Me: Tell me a little bit about yourself in brief.
J.D.: I was born in Ohio and grew up on a farm. I have always loved reading and enjoyed escaping to new places through the expert writing of my favorite authors. I love Fiction, Science Fiction, Non-Fiction, and just about anything written. When I find a writer whose style I like, I usually read everything they have written.
After the military, I traveled around a lot, from job to job and eventually went to college where I earned a degree in aviation maintenance. From there, I was able to indulge myself in my love for traveling. I have moved up in my career and managed to live in many wonderful places, while working in a profession that I love.
Me: What inspired you to start writing?
J.D.: I have always enjoyed telling stories to my children and it just grew from there. I began to write stories online to my friends. I have written several stories for my wife and these grew into the books that I have published.
Me: Tell me about your latest book:
J.D.: Millie and Honey – The Blue Angel Planet is the latest book in the Millie and Honey series. I began this book to introduce our latest dog, Archie, who was abandoned. While writing the book, one of my granddaughters asked to be in the book. I put her into the story and I feel that it produced a more powerful book then the previous two.
The first book introduced Millie and Honey and set up the series. The second book brought in a new character, but there was virtually no conflict and the storyline was fun and light.
The advent of the third book has changed this. Now begins the action. With Millie’s new found abilities, she and Honey are beginning to realize that knowledge brings responsibility.
In the next few book, I want to tie together a story that will eventually become a ‘Young Adult’ book. The series will continue in small bites for younger children, but every 5-6 books will become a young adult book, telling a different story.
Also in the third book, I worked with the artist, Romar Lipana to create full color pictures, instead of the line drawings in the first two books. I also had a company create a cover which I now realize is vastly superior to the ones that I designed.
All in all, I am extremely pleased with this book. I feel that it is the best one so far in the series.
Me: Are Millie and Honey's adventures in all of your books?
J.D.: Yes. The series is called, ‘Millie and Honey.’ I originally called it: Millie and Honey – The Incredible Instantaneous Interplanetary Adventure, but that was too long, so I just shortened it to Millie and Honey. Because of the unique way they travel, the adventures are able to continue as I weave the books together into a longer story.
I enjoy the fact that I have incorporated our pets into the books and now have begun to add our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren into them. The main characters will always be Millie and Honey, which I love as I can develop their characters throughout the series.
Me: What are some things that children can find on your website?
J.D.: There are videos that I have created or had created about the books. There are pictures of Honey, Thomas (our cat), Rags, and Archie. I also have a BLOG where I occasionally write stories.
Me: What inspired you to write about your dog?
J.D.: When we moved from Dayton, Ohio to Dubai, we had to leave Honey and Thomas with some friends, till we could find a place to live and have them shipped. It seemed to take forever, before they arrived and we missed them terribly.
I wrote the first book as a story for my wife, to cheer her up and make them seem closer for a little while. After we sent the story to some of our grandchildren, they loved it so much, that I decided to actually publish the story as a children’s book.
Me: Since Honey is real, is Millie too?
J.D.: To me, she is as real as any of our children. She is what artists throughout time have referred to as a “Muse.’ She speaks to me in dreams and whispers in my ear as I write my stories. Even though she has no physical body, I know that in this vast universe, there lives a lovely young lady that has a fondness for adventure and enjoys the stories I write, especially the little surprises that I lace into each book.
Me: Are any of your other dogs in a story? What are your dog’s names?
J.D.: Absolutely! In Volume II – Appleopolis, I introduce RAGS, the (Regent of the Appleopolis Garden Society). Rags came into our life, when a friend gave us a feisty little Yorkshire Terrier.
Later, someone found an abandoned Cocker Spaniel, named, Archie. He makes his debut in Volume III – The Blue Angel Planet.
Me: On your website, you mentioned that growing up you wanted to become an astronaut. Is this partly why you chose a career in aviation, so that you could be closer to the stars?
