I am delighted to introduce children’s author Josie Dom to have a chat about the anti-bullying message in her delightful books and her popular Imagination & Creation Workshops. Over to Josie…
The Fun Stuff:
What part of the world do you come from?
I grew up in Halstead, north Essex and after a few years spent living in other towns in the south east and travelling the world, I returned to Halstead in 2007.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
As a young girl, I did not have any career ambitions. However, what I really wanted to be was a boy!
List three words to describe yourselves.
Playful, strong and introverted.
Who would play you in a film about your life?
If you had a super power, what would it be?
Teleportation – is that a super power or just a device? Anyway, I would like the ability to travel to new places without the boring journey and time needed to actually get there. I would definitely have much more interesting dog walks, if nothing else!
The Sensible Side:
Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you’re not writing?)
When I’m not writing, I am firstly being a Mum to my two children, and also working as a Virtual Assistant, occasionally walking our dog Frank (although that is my husband’s job really!). A lot of my time is taken up with marketing of my books and storytelling workshops or doing other admin work for my business. I am happy when we get to go away in our caravan, which surprises me as I didn’t think I’d enjoy it so much, but the opportunity to “get away from it all” with a few home comforts, but without the household chores is all it takes to bring me joy. We go all over the UK for my children’s sporting events – they both compete in orienteering and my son also competes in athletics and cross country, my daughter has started competing in gymnastics now so we’ll see where that takes us too. I’m mostly a spectator, but do also enjoy orienteering, but won’t put myself under pressure to compete – if I get around a course accurately, I am happy, however I’m unlikely to be the fastest!
I really started writing as a young girl, which I had forgotten about until I returned to writing when my children were very small. I didn’t decide to write as such, it was more a compulsion inspired by the activities of my baby and toddler and the stories and rhymes I would read to them.
Where did the inspiration for Lum come from?
Lum started life as a little rhyme to encourage my children to behave themselves when they were having a wash in the bathroom. I was, unfortunately, going through a bad situation where I was being bullied at the time, and overnight the rhyme became a story in my head. The next morning, I got up early and wrote the story and was surprised to find a twist in the behaviour of the children who had been bullied. A happy ending is very important.
You work with an illustrator, but what comes first; words or pictures?
For me, the words definitely come first. My illustrator is my husband. This is not his career although he is a good artist and it took a long time to persuade him to do this for me. Once he drew a witch and from that I was inspired to create a rhyme, but usually the words come first. He also has a mouse character which was his signature drawing as a teenager and I hope he will feature in a book soon. With Lum I gave him the words and left everything to his interpretation, so how Lum looks is down to him. With some stories I have definite ideas of the pictures required.
What excites you about writing children’s fiction?
Just writing is exciting to me. I also get excited seeing my stories come to life with illustrations and when they (finally) become books. Although it is daunting to do book readings, because as I mentioned, I am introverted, I always get a happy glow to see children enjoying the stories I tell and a buzz of achievement after every event.
Tell us more about your Imagination and Creation Workshops.
The idea for the Imagination & Creation Workshops came about after I attended a session aimed at encouraging play in nursery settings. The session really inspired me and Wendy Baker, the lady who ran the session, was happy for me to borrow the idea and develop it into workshops for primary school age children.
I enjoy encouraging children to use their imaginations to tell their own stories. My workshops are a writing-free zone so that all children can be involved irrespective of their academic abilities. It is often the case that children are discouraged from creating stories because writing is involved.
In schools, the workshops start with a few word games to get everyone’s brains in gear and an opportunity for everyone to relax a little. We then move on to talking about story characters and the children create a character using craft materials. The next part is putting the character into a story. At this stage, the children can work individually or in groups to create their story landscape using natural materials (seashells, pine cones, etc.) to transform tables. Right at the end of the session, those who feel comfortable (which is usually everyone) gets the chance to tell their story to their peers.
The concept is adapted for other events, such as Literary Festivals, where there may not be as much time. At the Essex Book Festival recently, the children worked in a group and transformed themselves into their own story characters (we had a bus driver, two mermaids, two dogs, a dragon, a pirate, a chameleon, a dinosaur, a fairy princess and a wise old owl) and then told one story where they all featured.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I would love to adapt Lum into a play to take into Primary Schools. The story has an important anti-bullying message and I feel this is a good way to share the message more widely.
My plan is to publish one children’s picture book per year through until 2022, and then increase output to two books per year until 2027.
In 2018, I entered a business competition to win trading time with Fenwick in Colchester. I was delighted to learn in October that I had won a week’s trading. I will be in their High Street store from 11-17 April. I will be running daily story-time sessions at 10.3am and 11.30am on 11, 12, 15, 16 & 17 (week days) and Imagination & Creation Storytelling Workshops at 11am-12noon on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14. Book up for the workshops directly with Fenwick or pop along at any time to have a chat, I’ll look forward to meeting you.
How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
You can email me at email@example.com or call me on 07941 755185.
My website is www.josiedom.co.uk where you can buy my books and you can find me on Facebook and Instagram (both @josiedomauthor). Keep up-to-date with my activities via my newsletter, www.josiedom.co.uk/newsletter-sign-up.
My books are also available on the following platforms:
Matador (my publisher)
Social Media Links: