Today, we’re chatting with Deanie Humphrys-Dunne about her newest book, Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog. Hi, Deanie! Welcome to The Bumpy Road To Writing For Children. Pull up a chair, get a cup of coffee, and let’s chat for a while.
“Thank you so much for inviting me to chat with you this morning, Deb! I love spending time with you and I hope your readers will enjoy learning more about my new book, Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog.” I have to mention you were so thoughtful to let me have my coffee, Deb. I don’t think I could function too well without it! Now we’ll get on with the questions."
Will you tell us about Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog?
Well, Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog is an entertaining story. Charlene the Star is a beautiful red horse, who specializes in jumping. This time she sets a big goal for herself. She wants to win the High Score Award. That would mean she’d be the best jumper in the whole state of Kentucky! Early in the story we meet Bentley bulldog. He’s really an obnoxious little fellow at first. He insults adorable little Hattie the Chicken by telling her that “Nobody even talks about chickens unless they’re on the menu!” Hattie is so cute. She loves to wear pretty bonnets. But Hattie gets very upset when she sees the headline in The Gazette. She plans something special to cheer up her friends. The story has lots of adventures and the animals are amusing.
Why do you write books with life lessons in them?
I love writing books that share life lessons because I think the lessons could help children to have happier lives with healthy self esteem. I don’t preach at the readers. The lessons are placed in the story so readers have something to ponder about. These days, I think parents are very busy and they may not have time to talk about good behavior with their children, so my books have valuable things to share.
What got you interested in writing for children?
I love children and I think it’s easy to relate to them. I studied with The Institute for Children’s Literature for a few years (2 courses). But I didn’t have the confidence to publish my first book until 2009, when I wrote my award-winning autobiography, Tails of Sweetbrier. At the time, I took a course in medical coding, but couldn’t find a job, so I was discouraged. But I had a strong intuition to write the story of my childhood. My parents always encouraged me and I listened to my inner feelings and pursued publishing my book. My Dad told us that when we weren’t sure about something, we should consider the worst that could happen. In this case, it would have been that no one wanted to publish my book so I figured I could deal with that if necessary. But now the book has won awards so I’m glad we took the first step. This book will show you that anything is possible.
In the book, there are several life lessons. Can you tell us about them?
Well, this book deals with bullying because Bentley was a bully in the beginning so we offer ways to deal with that. But we also stress things like sharing and helping others. Readers will see that it’s possible for someone to change, once they realize they’re not on the right path. Readers will also notice that it’s important to set goals and do your best and develop their natural talents.
Why do you have animals teach the lessons? I’ve noticed there are very few humans in the story.
I know children love animals and I think it’s more fun for them to read about animals who are the main characters. Besides, we can imagine what the animals are thinking and it’s amusing to do that. I think the animals make the story unique.
Do you have any more books published?
Yes, actually Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog is my fifth book. The others are, Tails of Sweetbrier, which I mentioned, Charlie the Horse, Charlene the Star, Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes, and Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog.
What ages are your books aimed at?
That’s a difficult question because children can have various reading abilities at different ages. Some are more advanced than others. I would say generally that they would be appropriate for 6-13. Tails of Sweetbrier would probably be the most advanced of the books, so perhaps it would be most suited for 8 years and up.
Do you outline your books or are you a panster?
Definitely a panster, Deb. I just start writing and keep editing as I go along. I change many things along the way.
The illustrations are great. Who is your illustrator?
I agree, they are amazing! My sister, Holly Humphrys-Bajaj, illustrates our books and designs the covers. She’s an incredible talent. She really brings the characters to life an captures their personalities.
Do you have any other books in progress right now?
Yes, I do, I’m working on a story that’s partially based on fact, but it’s still in the beginning stages.
What are the links so that we can learn about your books?
Will you tell us where we can buy your books?
My books are available on Amazon.com in both print and Kindle formats, Barnes and Noble.com, mywebsite, ColdCoffeePress, and Indie Diaries. People can also order signed copies from me by emailing:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you so much for speaking with me today, Deb. I truly enjoyed our time together.