J.D.: You know, I never thought of it before, but it is possible. I have always been mechanically inclined and enjoy figuring out how things work. During my childhood, so many things were new and the world seemed to grow smaller as we entered space. I was fascinated in the men and women that went into space and the machines that took them there.
Me: Is there anything else you would like mentioned?
J.D.: One of the biggest reasons that I began writing books was not just to tell wonderful stories, but to tell them in a way that they were not speaking down to children. I want to challenge their vocabulary and entertain them at the same time. I love to see the light and joy in a child’s eyes when they enjoy a story. When you can see the imagination in their eyes as the story takes them into a world that is as real as anything they experience in real life.
Thank you for the wonderful interview J.D! My daughter and I look forward to your upcoming books!
Me: What inspired you to start writing?
Ashley: I have always loved telling stories, so writing was just something I enjoyed. It took me a while to let other people read my work. Now I love hearing what people (especially kids) think of my books. Writing is my release, it’s my passion outside of my family and work. Although my kids love my stories and they certainly inspire a lot of them. They even help! Of course their idea of help can be to fill me with more ideas than I have time for. Still I will never run out of material with them around!
Me: Tell me a little bit about yourself, in brief.
Ashley: I am a mum, who works as the Curriculum Manager for Labs ‘n Life. We work with at risk youth to train Labrador Retrievers as companion dogs for children on the Autism spectrum So basically I work with kids and dogs. Yes, I am crazy. It’s a fun job and certainly helps with my writing. My two dogs, Obi and Stitch work with me and they have given these young people such a sense of self worth. It is amazing.
Me: Tell me a bit about your latest book:
Ashley: My latest book is The Homework Goblin. It’s a short chapter book for young readers. Before I worked for Labs ‘n Life I was a primary school teacher. I used to love hearing the excuses for not doing homework. Sometimes I would even help my students make up a few. So I wrote The Homework Goblin!
Me: What inspired you to name a book about your one dog and a blog after another?
Ashley: I guess I had to share it around. Obi was my first Lab and the book (Obi the Super Puppy and the Mystery of the Red Mist) came from all the crazy things he did as a pup. This was written before I had Stitch (published after, which is why Stitch is in my author photo). When I decided to start a blog for interviews and reviews Stitch Says just came to mind. Both dogs will appear in other stories. It might sound funny, but I love sharing them with other people and now they can live on in my books and on my blogs!
Me: Tell me more about Labs and Life.
Ashley: Labs ‘n Life is a not for profit organization. We basically want to give young people a chance to do something for someone else. So they train our dogs (Labradors) as companion dogs for children on the autism spectrum. The young people learn a lot about dogs, dog training and of course themselves during the course. Its lots of fun and every day we see young people and their dogs do amazing things.
Me: How did you get involved with them?
Ashley: Funnily enough I got involved by playing volleyball. My senior manager was a coach and I used to play and referee. She also bred Labradors. So we started talking. Sue organized me getting Obi (I can never thank her enough for that one!), later she bred Stitch! We were both teaching and really wanted to do something for the young people that really don’t engage in schools. Sue came up with the concept and it has grown from there. I have been lucky enough to be a part of Labs ‘n Life since the start!
Me: What is your favorite animal?
Ashley: Well the Labrador of course. Still there are others I like. My girls always take me to see the otters at the zoo, they are lots of fun. We also enjoy watching the giraffes, monkeys and big cats. Actually we just love going to the zoo! I love animals, they are always fun to watch and interact with!
Me: Is there anything else that you would like me to mention:
Ashley: Thank you for this opportunity. As I have become more involved with social media to promote my writing and books I have found some fantastic authors. It’s great to be able to help each other out and it’s also a lot of fun!
Thank you Ashley for talking with me! I wish you the best of success with your new book! For those of you reading this, be sure to check out her other books on Amazon as well as her website. Ashley's site has links to her review blog, "Stitch Says," her books and other social media. Be sure to check out my review of Ashley's new book, on my other page!
About this Blog
Author Vickianne Caswell interviews other children's authors.