow his heart.

Lastly, if you could have any team of writers, artists etc compose the comic masterpiece of your very own life, who would you choose?

I see a multi-platform event here. Comics will be written, films about the process will be produced and performance artists will brighten up the streets of London in the months leading up to the event. Every single one of them dressed up as Toulouse Letrec and miming sequences of my life to confused, and intrigued, tourists who would rather be left alone.

Since my life isn’t really that eventful it would need to be someone who can find the small stories in ordinary lives. Someone like Adrian Tomine would be great at that. Although, I had some odd experiences travelling in my early 20s and for that Joe Sacco would be a good artist to get on board. It would also need to be funny, as I am a hilarious person, so someone funny like the Swedish Martin Kellerman who wrote a great comic strip called Rocky. I imagine this collaboration would be designed by Chris Ware.

Yes, that would be rather, as my son would say (due to excessive US cartoon consumption), awesome.

Some lovely words and crafted insights from Pete here. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank him for donating his precious time to me. You can follow Pete at @badlydoodled and read his brilliant, heart smashing comic Fatherhood. Badly Doodled here. I especially enjoy watching a creative talent flourish and sharpen. Through his strip archives Pete’s love for the art and his family grow symbiotically, which is all an audience can ask for. Check it.

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@eddsnotdead

I can remember how I first ran into Ed. We talked seriously about WWF wrestling on Twitter. I checked his timeline, as you normally do. It was clear, and has been proven so, that Ed has a lot of time for a lot of people. A kind decent man. Unshakable in some filthy conviction. He was perfect online company for an impending, frightening job interview in his home town. He might know he made my day a whole lot easier. And he writes beautifully. A pen and hammer combination. Sturdy and delicate. Like so.

“Hi, my name is Ed. I was born in London but I really became who I am now in a town on the south coast of England. I didn’t apply myself at school at all and so I never did the great university adventure. Instead I married, we had a whole bunch of kids and I let life teach me what I needed to know.

I first started writing with conviction in 2002. I discovered quickly that I wasn’t very good at it, so I practiced. I’ve gotten much better since then. I’ve written eight books (I’ve self-published two of them), and three screenplays. My greatest achievement to date is clearly my marriage and relationship with my kids and family. It always will be.”

edhead

Who is Gita Askari to you?

When I came to write Blank Canvas I laid down a series of rules that I would stick to. Rules that would shape the story, yes, but also ones that would shape this character. I wasn’t allowed to shout ‘Zombies Attack’ when a problem appeared in the book, or I found it difficult to get to the next piece. I wasn’t allowed any random violence or any untimely explosions to create chase scenes. I wasn’t allowed to take the easy door. At first this seemed like I setting myself up to fail by removing some basic plot shake-ups, but then I realised that the book was purely about this character. It was her, alone, and that I had to focus all of my attention on her, or I’d lose. So I did just that. I focused and found that she represented the single hardest challenge I’d faced in writing to that date. I knew she’d make it through, and I knew she’d triumph in her own way, but I also knew her story wasn’t done.

Gita Askari represents much of what I think makes up modern Britain. She’s complicated – a product of a difficult relationship that continues to prove turbulent. She is royalty, and yet she has no power, no sway. She reminds me of the past and yet she wears the face of modern Britain – an empowered and artistic Anglo Asian woman that is aware of her roots, but is very much a part of the thriving western society. Yet within that society she sees the lies and the ugliness of privilege, and though she feels great waves of emotion her default setting is one very much set to stiff upper lip.

The decision she makes at the beginning of the second book sets her on a path that many must walk. How do we cope when everything is taken away from us? How much can we really take before we brake and realistically, above all those things, are we really strong enough to make the hard decisions to affect change in our lives.

Gita Askari has a wounded soul, but it doesn’t stop her being an explorer, a philosopher, an artist and a human being. In fact, it’s that damage that drives her forward.

How deep do you go in terms of character manifestation?

For me, I don’t do method stuff (is method writing a thing?). I have a great key that unlocks the story, the characters, the events If a and the reactions of those people I include in the story – they are unlocked by the wonder of music. I find albums that have the right ‘feel’. Those albums are listened to as often as possible before I start and then I use them in the writing time. It becomes an easy way to switch off, meditate and just write, plus, I can make decisions about the book while washing up, because the music is there for me to feed on.

