INTERVIEW WITH A WRITER
Daniel Ritchie , author of Silver Squirrel talks
about his book and his writing career.
How and when did you get started as a writer?
I have always been interested in film, since I was seven at least, and in drawing even before that.
I thought it would be a good idea to know something about writing, so I tried to learn as much as I could when I was in school.
Unfortunately I had a teacher who absolutely refused to teach anything about writing fiction; narratives had no value or even
validity to her, so I was frustrated. Fortunately, one year we had a substitute for a few months, and he really taught about
writing the way I always wanted to do it. I just love fiction. In 1992, I was working on a short animated film and some
squirrels rolling their acorns down my roof would visit my window and that was perhaps the start of my most ambitious
film idea, which ultimately became a novel instead.
How do you usually find your ideas?
come from knowing the subject. In the case of Silver Squirrel, I studied reference books and nature itself. I
fed squirrels and crows in the park and spent time in the national forest. There are bits that come from personal experience
and from the Bible, and some things just come out of the story itself. Beverly is probably one of the more interesting characters
in Silver Squirrel, and also the least based on any actual person. Her inspiration was of coarse real squirrel mothers,
and most of what she does is based on that mentality.
Did you ever get any rejections?
lucky since I'm far too timid to force myself upon people. The technology to do print on demand didn't exist when I
started writing the book, so I consider it a matter of grace that it came along when it did. POD isn't for everyone,
but it was perfect for a person like me, already with a career in special effects. I felt overwhelmed by trying to find
a foothold in a field with so much talent and so much history to it. POD gave me a chance to learn about the industry
from the inside. There are limits to what can be done with self publishing, but so far Silver Squirrel has been well
reviewed, so I feel there are still options, and of course I planned to continue writing.
Tell us about your book.
is a fun little book. It's about nature and animals and things that happen to them and what they feel and believe.
I'd like to think that it's also very imaginative and deals with life lessons, like a classic fairy tale.
What inspired you to write this book?
has to make good, descent films these days. As I said, Silver started as a failed short film; this was in 1992.
I'll admit, I never could tell a SHORT story. I wanted to keep it to about one minute, because that's what I could handle
animation wise, but it didn't work out. Over the course of a few months I wrote 3 chapters in novel format because that
was the only way I knew how to do it. After that, I moved a few times and wasn't able to work on it as much. I
picked it up again when I started working for the first time as an animator and continued on a little bit at a time through
a number of years.
How long did it take you to write it?
11 years, believe it or not. It was definitely a labour of love, and one that benefited from the extra work I had to
invest in it.
What are the major challenges that you have faced in your career?
I've admittedly concentrated more on the technical side of things. I've been terribly involved with
computers and that's often dehumanizing. It's been a challenge to poke my head out and be involved with human beings.
That's very important. There has been any number of other challenges, just like in the book. Trying to survive
long enough to get the pages written, while industries collapsed and money was scarce and everyone in the world was going
crazy and turning on each other.
Has the Internet helped you in your writing career?
I'd have to say so. I do almost all of my marketing online, not that I SPAM anyone mind you.
Also, my sales are entirely online. I also use the internet for my other business as a programmer and animator.
You can see my website at www.squirreldoem.com. As much bad as there is to be said about the internet, I don't
think I could make a living without it. I just won't have it in my home.
Which are your plans for the future?
Silver Squirrel was planned as a 40 part series, and the first book is the first 13 parts. I
don't expect to write a large number of these books, so I've condensed the next two sets for the next book (Silver Squirrel
in Uneasy Pieces) into one. It turned out to be not so ambitious as I originally thought, and I'm gradually moving ahead
with writing it.
What do you advise new writers to do?
truth, speak the truth, know the Word, avoid perversion and sometimes just say what you mean
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