Frequently Asked Questions
Hello everyone! I am answering the many questions I receive from you as I travel to many schools and receive your emails and letters.
Here are the most commonly asked questions and answers…Thank you for your emails and pictures.
I love them all. Keep them coming!
Love Donna Dyson xx
Snail Mail and Pictures can be sent to:
Donna Dyson - Author at Speakers Ink
PO Box 382
Coorparoo QLD 4151
Questions and Answers:
Is Donna Dyson your real name?
Yes it is! I am Mrs. Dyson and I am married to Mr. Dyson and together we are often referred to as the Darling Dysons!
Where do you live?
I live in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. The sun shines most of the time in our city and it is summer for a little more than half a year! The rest of the time, it is like most people’s autumn weather!
I travel a great deal due to my work with books, schools and music, but it always lovely to be home.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose?
Well, Australia is quite magnificent, but there are other places I love. I am very fond of beautiful villages in England, where rabbits and ducks play in fields together. I would be very happy in any Italian village as long as there is great coffee and I could sit and write for hours!
Is writing your job?
Yes, I suppose it is my main job these days!
I spent many years being a teacher and then a university lecturer, which then led me to my many books being published quite quickly over a few years. Most of my days are filled with words and music…either writing, reading or speaking about books OR composing music, writing lyrics (words in songs) and singing or speaking about my new songs. Either way, I work with words all day!
When you visit our school, you use a white cane. What is that?
I lost most of my eyesight in 2012 and that caused me to be titled as legally blind. I have many different types of computers and technology, which assist me to see as much as I can. I still have a tiny bit of sight in my right eye and that allows me to travel and get about with my sight cane (a long stick which many blind people use to help them feel their surroundings around their feet to ensure they don’t fall or bump into things).
My blindness stopped me from teaching or lecturing full time as my job, so I was very lucky to have my writing and composing music as I can touch type and play the piano and guitar without needing to see a single thing. Since 2012, my writing of books and music has definitely become my main jobs! I love them both so much, almost as much as I love meeting all of you wonderful children when I visit schools and early learning centres.
You can learn more about people who are blind by clicking here.
Where do your ideas come from?
Everywhere! I am a good listener and sometimes I write about things I hear. This is especially the case when I write my songs.
I was a teacher and I loved teaching so much. I try to choose ideas I know you, as children will love to learn or read about.
My books that are linked to the Queensland museum are the results of objects in the museum, which find themselves as illustrations in my books.
I mostly write in rhyming couplets, which is a form of poetry. This is also the way many songs are written so, some of my books have music which the book text can be sung along to the music available online. Hat Parade is a very popular song and is used by many schools for their Easter Hat Parades.
In your book “Your Shipwreck Adventure”, is Dr. Dan real?
Yes! There really is a Dr. Dan but his real name is Ed. I worked very closely with Ed when I was writing that book. He has a fabulous job, searching the oceans for shipwreck artefacts (objects) to learn about our history. Perhaps you might like to become a maritime archaeologist like Ed one day?
Who illustrates your books?
I have many different illustrators and some of my books have photographs as illustrations. My publisher chooses the illustrators for my books and sometimes I only meet them for the first time at the book launches!
Who is your favourite illustrator?
My favourite Australian illustrator is Kerry Argent. I love her animals and colours the most.
Who is your favourite children’s author?
I love Dr. Seuss!
In Australia, I have always adored Mem Fox and have loved our many conversations over the years. Mem was a good friend of one of my University lectures (Brenda Parkes) and I was introduced to Mem’s exceptional works through Brenda’s lectures. I have loved her work every since!
Here is a picture of us:
How many books do you work on each year?
At any one stage, I am working on about five books.
Some are at the beginning stages, some at the end and some at that very tricky middle bit…when you wonder if you’ll ever get enough time to finish them!
When do you write?
I am a night owl (hoot hoot)…If I could I would write all night, but I can’t as that would make me far too tired to visit all of you in the school day! So, I block time in my day to write, to edit and sometimes to rewrite or research.
I dedicate about 25 hours each week to writing children’s books. HOWEVER, I dedicate about 40 hours a week to writing and composing music. I write a new song every day. Music takes a lot more time because it is very different to books. Music needs every instrument you want to use to be written for separately, and then the lyrics (words in a song) need to be perfect for every beat and the mood of the song.
Sometimes I write for children’s choirs or children’s songs. Most of my music however is for adults. You can find out more about my music by clicking here.
Where do you write?
On the days when I am not visiting schools or composing interstate, I start my morning in one of my favourite cafes drinking coffee and reading what I wrote the day before. I am legally blind, so you might ask, “How can you read when you are blind?”
I have all of my work on my laptop and a special voice in my computer reads me my stories. While sipping my coffee, I usually edit my work or add new ideas into the stories.
I NEVER write music in a café, but sometimes I do write lyrics.
Do you always write for children?
…well, you are all very wonderful and that is a good reason to keep writing for you! I do write for adults too. I have written many, many works for teachers. My music is divided between children and adults, so I suppose I write for everyone.
What was your favourite book as a child?
Easy question! My favourite book was (and it still is)…
T’was the Night Before Christmas. I loved it because it rhymed, it was about my favourite time of year and it had the most gloriously huge illustrations. My brother owned it before me and it is still in my bookcase, loved and treasured and read aloud every Christmas eve in our home! Another favourite is Wombat Devine by Mem Fox. I read it with all the animal voices! I am very good at Emu’s voice who’s always “bossing and fussing”!