Sean the Actor is the third book of the new series, What do the grown-ups do? The first two books covered the rural jobs of fishing and farming, so Sean the Actor introduces a good balance. The aim of the books is to cover a wide variety of different jobs, with the hope that the children will be more educated to make a decision about their future career – or at least start the thought process! However, even if your child is unlikely ever to become a fisherman, farmer, or actor, the books will help them understand more about the world around them and open their minds to how other people live.
This is the third book in the series, so what has the reaction been since the others were published?
Joe the Fisherman and Papa the Stockfarmer were published at the end of February and I couldn’t be more pleased with the reviews in the press. I was particularly curious about how the books would be received in the south, as I wasn’t sure how much interest people would have in books based in the Highlands of Scotland. The feedback has been truly fantastic, from children, parents, reviewers, grandparents and teachers. It’s so motivating to hear good feedback – it really makes my day! As a new author, I still have so much to do, but so far, so good!
What made you opt for following this story next?
There were two main reasons for choosing an actor. Firstly, I wanted to balance the jobs and have plenty contrast in the books to help the children see as many different walks of life as possible.
Secondly, there seems to be quite a culture in this country where young kids want to be famous. I had an idea that Sean would put a realistic spin on this and he has done just that. I have a pool of helpful people who read the books before I send them to the publisher. My Mother is one of them and she thought that Sean’s advice for the kids was just tremendous. In his book, Sean says, “One of the most important things you can do is educate yourself. If you study really hard at school and continue to educate yourself after school, in as many different things as you can, you are preparing yourself well for acting, as well as any other job.” Throughout the book, he doesn’t talk of fame and fortune, glitter or glamour. Instead, he talks about the need to continually educate yourself, keep an open mind and keep learning. He has sound advice.
How was Sean to work with?
Sean Maguire is a down to earth, friendly, handsome man and a great actor. I know him through working on the film, Songs for Amy (it was written by my sister and directed by my best friend – hence the connection!). He is a genuinely lovely person and, as you will see from the way he answers the questions in the book, he has his feet firmly on the ground and gives sound, practical advice to any budding actors or actresses!
How can grown-ups enjoy the books as well as children?
I’ve had a great deal of feedback on this very point! Grown-ups prepare themselves for a bedtime story but many have told me how much they have learned in the process. We all come from different backgrounds and unsurprisingly, many people have not been exposed to the ins and outs of creel fishing, cattle farming, or acting. Joe the Fisherman lives next door and I had no idea about some of the things he told me (smelly bait for lobster, fresh bait for prawns etc.), so I personally have learnt a great deal writing the series. It has been eye-opening to say the least.
How much are your children a part of the editing process for you?
The books fascinate my children and they have copies beside their bed, which they read again and again. They have a genuine interest in learning about what the grow-ups do and it has been a great experience for them, opening their minds to the possibilities of life. I read the first draft of each book to them to get their comments. I’m looking for signs of interest and signs of them drifting off! The books explain serious topics and I try to inject some humour and ‘kid speak’ throughout to keep them chatty and light-hearted and help maintain interest levels. By their reactions, I see where I might need more uplifting comments! However, I take their feedback with a pinch of salt as they know the characters in the photos and are therefore a biased audience. For unbiased feedback, I send the books to people who are not associated with the area or our family to see how they react to the stories. I have had lots of help from children across the country during the writing process, which has been invaluable.
What is next for you?
I’ve just finished Fiona the Doctor and Richard the Vet, having learned a great deal on the way! Did you know the best way to avoid being kicked too hard by a cow is to stand as close to it as possible? Neither did I. Fiona and Richard were great to interview and I’m very excited about the launch of their books, which won’t be until 28th October due to the lead-time required.
Next on the list is Gordon the Wildlife Filmmaker and his book is going to be a real challenge, as I can’t spend ‘a day in the life of’ due to the practicalities of visiting the North Pole or the rainforest. However, I’ve interviewed him and I’m busy watching his documentaries…once again learning a thing or two!
Aside from that, I’m working with my publicist to promote the books and have a huge amount to do as a new author to make people aware of them. I’d like to visit schools to do readings, as well as write more teachers’ resources. So far, I only have resources for Joe the Fisherman. The resources are a free download from my web and hopefully they will be useful for teachers who use the series as a topic etc. Lots to do. I have ‘to do’ lists everywhere! However, I sit in my little boathouse, writing by the sea and it really is a great life and a great job – actually I have about four jobs but this is my main one! As Sean said, “you cannot underestimate the importance of knowledge as a tool to help you move forward in life!” I’m learning about lots of different careers and hopefully passing that information on. It’s all good.