Our Authors

Daisy Lane warmly welcomes Teena Raffa-Mulligan to their team. Teena has many years experience as a writer of multiple genres for children, YA's, adults and romance. WELCOME Teena and thank you for answering these questions for us and your readers.

Describe yourself in a 5 word sentence.

I am open to possibilities.

How did you become a writer?
I have known I wanted to be a writer from the time I discovered the wonderful world of books as a child. When I decided to become a children’s author after my son was born in 1971, it was a time of typewriters and snail mail. I was working in isolation without any contact with other authors and while I had a natural gift for story telling I knew nothing about writing for publication. It took me 10 years of rejections before my first picture book was published. You Don’t Know Me? (Darelle Publications 1982) – a stranger danger tale about a tiger and an elephant – was the 27th picture book text I’d written and I’m sure it was the topic that got it over the line with the publisher. My biggest challenge was to hold onto my dream in the face of all the setbacks. Fortunately I am resilient and I was eager to learn everything I could about writing and publishing.

Who is the most influential person that has contributed to you becoming a writer?
Many people have inspired and encouraged me along the way. My father wrote essays and poetry about spirituality. We read our work to each other at the kitchen table and in later years phoned to share our writing.
I received lots of encouragement from teachers throughout my school years. My high school English teacher introduced me to the wonderful world of science fiction, fantasy, literary classics and poetry. He also gave me some excellent advice that I shouldn’t have ignored: “Continue to write in this light-hearted style and you will do very well.’’
The Fine Line critique group I’ve been attending for the past 14 years has taught me so much: Anna Jacobs, Claire Boston, Juanita Kees, Lorraine Mauvais and Susy Rogers have all offered invaluable feedback on my WIPs, plus buckets of encouragement and support.

What inspires you? How do you capture your ideas?
Sunshine; birdsong; flowers; the ever-changing ocean. Nature never ceases to fill me with awe…and my wonderful family is positively awesome.

When a poem, picture book or short story idea grabs my imagination and won’t let go, a lot of the writing gets done off the page while I’m going about my everyday life. I scribble random sentences and paragraphs on scrap paper as they take shape and when I finally sit down at the computer, it’s a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle. I put the various fragments in the right order and play around with them until all the pieces feel like they’re slotted into the right place. Novels grow slowly and haphazardly, on and off screen. I note down scenes as I think of them because I like to have a starting point when I turn on the computer. Often I will leave the document file open on the screen and duck in and out of my office as I get ideas for the next paragraph or block of dialogue. Sometimes I do try to be more productive, setting daily word counts and deadlines. It doesn’t work. That’s when I eat, usually almonds and apples. Sometimes cheese or chocolate.

What are you working on right now?
As always, I have several projects underway. I’m rewriting a short chapter book about a girl who is having trouble accepting a potential stepmother. Talibut Vish is a junior fiction story about a kid who appoints a parent tamer because his mum and dad are out of control. Rose from Toes to Nose explores what happens when a boy finds a strange object and starts changing colour. His mum mustn’t find out or he won’t be allowed to go on his first ever school camp.

What are your favourite books or authors to read?
I read an eclectic mix of fiction and non-fiction. It depends on the mood of the moment. There are many authors whose work I seek out, including Anita Shreve, Barbara Erskine, Joanna Trollope, Liz Byrski, Barbara Delinsky, Jodie Piccoult, Susan Lewis. When I find an author whose books I enjoy, I read every book by at author.

Apart from writing, what else is of interest to you?
Reading! One of my greatest pleasures is losing myself in a story. At the moment I seem to be on a suspense binge. I also enjoy taking our Labrador Chloe for walks along the beach path. She’s not old by any means but is the slowest walker you could imagine, so we stop regularly to gaze out at the ocean. Each day when I’ve ticked a few tasks off my ‘to do’ list I reward myself with some TV viewing…Scandinavian and UK crime series and dramas, historical sagas, sci fi, documentaries, nature shows. I’m also a wannabe artist and every so often I play around with paints and coloured pencils. My main subject is flowers.

Daisy Lane warmly welcomes romance writer Sonia Bellhouse to our team. Sonia’s first novella,  Fire and Ice, will be published February, 2019.