Mood, that’s the key. If I get the mood right then I can smash out large word counts and be safe in the knowledge that they are going to at least be partially useable. That they will fit into the rest of the work, if they are indeed good enough. The characters come from the mood I strike when I think about them. They do what they want to on the page. Obviously there will always be pieces of me in there, and pieces of the other important people in my life too. That’s unavoidable. And they have to drive the story forward. They have to follow some rules. But the majority of the time they write it for me and I just stick my fingers on the keys.

As an experienced self-publisher what lessons have you learned?

Write as much as you can. If you have finished a book, great! Get on a blog and write about it! Don’t gather dust waiting for the ‘breakthrough’. You have to make your own luck, you have to push your own story and you have to keep your eye in. Write.

Don’t rush. Approach agents when your work has been edited. Get someone else to do that. You won’t find the mistakes, they will. Once a piece of work is done I’ll run through it, then I’ll send it out to readers. I know there are a tonne of mistakes, as do they, but I also know a copy editor will sort them out. The readers are there to make sure it actually works. If a certain event is flagged up by one test reader as having a problem then that’s probably taste. If three people highlight it then it bears looking at seriously. If five people point to the same bit of the book and flag up problems then I have to swallow my pride and change it, no matter how much I like it as it is.

Sink all the love you can into the book. Write with passion and pleasure. Make yourself cry and laugh. Invest your soul. Then, when you have finished writing it take a day or two, before returning to the beginning and editing, picking at the fabric of the rug, neatening the edges, being anal. Each stage of the writing process requires commitment to the work. You have to put your head down and go at it. It’s hard work. Take the leap and get an editor. She/he may be a copy editor or be up there for a full editorial role, that’s up to you and your wallet to decide, but engage one so you can selfpublish with confidence, or approach agents and know they are getting a book in the best shape it can be.

Oh, and don’t give up. If you write one hundred words a day for three months then you end up with somewhere around nine thousand words. Do that for a year and you have thirty six thousand words. Do that for two years? Seventy two thousand words. Boom. Even better, take a target date and give yourself a realistic goal, but one that requires you to really put the hours in. Let the people around you know this is happening, so they understand you will be going into writing tunnel vision mode, and then write with conviction. Make the story come alive. You have to put the hours in to improve, to reach your goals, to find the things that work for you, and also the things that don’t.

A diamond is a pretty piece of coal. It was forged with the application of time and pressure – make your own diamonds.

How do you find the time to write?

I work in the construction industry as a labourer. There are times when work just simply isn’t about. When that happens then I write all the hours I can and make the most of the time. When I’m working then that becomes more difficult. In the end though, it’s important to me, so I make the time. Currently I’m engaged in a fairly long contract and I’ve been booked for work straight after this one finishes. That means I have to MAKE time, this is one of those times that the music comes in handy. I have the mp3 player rolling all day. I get home and cook for a family of nine, then pitch in and either do the washing up or bath the kids. Realistically, eight o clock is the earliest start I can make on a week day. That’s not so bad though, I’ve spent all day preparing through the music. I stick the c.d in, switch the computer on, spend twenty minutes checking email, talking to my Twitter pals and looking into the movie news, then I write.

Generally I’ll set myself a goal based on how hard a day I’ve had, what time I start and what kind of period the book is in. If it’s flowing then I’ll give myself another five hundred words to hit on top, generally I don’t walk away from the computer until I’ve hit at least one thousand five hundred words. I generally hit one thousand eight hundred an hour if I’m flowing and typing well, so that isn’t so hard to hit for me. I like the feeling of knowing I’ve done a full days work and then still cranked out three thousand words. That makes me feel like a writer.

What is your favourite smell?

An odd question for me as I have a really bad sense of smell. I think it’s probably due to all the dust from building sites, but I can’t say I have strong reactions to smells. I can tell you I love the smell of slightly sugared tea just as it slips under my nose. Tar and also the distant whiff of tobacco are up there too (I used to smoke, and in truth, I loved it).

If you had superpowers (you can choose two) what would they be and how would they combine to benefit the other?

Well, on face value I’d be interested in some standard hero packages. You know? The Wolverine – Healing factor and Adamantium skeleton. Or the Nightcrawler – Teleportation and stealth. Looking closer though I know I’m not a fan of pain and so would hate being cut up constantly, and if I could sneak about I just wouldn’t trust myself. Before long I’d be watching people getting naked, or nicking their bank codes and accounts. It wouldn’t be good.

