Please introduce yourself to my readers.
My name is Debbie Ouellet and I live in the small hamlet of Loretto, Ontario with my husband, Ray and two children, Alex and Sarah. How Robin Saved Spring is my first children’s book to be published, so I’m very excited about how well it’s being received.
How long have you been writing for children?
I started writing for children in late 1997 after I decided to stay home for a few years to raise my daughter. It’s something I always wanted to do, but never found the time to dedicate to learning the craft. My first pieces were assignments for a writing course I was taking at the time. My first thing to be accepted for publishing was a poem titled ‘Rainy Night Opera’ which went into the April1999 issue of chickaDEE Magazine. It was later republished in its sister magazine Chirp in 2004 and the children’s book Animals on Parade (Owl Books) in 2006.
Have you taken any writing courses? Which ones?
I’ve taken two two-year courses with the Institute of Children’s Literature. The first was Writing for Children and Teenagers and the second was Beyond the Basics: Creating and Selling Short Stories and Articles. These courses appealed to me because I could take them from home while I was raising my daughter. The idea for How Robin Saved Spring came from a writing exercise in the second course.
Where do you find inspiration for your writing?
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, inspiration doesn’t come to you. You have to go looking for it. Writing exercises are a good place to start because they get the creative juices going. Sometimes I get an idea from looking at an especially interesting photograph. It might give me an idea for a character I can work with or provide an appealing setting. I’ll look at the picture and ask myself questions like: what if? or If I were this character, what would I be doing right now? I also find that research often steers me in some fascinating directions. For example, I wanted to write a non-fiction piece about rainbows and did some research that lead to various legends that involved rainbows. The end result was two legend retellings, ‘The Watcher” and “A Boy, a Girl and the Rainbow’, which were published in Cricket Magazine in 2002 and 2004.
Do you have a website, blog or both?
I have a website at www.debbieouellet.com. I keep it updated with new information every few weeks with news about my latest projects.
Do you write longhand or on the computer?
There was a time when I did both. However, for Christmas 2007 my husband gave me a Palm TX PDA with a foldable keyboard that’s small enough to put in my purse. It’s got 2 gig of memory with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and a variety of other functions (MP3 and WIFI, etc.). It replaced my journal and I work exclusively on that or my desktop computer now. I type much faster than I can write and it’s so much easier to edit and store my work. Plus less paper is better for the environment.
What were your favorite books as a child?
My favourite childhood books were folktale collections by the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson. I still have my copy of them along with Old Bayana’s Tales with my name scribbled inside its cover. Of course, there was Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery.
Do you write in more than one genre?
I’m quite eclectic when it comes to my writing. Besides How Robin Saved Spring, I’ve got a teen fantasy novel for reluctant readers, A Hero’s Worth, second in the Dragon Speaker Series by HIP Books coming out in September 2009. Scholastic Education Publishing released in February 2009 a humorous short story of mine in its Grade Six Moving Up with Literacy Place Series which is sold to the school market as part of their reading curriculum. I’ve had quite a bit of adult poetry published and in April 2009 launched a poetry collection, Earth to the Moon, that I edited and contributed to with a poetry group that I chair called the Vaughan Poets’ Circle. I write for a blog called Culture Unplugged in their Truthseekers section which deals with culture, spirituality and the arts around the world. I’ve also written a number of articles about writing poetry that have been published in places like the Writers’ Journal.
Thank you for this insight into you writing journey.