This middle-of-summer, 2020, demands a bit of whimsy, and who better to supply it than my featured author, Dawn Paul, whose tales of gnomes invite us to the world of magic and wonder. Dawn, a member of my local writing community, lives in suburban Ohio with her family. Multifaceted and widely educated, she holds degrees and diplomas in Humanities, English Literature, Business Management, Travel, and Children’s Literature. She is an artist, poet, and writer who loves her family, gnomes, yarn, books, and God. She sees the world through rose-colored glasses and sometimes, with a luminescent glow. In these unsettling times, a ray of optimism seems like the perfect antidote to all the frightful events.
Janet Irvin: Hi, Dawn! Welcome to the author’s couch. I guess my first question is an obvious one. What prompted you to write about gnomes?
Dawn Paul: I have loved gnomes since I was a small child myself, when I saw them in Wil Huygen and Rien Poortvliet’s book, “Gnomes,” at my elementary school library. When my family moved into our last house, I was surprised at how many gnomes I had unintentionally picked up over the years. The mystery and magic that surrounds them have always mystified me. Plus, I really like tiny things.
J.I.: Writing, of course, can be a demanding taskmaster. What do you find is the most appealing part of the writing process?
D.P.: I love the process of creating the characters and world-building. Deciding if the character will have temper tantrums or be protective, what they eat and drink, the games they play and the songs they sing satisfies my creative bone like nothing else.
J.I.: What is the most discouraging task?
D.P.: I’m not much of a fan of the re-writing process. My first book went in front of about fifteen people before it was published, and each time there were changes and tweaks to make. I find it a necessary evil though, to put out the best possible book I can.
J.I.: You have an impressive list of credentials. How have all your degrees prepared you for the writing life?
D.P.: My degrees in Humanities and English Literature helped to educate me on the human condition. I am a strong believer that everyone should read often and a lot. It’s a necessity to gain alternate perspectives to one’s own and gain empathy for our fellow human beings. The children’s literature degree helped me to understand different aspects of writing children’s books such as age content, word counts, etc., plus it gave me lots of practice before I attempted my first book.
J.I.: One of the things that fascinate me is that you are also an artist. How do you balance these creative drives?
D.P.: I have always been a creative person, so writing and painting really co-mingle well for me, especially in children’s books where illustrating is needed and so they just have a way of morphing from one into the other. My educational studies of the human condition have also helped me to say things through my art, be it words or pictures. I get a kick out of double entendres, which is why I also write poetry.
J.I.: Do you have plans to continue writing this series?
D.P.: I’m glad you asked. The next four-book series is already written, but I don’t know when I will be publishing them.
J.I.: In addition to your creative endeavors, you have a household to run! How do you balance the demands of a family with your creative work?
D.P.: That is truly a struggle for me, as I have a tendency to fall into Alice’s hole when I sit down to write or paint. I get “in the zone” and hours can go by before I know it. One thing that’s helped is to hire a cleaner. We also eat out a lot. Lightening the cooking and cleaning responsibilities has cleared more space for quality time together as a family, and less guilt about my work.
J.I.: What’s next for Dawn Paul, the artist?
D.P.: Right now, I am working on “The Big Comic Gnome Show, You are a Be-ing, not a Do-ing” series of paintings. They are three feet square each and there will be about 8-10 (I think) when I’m finished. This will take most of the summer and fall. I’m not sure what will come afterward yet. Perhaps I will resume publishing book projects!
J.I.: Do you have a group or writing circle that you consult on a regular basis?
D.P.: For the past few years I have been a participant in the Dayton Christian Scribes, the Dayton NaNoWriMo group, the Fairborn Library writers group, the Xenia Library writers group, the Miami Valley writer’s group, and I’ve hit a few other groups’ events, though I haven’t been able to participate as much over the past year due to this painting season I am in. I am also a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and still try to hit those regional meetings whenever I can.
J.I.: You are one busy lady! Thanks for joining me this month. Now, just for fun: what is your favorite color?
D.P.: My favorite color is red, of course-gnome hats!
J.I.: How about your favorite way to relax?
D.P.: My favorite way to relax is to watch mystery and British movies and tv shows while I knit, crochet, or sketch.