From a standard role I’d have to pick Captain Britain’s power set. Flight and super strength. Big amounts of power that are aided by his magical force field. He’s powerful, but not like Superman. The burden would be less, I feel.

In reality though I’d much rather have the ability to connect with technological equipment and interface with ease. I could write while I worked on site, getting ideas down and always storing those stray story ideas that I get but lose because I don’t write them down quick enough. Back that up with an ability to conjure tea out of thin air and I’d be laughing.

Why the beard?

As it stands, I have a very young face. I was always getting carded in pubs and clubs in my drinking days (now long gone, I’ve been t-total for about ten years now). I always used to grow what I could thinking that it would make me look older. It didn’t, it just made me look scruffy. Why do I have the full on mountain man beard now? Well, shaving is boring. My wife likes it. It keeps my face warm in winter. I like to know what I had for dinner yesterday?

You can follow Ed at @eddsnotdead and purchase the stories (and lovely cover art) of Gita Askari here (Still Life) and the following Blank Canvas here. I’d suggest doing all three.

Still Life Final

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@babberblog

When I joined Twitter I very quickly came across Lewis (@babberblog) and instantly learned that he and I are quite alike. He is hilarious, passionate and an excellent, honorable father.

I learned a lot from him about being a dad in the first hectic, miserable, eye-gouging, terrible months of fatherhood. Sleep deprivation does strange things to you. Lewis is the type of person who likes to help other people out. His pacifistic nature shines through when you converse with him on Twitter. He’s talked me off the edge a couple of times. He might not even know that. That’s Lewis for you. He is quite human.

I’m Lewis, I’m a distinctly average person making my way through life. I’m ticking boxes on my way through, as we all do. Last year I finally ticked one of the big ones: having a baby (not the physical act, of course, that would have been distinctly un-average).

Aside from having a small human to look after, I also have a wife, a house, a car, lots of bicycles, a healthy appetite and a scraggly beard.

I blog about stuff, mainly the baby, but also other things that interest me. I’d love you to come and say hello. Validate me.

What inspired you to start blogging?

Blogging is one of those things I had felt like I ought to do for years. I’m a gifted procrastinator, so I’d never got around to actually doing anything about it. It was a quiet murmur in the back of my head, which occasionally got a bit louder.

When my wife was seven months pregnant with Cam I had a week off work on my own, which I used to indulge myself in all the hobbies I thought I would probably have to put aside for a while once the baby arrived. I also listened to the murmur which was suggesting that blogging would be a hobby I could keep doing.

I’d also spent some time reading sites like Bounty and Netmums, and not engaging with them at all. I had no idea there were so many great blogs out there, which is good, because if I’d found them I’d have been too intimidated to start my own.

What is the one thing you hope to achieve with your writing?

To provoke a reaction in whoever reads it. It’s what I want when I read other people’s words too. I don’t mind too much what the reaction is. Laughing’s a good one. Crying would work for me too. Thinking about something that wouldn’t normally register.

Obviously, if someone wanted to pay me to write, that’d be just fine…

What characteristics for you, based on what you’ve learned, make a good Father?

There are so many, and I’ve barely got started yet.

Early on, I was glad I’m a patient man. Babies don’t set out to wind you up, I don’t think, but they’re very good at doing it. Battling through the mental effects of having less sleep than you’ve had since you were a baby yourself, patience and tolerance are essential. No matter how many people tell you how difficult a newborn can be, no-one gets it until it happens.

One I feel is really important, but that I could do with working on, is feeling comfortable making a fool of yourself regardless of the situation. I’m a shy sort, and easily embarrassed. I don’t always find it easy to be effusive and “fun” in public with Cam. I hate feeling like I’m being looked at, and people tend to look at you when you’re busting out your best baby entertainment moves.

As time goes on, I’ll be looking to emulate the characteristics I saw and continue to see in my own father. He’s a quiet, gentle, fair, honest man. If I can be as much of a father to Cam as he has been to me, I’ll be doing a damn good job.

How close is your online personality to your real life persona?

The protection we’re afforded by our keyboards, monitors and the physical separation of the internet all mean it’s very easy to fabricate a completely different life for yourself online. That’s fine, if you let people know that’s what you’re doing. If you’re a blogger and you’re not telling the truth, I don’t want to read that.

