Q & A with Angela Kirin

Why did you decide to write your book?

In 2005 I was living as a teacher in China with my family. My children were 5 and 7 at the time. The town we taught in was Liyang in the Jiangsu Province. Unable to speak Chinese, no other foreign teachers to speak with, no television or social media. I began writing short stories to entertain my children. Always having a fascination for Superheroes I invented Doctor Elbows one day while playing with them. The longer I would spend writing about her the more anxious my children became to hear her latest adventure! But I think what really made me serious about it was when Brandon (my son) said: “These stories are really good, you should write a book! So I did.

Who/what inspired you to write?

My children Brandon and Rielle. These days they are both teenage, but still enjoy reading about Doctor Elbows and her adventures. Admittedly, as B and R have grown, I have had learnt to evolve/mature my writing to keep up with them. The more teenagers I meet and the more I talk with them, the more I learn. There are a lot of young people out there looking for some pointers to make a start in writing. So I see it’s important to share what I have learnt along the way as a means of guidance.

What was the most rewarding part of the writing process?

I have two. The first is getting to know my four main characters. They don’t exist in real life but they do in my head. The best part was the challenge of bringing them to life! The second is being given the opportunity to hold teen writing workshops at local libraries. Talking to young people about a mutual passion is a lifting experience. I agree we need technology in our lives but not at the expense of books!

What are your top tips for writing a book?

• Know your characters inside out
• Less is more. Check every word you use. Ask yourself, ‘do I really need that word?’
• Write visually so the reader can form a mental picture of each scene.
• Try to watch grammar, spelling and punctuation. (I’m sure many authors like me slip up here).
• Re-read your book and check for continuity / fact accuracy.

Which books/authors have inspired you?

Sharyn Munro because she has been a friend and inspiration for most of my life. She is a conversationalist, environmentalist and pioneering woman.
Beatrix Potter and Enid Blyton: As a child, these English authors began to alert me to a good read that made me feel I was transported to another world!
J.K Rowlings Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban: For me, it’s the best she has written.
Anything by Michel Leunig.

And, humbly, my own book/s … The Doctor Elbows Trilogy … What does it mean to me?

”They are superheroes with a twist. Superheroes who make mistakes and question their actions. They have awkward moments, but ultimately work toward a higher purpose. Through self belief, they try to fix themselves and the lives of those they love. This is an ongoing passion for all four of my main characters and for me.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

I enjoy the publishing process in all its forms and, as a self-publisher, I was involved in the entire process. Whenever I have had dealings with any of the staff at Palmer Higgs, no matter how hard the task, they are genuine and willing to help.

What do you hope your readers get out of your book?

To be transported into a world of teenage superheroes where not everyone has the best superpowers but self-belief prevails. Be entertained by the ride and come away feeling good about yourself.

Would you consider writing another book?

Yes, I’m writing the sequel to Doctor Elbows right now! I hope that Doctor Elbows will become a trilogy! I hope the sequel Doctor Elbows and The Great Watertown Coastline will be published Christmas 2014 by Palmer Higgs.

Do you have any other tips for new authors (ie. book launch, research, marketing etc.)?

Once you have decided upon a character/characters. Get inside their heads. Interview them in your mind and challenge them. Imagine their reactions for all their strengths and faults. This is essential to make a reader believe. Also, don’t be afraid to talk to other people about your muse/s as though they really exist. When the writing part is over the tough part of speaking publicly about it begins. Literary audiences are very switched on so you must know your work. Talk to as many people as possible, ie. libraries, book cafés, join a writers centre etc…