About Sonia

Sonia Bellhouse lives in Australia after spending her formative years in England. Her passion for writing was inspired by Enid Blyton’s comment – ‘One day you might write a book.’ Sonia completed a BA in English as a mature student. Published in multiple magazines both in Australia and the UK, Sonia has won two major awards in short fiction contests. A lifelong reader, Sonia shares her love of books and her interest in writing on her blog – Sonia Bellhouse’s Creative Pathways. https://soniabellhouse.blog. Her journey to publication is included in the anthology Writing the Dream published by Serenity Press. A long time member of Armadale Writers’ Group, she organizes events and speakers for them. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s busy ignoring the ironing pile in favour of spending time with her cats. Sonia answered the following questions for us.

Describe yourself in a 5-word sentence.

Friendly, optimistic, creative, a storyteller.

How did you become an author/writer?

I wrote my first ’book’ at about age six and before that I had imaginary friends. It feels like I have always written. In my teens I wrote and illustrated a satirical take on school and teachers. In my twenties I started a historical novel about Richard 111. I got married, life got busy and I contented myself with writing letters to magazines. It is only since I have been brave enough to submit my work that I have felt like a ‘real’ writer.

Who is the most influential person that has contributed to you becoming a writer?

I credit my parents for instilling in me a love of reading from an early age. I think that reading fosters the ambition to write, or it did in me. Enid Blyton inspired me when I sent her an illustrated story that I had written Her reply, written on a postcard from Green Hedges suggested that ‘one day you might write a book’. Otherwise, I think it has been my own need to write that has pushed me on.

What inspires you?

The wonderful writers who continually use words to make new stories to engage us, making us laugh or cry. Art, nature, music. I cannot predict what will trigger a story idea.

How do you capture your ideas?

I journal daily but ideas can crop up at any time. I usually have a pen and paper to record an idea. Sometime one idea will spark another I rarely ‘dream’ ideas as some are lucky enough to do, although recently one of my characters let me know that I’d named him wrongly.

What are you working on right now?

A novella about things that fascinate me, ice dancing, Vikings, Norway and love that last through time, and spans centuries. These combine into a paranormal romance. I have fallen in love with the major characters and I hope that readers will too. Apart from that I’m compiling all my best short stories into one folder. Also, I’m working on couple of long short stories, one which is animal related and one about new beginnings.

Other than your books, what are your favourite books or authors to read?

Childhood favourites that I still love Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery. Little Women by Louisa M Alcott. Peter Pan by J.M Barrie Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen Tom’s Midnight Garden by Phillipa Pearce. The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Adult choices- Oh so many!   I am sure to have missed some out.

Kate Atkinson’s   Life after Life just so brilliant.

Kate Morton’s The Forgotten Garden A mystery and a nostalgia trip

Almost all of Maeve Binchy’s books she writes deceptively simply but with a deep understanding of human nature.

Natasha Lester’s The Paris Seamstress, such a great story beautifully told.

J.K Rowling Harry Potter series-because you are never too old for magic.

Tess Wood’s second book Beautiful Messy Love, a compelling story and well-drawn characters.

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier- a fascinating story- the absent Rebecca of the title is ever present in this tale

Mary Stewarts Arthurian trilogy The Crystal Cave. The Hollow Hills .The Last Enchantment

T H White’s The Once and Future King.  is also about King Arthur

Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon, The Arthurian story told from a female perspective.

Joanne Harris’s Chocolat, The Lollipop Shoes and Peached for Monsieur Le Cure

Diane Satterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale is the book I wished I had written, atmospheric, mysterious, and with so many references to other books and literature all combined in a wonderful Gothic story

I also read cosy mysteries and crime and could give you another list!

I post book  reviews monthly on my blog.

Apart from writing, what else is of interest to you?

Reading of course, just for pleasure. I usually manage to read between six or eight books a month, I read mostly fiction but some non -fiction too. Sketching and painting for my own pleasure, which can be quite frustrating as I try to capture a picture of one of my cats. I have lots of half-finished sketches as they move at a crucial moment. Attending author talks to learn about their writing process and journey. I am fascinated by several periods of history, and of course I am currently researching Viking lives and customs. The part of England that I come from Lancashire was conquered and inhabited by Vikings so I like to think that I have some Viking ancestry.

I’m a long-time member of Armadale Writers’ Group, coordinating events and booking speakers. for the group.

I blog at https://soniabellhouse.blog  where I talk about writing and other topics and post book reviews of my month’s reading. You can also check my writer Facebook page at Sonia Bellhouse.Writer.