I don’t make any attempt to be anything online which I’m not in real life. I want to be honest, I want to be thoughtful, compassionate and kind. I want the people I interact with online to feel that there’s value in those interactions. I think the connections and friendships we make which start online are just as important and “real” as those which start offline.

All that said, I’m quieter in real life and I’m not confident talking to people I don’t know. I had to make a conscious effort to overcome that when I joined Twitter. I’m happier putting words in writing than verbalising, so it wasn’t as difficult as I’d feared.

So, I guess, “pretty close” sums it up.

What do you hope Cam learns from reading your blog (when he’s able to read)?

He’s going to read it? Shit. Erm.

I didn’t write it for him to read, really. If he does decide to, I hope he’ll learn that I’ve loved him from the very first moment. Actually, I hope he’ll know that already.

Describe one moment of your parenting in which you’ve felt “a bit of a twat”?

Just one?

I feel like a twat when my tolerance reservoir runs low. When Cam has managed to rile me and I’ve got to the point where I feel like I love him, but I don’t like him.

He then makes me feel even worse by doing something really sweet to make friends with me again, usually a particularly coy game of “peepo”.

That makes me feel an utter twat, because all the blame lays with me, and there he is being the bigger man.

What is your favourite piece of writing that you’ve written?

A while back I wrote a short piece of fiction and posted it on the blog. It was the first time I’d written anything like that in about ten years.

All my blog posts are hastily scrawled in a lunch break, so it was nice to spend a bit more time on something. To think about it. To finish a draft and think “no, not right” and go back and change it rather than just posting it anyway.

It’s nothing special, but quite a few people commented on it in a positive way and some of those were people whose own writing I really admire. That made me feel good.

If I had more time, I’d love to write more fiction. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to.

What inspires you to write? What inspires you in general?

I love words. I’m a bit of a word geek. I’ve always loved writing and I find it a more comfortable way to communicate than speaking. So the thing that inspires me to write is a love for writing. Usefully, this also means I can find myself writing about any old thing and still enjoying it.

In general, I’m inspired by people. People who achieve things which I think are good things, invent things I think are worthwhile, overcome things I imagine I’d find insurmountable.

I once took a psychometric test which told me that altruism was one of my strongest drivers. So I’m inspired by a desire to help other people. I quite like that, although it does come with its own set of awkward questions.

Lastly if you could offer any new parent one piece of advice what would it be?

I think the most important thing is to trust in yourself. Nobody goes into parenting with all the answers, no matter how hard some people try to make you think they have some magical manual at their disposal. Trust that everything you do out of love for your child is very likely to be the right thing. Of course there’ll be mistakes, but we all make them.

Being a parent is hard enough, without trying to be a perfect one.

Before I go, I want to say a huge thank you to Sam for inviting me to answer his questions (and for putting up with how long it took me to do so, it’s an honour to have some of my words on one of my favourite blogs.)

Lewis makes being a dad look easy. If I was a brand new father I’d follow him on twitter for sure @babberblog. Read his blog. There are some excellent pieces of writing in there. This is my favourite at the moment. There are beards within it.

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@charlieplunkett

Currently hot on the campaign trail for her new book 100 Little Words on Parenthood Charlie Plunkett has been kind enough to answer some questions from me about parenting, self-publishing and writing. Charlie is married to her soul mate, Dave and is a Mum to an adorable 4 ½ year old little boy called Cole. She is also author of three published books, a series of ‘true diaries’ that chart the milestone moments in her life – getting married and becoming a Mum. She has recently published a 4th book on parenthood 100 Little Words on Parenthood which has not only been a fascinating experiment in collective publishing but also a hilarious and often heart wrenching insight into parenting from a wide range of experiences and perspectives. When she’s not being a Mum and writing she teaches ballet, is a presenter for Coastway Hospital Radio and has been known to be a bit of a domestic goddess in the kitchen.

CP05

As a successful self-published author and a full time Mother how do you find time to write?

Ha! I have so many late night lock-ins with myself it’s unbelievable. Luckily I am something of a night owl so this suits me perfectly. My little boy started school full-time in January so I have suddenly gained some extra hours to my day. I am very strict with myself that I never write while he is with me as I want our time to be special. He has spent a lot of time in Waterstones though as he has accompanied me on many book signings since he was a baby, he is my lucky mascot!

