Rachel’s bucket has a hole in one side and a jewel in the other. When Rachel first pressed the jewel in the side of the bucket, she was just four years old. Smoke came out of it and in it five unicorns pranced lightly onto her hand and off again. It made her smile and cry at the same time. As her tenth birthday approaches, her world begins to change with the arrival of a mysterious silent boy with amazingly blue eyes and parents Rachel never sees. They move in next door and their house develops a green glow and has strange noises coming from it. That is when things started getting really odd. Remember, Minotaurs are ticklish…
Hello book lovers! Today is a day where I will be writing another author spotlight for a well-accomplished author whose work I have loved. As you know book lovers I love learning about authors and the inspiration behind their work, it fascinates me and adds to the depth of the book because the reader will be able to better understand it. That is how the author spotlights were created because I soon discovered that you lovely readers ALSO love learning about author’s, so I am excited to tell you a little bit more about author D.J. Cattrell whose book The Bucket and The Bag entertained my children and even me! From beginning to end. I personally would recommend this book to all of those that love children’s fantasy but really the books can be read by anybody as they are flawlessly written and highly enjoyable. With today’s author spotlight for D.J. Cattrell, a biography of the author and an interview between us both will be shared, and I hope that you book lovers enjoy reading it! To kick this off here is an author bio about the wonderful D.J. Cattrell!
D.J. Cattrell trained as a psychiatric nurse, then as a psychotherapist. He left that world to act as main carer for his terminally ill mother, then acquired a degree in performing arts. He helped create and run the New Route Theatre Company, championing new writing and giving aspiring actors new works to try. He also trained others in international negotiation skills at central Banks as head trainer for Frontline Training Solutions.
He has written plays in various genres as well as articles on the world of biodiesel and the relevance of Shakespeare within modern day management and business. He now devotes his time to writing for children, running a small business, looking after his ageing horse, deaf cat, wife and two children.
Now, how wonderful does D.J. Cattrell sound?! The author is a truly exceptional writer and I hope that you lovely readers have a read of the author’s work because you will not regret it! Please see below an interview between us both, I hope that you enjoy the author’s answers to my questions, they are incredible and provide some great advice too!
Thank you for joining us today at Red Headed Book Lover! Please tell us more about yourself
Hi Aimee. I am 56 years old and have had an eclectic life. As a child we never stayed in the same place for more than a year or two so I got used to making new friends on a regular basis. I went to a boarding school that equipped me with other social skills. I then studied psychiatry as a nurse and was a staff nurse then Charge nurse then Psychotherapist for around fifteen years. I then had the privilege of becoming the main carer for my mother who contracted MS and eventually passed away in 1999. During my time looking after her I did a BA in Performing arts and then ran a theatre company with a couple of friends whilst also teaching International negotiation skills at the central banks of Europe.
I met my wife in 1999 and we just loved each other from the start (I know, bit yuk but it’s true) and she supported all of my crazy ideas from that moment on. I started a Biodiesel company but soon realised that I could make as much money just distributing cooking oil and letting the big Bio companies take all the risk. So here I am now with my wife of 18 years, two amazing daughters who are the centre of my existence in the suburbs of Colchester with four cats and a rescue dog and writing children’s stories. We don’t earn much but we are truly living the dream!
Could you please tell us readers about your book and what inspired you to write your book?
My first book came as a bit of a surprise really. Since my girls were born I and my wife (mainly her) have been telling them stories and reading to them. Debbie my wife reads to them but I have always made up stories about them with them as the central characters. My brother is a carpenter and was kind enough to make them their own beds and at my behest he carved into the headboards of those beds ‘Sarah The Adventurer’ and ‘Rachel the Intrepid’ respectively.
The first book is about ‘Rachel the Intrepid’ and her journey through a magical land to find the sister that she never knew she had with a boy she doesn’t even like who has to find the father he thought he had lost 8 years before. Mystery, Unicorns, aliens and their own personalities unfold in their journey.
What would your advice be for aspiring writers?
The waste paper basket is your best friend. Just write a lot and throw the stuff that doesn’t work for you away. That and most importantly this which is not really mentioned much in the ‘how to write’ books and internet advice etc. It is the two journeys in every story that has been the point of every story from the ancient Greeks up until now. All else is just the events that make this happen.
The story journey for the character.
In most stories the main character has to go on a journey. Sometimes that is a journey from one place to another and sometimes not. But they usually have an epiphany. A realisation and / or change of mind, sometimes good, sometimes bad!
A bit like this.
“Thanks for inviting me on this Safari but I think that Elephants are scary and horrible. I hate Elephants! They are big and frightening so I shall stay in the car on this Safari thanks. You all go off into the bush and find your precious Elephants. Bye!”
“Oh no! There are Lions coming towards the Jeep I’ll start the Jeep and drive off! The Jeep has broken down. Oh no! I am surrounded by lions and they want to eat me!
