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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Author Interview: Dee White

I was very lucky to have the chance to interview Dee White, author of Letters to Leonardo, which I reviewed a couple of weeks ago.

For those of you who did not see the review, I loved the book and while it was released last year, before I had even started blogging, I wanted to share the book with you.

It's Matt Hudson's 15th birthday and all he wants is some art lessons. Instead, he gets a card from his dead mother. How can someone who died ten years ago send you a card? Simple answer - they can't. This awful truth changes Matt's life forever.

Where did you get the idea for writing Letters to Leonardo?
A friend told me the true story of a man who got a card on his twenty-first birthday from the mother he thought was dead. He discovered she had been in an asylum for most of his life, suffering from a mental illness.

Why did you decide to write about bi-polar disorder?
I needed to find a reason for Matt's mother's absence from his life, and for why his father had lied to him. I knew someone whose Mum was bipolar so I had seen how difficult living with bipolar is and how devastating the illness can be when a person doesn't take their medication. I needed a reason to explain why Matt's father might want to protect Matt from her.

Why did you choose Leonardo da Vinci?
I've always had a bit of an obsession with Leonardo da Vinci and as I developed Matt's character, I found out he was artistic so Leonardo seemed like he would be make a good mentor figure for Matt - and someone he could express himself to.

What do you hope your readers will get out of Letters To Leonardo?
I hope they will empathise with Matt and his situation, and that it will make them think about the issues raised in the book. I hope readers will care about the people in the book and that it will move them emotionally, make them laugh and cry, make them feel inspired. I hope it will introduce them to the world of Leonardo da Vinci and make them think about choices.

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
I have wanted to be a writer since I was seven. I wrote a poem and was asked to read it at assembly and I've been writing since then.

Why do you write for children and young adults?
I started writing for children when I had kids of my own. It just seemed like a natural thing to do. As my kids have got older, my readership has got older. I particularly love writing for young adults because of the subject matter you can explore and because it's okay to tell the truth - YA readers want it. I think that YA has an honesty and depth that you often don't find in books for adults.

Do you have any must-haves while writing? Tea? Chocolate? Music?
I don't listen to music, but I do drink a bit of tea and chocolate is really great for those days when you get bad news like a rejection from a publisher. I walk my dog a lot. If I'm stuck for what to say, I walk the dog and usually, inspiration comes to me.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Read a lot and write a lot. To be a writer you have to persevere, you have to really want to do it. You have to put the bad days aside and celebrate the successes. I have a page on my blog that's full of information about how to become a writer and tips on better writing.

What can we expect from you next?
I just had a new book, Harry's Goldfield Adventure out this month and I'm currently working on rewriting my next YA novel, Street Racer and a YA psychological series called The Chat Room

"Thanks for having me on your blog, Jess and for your interest in my book. You can find out more about me and my work on my website or my blog."

I would like to thank Dee for letting me interview her and for her enthusiasm. I would also like to wish her all the best for all her future projects.


  1. Great interview. I agree that exercise helps when you're suffering from the Block.

  2. So fantastic, Jess! Well done :) xoxo


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