Describe your perfect day

My perfect day and one I could never tire of would be a beautiful summer’s day spent with my husband and little boy. We would be outside, probably somewhere where we could wander the countryside, take a stroll through a forest, paddle in some water, feast on a picnic and then snuggle up for stories in bed together in the evening. It would be a technology free day and I would probably finish it with a romantic meal with my husband, a bubble bath and the chance to catch up with writing my diary, the good old fashioned way, by hand.

What has been your greatest achievement so far?

Becoming a Mum is beyond a doubt my greatest achievement. I find material things and career success all pale into insignificance when my little boy wraps his arms around my neck and whispers in my ear that he loves me.

If you could travel five years back in time what advice would you give yourself?

What a fabulous question and as I am an avid diary keeper I have just had a peak at what I was doing exactly 5 years ago…

I was pregnant and my biggest concern at that time was firstly that my little boy’s birth would be straightforward and that he would be healthy. This was followed by worries that he may arrive before my husband fitted our bathroom! At this time we were using a bucket to flush the toilet, were sleeping on an inflatable mattress with a slow puncture and had no fridge, washing machine or kitchen. With the wonderful gift of hindsight I would have told myself not to sweat the little things as my husband pulled everything together in time and Cole was born here at home just as I had hoped. I think I would have advised my pregnant self to find out a bit more about breastfeeding before his birth because that did come as a painful surprise!

What challenges have you faced when self-publishing?

To be totally honest none whatsoever! Years ago when I first decided to give the book writing a go I came across a self-publishing company and telephoned them for some advice. I was put through to the managing director and he was so kind and helpful to me that I knew if I ever finished my manuscript it would be his company I would use. Four books later and I am happily still with the same publishers, they are a wonderful team and always manage to accommodate my deadlines in a caring, friendly and professional manor. I have heard through the grapevine that authors who have been traditionally published have since returned to mine as their service is so good.

I guess the hardest part of the whole self-publishing route is the self-promoting which can be more time consuming than writing the book in the first place. But I have heard that even traditionally published authors are finding themselves having to take a more active role in marketing their work and so it is something that all authors face. Personally I enjoy connecting with other people and arranging signings and book launches (any excuse for an event!)  After all who else is better qualified to promote my book than me?

Do you think the essence of parenting has changed based on experiences with your own parents?

I had a stay at home Mum who had a part-time job running a playschool, which I attended when I was little. My father worked full-time, but was a local building contractor so he was always home for lunch and dinner and his firm frequently closed over the school holidays. The values my parents had of allowing me freedom to be creative, to play outdoors and to value family are ones that I definitely have carried through to own my family. Things have changed though I wouldn’t feel so confident to allow my little boy to run as wild as me and my sisters did. We were of a generation where you went outside to play and that usually involved us climbing over the fence in our garden to explore the farm land behind, swimming in the lake and playing in the sand dunes, totally unsupervised. I would like Cole to be able to do all these things but I would feel happier doing them with him.

Define parenting in five words

Fun, wonderful, fulfilling, rewarding and magical.

What’s next for Charlie Plunkett?

Well I have a couple of books on the go so I suppose once the hoopla of the promotion for 100 Little Words has calmed down I shall be back on the computer finishing them and personally I am already looking forward to the summer holidays and long lazy days spent playing on the beach, walking in the woods and having barbeques with my gorgeous family.

A huge thank you to Charlie for taking the time out of her busy schedule to talk to me. You can follow Charlie at @charlieplunkett. Do take some time to visit her website at www.charlieplunkett.co.uk

You can find links to all her books below. You may be interested to know that Charlie kindly asked me to contribute to “100 Little Words on Parenthood”. You’ll only be able to find my contributions, amongst many brilliant others, if you buy it. It’s the perfect collection of parenting stories for anyone granted the unstoppable responsibilities of parenthood. 

The True Diary of a Bride-to-be: a wedding companion

The True Diary of a Mum-to-be: a pregnancy companion

The True Diary of Baby’s First Year: a mothering companion

100 Little Words on Parenthood

As an aside I’d just like to say that Charlie is not only a lovely person she is a bastion for open minded, free thinking parenting.  Do pop over and say hello.

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