SUNDAY SHOWCASE: Meet Teena Raffa-Mulligan

Teena Raffa-Mulligan is one of the most inspiring people I know and I am delighted to have had the chance to interview her for our Sunday Showcase.

1. Where do you get your ideas?

Anywhere and everywhere. They flutter by like butterflies and sometimes I'm lucky enough to catch them.

2. If you could be anywhere in the world where would it be and why?

A cosy stone cottage in a sheltered seaside location. The bay window in my book-lined study would frame views of the ocean and when I needed inspiration I would amble down the winding path to the rocky shore, perch on my favourite rock and listen to calls of sea birds and the song of the wind. It could be located in the South West of Western Australia, or perhaps Cornwall where I've never been but I rather fancy I'd like to spend some time there.

3. How did publishing your first book change your writing process?

It didn't really. My first published book was a stranger danger picture book about and elephant and a tiger. I woke with the first few rhyming lines running through my mind one morning and over the next two days I scribbled verses from anywhere in the story on scraps of notepaper. When I thought I had close to the whole story I put them in order, typed them into the computer and then filled in the gaps. Essentially, this is still the way I work with picture books or poems, so it's a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle. Even with novels I write bits and pieces of scenes from anywhere in the story, put them in order and fill in the gaps.

4. Do you have any strange writing habits?

I have a stand-up desk and every so often I march on the spot or do a few aerobic or dance moves while I’m writing - or thinking about what to write - to get a bit of exercise. I also try out some of the actions to see if they’ll work…and play out conversations between characters…hmm. Just as well no one’s watching this writer at work.

5. What is your favourite quote?

Before enlightenment Chopping wood Carrying water After enlightenment Chopping wood Carrying water ...Zen proverb.

6. How do you choose the names for your characters?

I usually use the first name that pops into my head. However, there was one character that I took a while to name. Talibut Vish is a strange creature and I thought he deserved an appropriate name. I thought about it for days, then on the way home from the beach one morning it came to me: halibut fish with the initial letters changed. A perfect fit!

7. Which of your characters would you be least likely to get along with?

That's a tricky one, considering I write short lighthearted romances and kids' books that are either sweet and whimsical or a little bit quirky. Maybe King Fangtooth of Fogglewhip in Ben Bumblefoot because he's a rather nasty character with a dastardly plan to kidnap Princess Moonglow. I like everyone to play nice.

8. What literary character is most like you?

That's easy! Mary Poppins...though Pollyanna would suit me as well.

9. What is the most difficult thing about writing a character from the opposite sex?

I can't know with absolute certainty how the mind of a man works. Sometimes it appears to be an alien process that can never be fully understood by a woman. As a writer, though, I am like an actor. I think myself not into one role in a play but into every character in every story. I hope I occasionally get it almost right.

10. What is the hardest thing about writing?

Sometimes the words rush out like a swift-flowing current and the stories sing on the page. More often it’s like toiling laboriously up a steep mountain side to the summit. Or taking one slow step after another along a dark path with only a flickering candle to light the way. The story won't come and the writing is tough unless I step back and let the words come in their time, not mine.

11. What got left out of the final draft?

In the prepublication version of my Middle Grade novel Mad Dad for Sale, the grownups came to the rescue. I was asked to rewrite that section so Luke saved the day. For a children's author, it was an important lesson to learn.

12. If you could tell your younger self anything what would it be?

Don't take life so seriously. Lighten up, have fun and play more. Stop trying so hard to live up to your high personal ideals. Forget about being liked and accepted and let who you are shine brightly.

Website: Facebook author page: Twitter: @TraffaM Blog:

click on the image of Teena to visit her website

Thank you Teena Raffa-Mulligan for joining us today.

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