Now I can see Elephants coming towards me as well! Help! This is so scary! The Elephants have surrounded the Jeep. I am going to die!!!
The Elephants are attacking the Jeep and I am so scared! Where is everyone?
No, wait a minute. The Elephants are pushing the Jeep along the track away from the Lions.
The Lions have run away from the Elephants. The Elephants have pushed me to safety away from the Lions.
The Elephants are smiling at me? Gosh how I love Elephants!”
Very basic but that is the personal journey. A change of attitude from what the hero first thinks is true. We also all recognise the truth at the beginning that Elephants are nice or maybe we don’t?
Every Hero needs to go on that journey because that is the journey that we take with them.
We have a physical journey, emotional journey and a personal discovery all in one short time line.
In your opinion, what is the most important thing about a book?
The journeys of the characters and having fun. It took me a long time to enjoy throwing away as much stuff as I had written but when I was okay with that then I realised I could give my readers the fun and Drama that they are looking for because I was looking to include the reader on the journey that my characters were on and if it wasn’t right for my characters, if my writing didn’t make sense to them then it wouldn’t make sense to my readers.
A book must have characters that are like us, that are us, when we are kids or adults, make the same mistakes as us and yet learn from those mistakes in a way that we wish that we could but perhaps don’t always. Stories are about us and us being better than we actually are.
What is your writing process like?
Slow! Because I have to work for a living like most writers, I can’t live of future profits real or imagined from book sales. I still work 30 hours a week so that I can look after my two girls and take them to their many and varied after school clubs. So, writing comes in 20 minute spurts of a throw down of thoughts that I have had during the day. I drive around in my small business quite a lot and there I think about the plots and the character’s journeys etc so then I vomit that out in the 20-minute window I have in the evenings between Debbie getting the kids into the bath and me cooking. Now I am on my third book I have taken to renting a space in the village hall so that I can write for three hours undisturbed about every other week.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
None. These are kids fantasy books and so I just relied on the remit of my daughter Rachel. After writing a silly story 6 pages long for her older sister Rachel asked me to write one for her. I said “What do you want it to be about?” she said, looking up at me with that evil 6 year old glint in her eye of “Can yer eh?” “A Bucket and it has to have a hole in it!” I said “I think you’ll find ‘Dear Lisa’ that’s been done!” but she was insistent and so I started writing and I guess all of my previous life of writing plays and workshops and bad teenage poetry all caught up with me and so ‘The Bucket’ came in to being.
Do you have a set schedule for writing, or do you only write when you feel inspired?
I don’t have a set schedule because like most parents my life is a balance of trying to create order from the chaos of children. To be honest I write when I can and when I feel like I can. I push myself a bit to make those moments as frequent as I can but not too much. Writing is and always should be a fun thing to do and as a perfectionist it should be a completed thing when it is ready not when I think I could make money from it.
Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?
Who has time to read! Only kidding. Actually, though that is true. Since I had kids and now run my own small business, I don’t get much time to read. To be honest the last book I read was called ‘Lovely Bones’ and it was brilliant. I tend to look for books that are unusual. I can’t be bothered much with books that are just copies of other books if you know what I mean.
When can we readers expect to read more wonderful books from you?
I am writing the third in the trilogy for older kids right now and I want it to be as good as people tell me the first two are so it’ll take a tad longer. I guess it will be out by this summer and being the third in the trilogy I want to make it the best and it will be longer than the first two but it will also bring every plot line and character story together in one fast paced crescendo of danger and excitement. There maybe some sadness and maybe some hope but there will be journeys and I hope they will wrap you up and take you with them!
In the mean time I have sent “I want a hippo” to my publishers which is aimed at younger children and is a bout a young girl who has temper tantrums. Parents are going to love this one!
How has becoming an Author benefited your lifestyle?
So glad that you asked that question.
My Publishers are a bit rubbish at marketing me or my books to be honest and they asked me some years ago to go to schools, do a talk in assembly about them and then do a book signing and I just thought to myself ‘That’s just stealing pocket money though isn’t it?’
So I resolved to use the story games that I play with my own children to create a story games hour of fun and inspiration so that kids could understand the ‘Two Journeys’ in every story and for the younger ones in each primary school to get read to.
It developed into an Author’s day visit that would inspire each child and show those kids who think that stories are difficult to understand stories and enjoy making them up a lot easier. Hearing 50 to 60 children giggle all at once has been an utter joy and a privilege. I’m not a famous author and maybe never will be but this joy of making kids laugh and be inspired is ‘living the dream’!
Its official book lovers, I am obsessed with D.J. Cattrell! If you have liked what you have read about the author and are interested in learning more about D.J. Cattrell, then please do have a browse of the links below and be sure to have a read of the preview too! You will not regret it.
Goodbye for now book lovers,