Welcome to Sam Bertish-Morgan, who not only writes for children, also runs her ever-expanding Zuma the Dog empire!
‘Managing my writing day is like much of the management in our household. It’ll get done when I can fit a minute into my schedule. I am the CEO of our house, Mummy manager to a seven year old top model wannabe, Mum taxi to all his weekly events and activities, Secretary to a Husband who works away a lot, general dog walker, chef, skivvy and in between that I own and run a kids clothing brand and, Oh yeah, I write and illustrate children’s books.
I only write when I feel inspired. Most stories are about something dog related, so I find long walks with Zuma often inspires something. Usually getting himself into some kind of trouble. My stories are not novels, and written very quickly, some come to me in an instant and take only an hour or so get onto paper, others have required some research and have taken a few weeks. I find that walking away and taking a break, playing with dog and watching him, often provides inspiration for the next section of the story.
Ideas come to me at any time. Mostly at night, so I keep a note book next to my bed, so I can write them down and get back to my precious sleep. Lists are what keep me going. With so much to remember each day I have a memory like Swiss cheese and the only way I can manage anything in my life is by writing a “Busy Mums Bible” at the end of each day.
Most of the time my stories are written in word and when I feel it’s almost ready I start to make up the illustrations in a CAD package and as the pictures come to life, so the story if often edited or rewritten. For me the illustrating is the best part. I’m not the world’s best illustrator, but I am creating my own style and if my son knows what it is I’ve drawn then they must be ok. I try to make the pictures as simple as possible for young minds to understand. I believe its simplicity and colour that draws the attention and imagination of the child. The stories are short and fun to keep the attention of wondering minds and short attention spans. Almost like Zuma’s own little mind (simple with low attention span).
So, in a nut shell I can say a full day of writing is impossible for me and managing that day is also not easy. I fly by the seat of my pants in the hope I actually achieve something on the list I’ve written the night before.’