I had the good fortune to interview Rob Peacock this week to discuss his very busy lifestyle. Mr. Peacock resides on the “other side of the pond” on everyone’s favorite Emerald Isle.
Being an American, I thoroughly enjoyed the description of the landscapes he views everyday: landscapes that have filled up my imagination and sometimes the pages of my stories since I was a child.
When he isn’t busy writing and illustrating books about his favorite canine companion, Cara, Rob spends his time rescuing abused animals, gardening, and as you’ll soon find out a host of many other eco-friendly ventures, to which I applaud and say, “Well done!”
Now that you’ve been introduced to Rob, let’s get to know a little more about this environmentally conscious man.
What inspired you to become a writer?
I spent my childhood immersed in books, since my mother was a librarian and my grandfather was a keen amateur writer.
I adored the stories and poetry I read, particularly favouring the likes of Hilda Boswell compendiums, Eric and Lucy Kincaid, the Steve Jackson ‘Fighting Fantasy’ gaming books, and of course the wealth of traditional fairy tales available.
My mother was a great one for sourcing wonderfully illustrated copies of books, and I enjoyed being transported into alternative worlds through the power of words and illustrations on a daily and nightly basis.
Writing and illustrating really began for me as a means to express my own imagination and preserve my thoughts onto paper.
And then along came Cara, my black Border Collie/Labrador cross. With her mischievous puppy antics and adorable personality, I saw in her the perfect muse.
From the first few months when my hens adopted her as one of their own, through our travels around Ireland, to her current role as a Therapy Dog, she never ceases to provide inspiration for my work!
Is writing your full-time profession?
Writing is certainly a big part of my life, but not my full-time profession, as I’ve so many irons in other fires.
Life in rural Ireland simply offers too many opportunities to do other things, and I spend my working time between writing, illustrating, rescue and rehabilitation of seriously neglected and abused animals, ethical dairy farming and milking, cattle-birthing, Therapy Dog training, landscape gardening and land management.
I’m also a world music percussionist for dancers and run drum circles and primitive music workshops. And of course, the occasional proof-reading and editing for other authors. I also grow giant vegetables for displays and seasonal festivals. Pumpkins are my speciality!
How long have you been writing?
Essentially I have been writing most of my life, noting down interesting daily occurrences, or composing poetry and jotting down excerpts from my thoughts, as well as short stories. It is only in the last two years that I have been writing to earn a crust, however.
Which genres do you write?
I write and illustrate children’s books, with Cara, my Labrador/Border Collie cross, as my main character.
I also write poetry, each with an open theme, depending on the moment of inspiration. Usually surrounding my own life experiences. I entered a good few writing contests with those.
What do you find most challenging about writing for your genre?
I find being a writer for children fairly straight forward, in that I am fortunate enough to have Cara as my main inspiration. She in herself appeals to kids and readers of all ages!
I am also from rural Ireland, and the locality lends itself to the theme, in that it is steeped in Irish folklore. I live on the ancient bogland between Cill na Sí (Church of the fairies) and Cor na Dabhcha (Round Hill of the Cauldron) where legend has it lies a crock of gold.
Fairy forts are abundant here, and rainbow’s ends are a common sight! I also have a background in Special Needs education, therefore having an understanding of the spectrum literacy needs is very useful.
The real challenge I find is the marketing aspect, and one has to adopt a customer mindset for that. It’s really about building a following amongst a plethora of other children’s authors, building a trust in your work and reputation for a great story and an aesthetically pleasing product.
How many books have you written?
I have self-published two books, Cara and the Mystery of the Missing Ball, and Cara and the Cauldron of the Round Hill.
Though I have written many more on a variety of themes, which are currently scribbled into jotter pads for future formatting and illustrating.
Not to mention a good few stories which are still at the development stage, composed on scattered pieces of paper, and stored in the corners of my imagination!
What has been your most rewarding experience since publishing your work?
One of my beta readers is a former student whose parents I keptin contact with. He is now in his twenties and has Asperger’s Syndrome.
He has given me great feedback on my unedited manuscripts and illustrations, and I present my books in a story-board format which facilitates a comfortably structured read for those on the autistic spectrum.
Not that my books aren’t for all children. I just have faith that my design and writing style accommodates all readers, whatever their level of ability.
I am also proud to be supporting the Summer Stars reading initiative here in Ireland, which encourages children to read as many books as they are able over the summer holidays. This culminates in an award ceremony, where local dignitaries and fellow creatives present young readers with prizes and certificates of achievement.
What advice would you give to authors just starting out?
I’d say focus on the pleasure of developing your stories and putting them onto paper when you start out. Try not to think of it as a potential business at that stage, as it can take the joy out of it. Writing doesn’t make many of us millionaires, and certainly not over night!
Can you tell us a little about Kids Active Media?
Kids Active Media is an online self-publishing service, essentially based on a directory of authors, illustrators, proof readers, and editors. You can join at varying levels of membership. I opted for the free profile, which includes a header, short bio, profile photo, links to my books, and a contact form.
What inspired you to support The Woodland Trust?
Kids Active Media subscriptions include small donations to the Woodland Trust, which is a UK based conservation charity with a mission to replenish diminishing wildlife habitats with native species of trees.
I myself am very interested in the preservation of nature, and as a wildlife rehabilitator, I am very concerned at the number of dwindling species, and the destruction of their habitats. The Woodland Trust does a great job in trying to prevent this.
Is there anything else you’d like your readers to know about you?
Yes, I am currently promoting the official launch of Cara and the Cauldron of the Round Hill, which will be held at Lanesboro library, Co. Longford, Ireland. I will be reading and signing copies of the book.
The launch is part of Ireland’s Children’s Book month. I will also be displaying one of my home-grown giant pumpkins in the run up to Halloween, featuring seasonally themed children’s books. I am having a guess the weight competition, and will be awarding prizes to the winners (with the closest guesses) on the night of my launch.
Can you tell us about any new releases coming out?
Cara and the Cauldron of the Round Hill is my latest publication, but I am working on new material to be released next year!
What are you working on now?
I am working on my third and fourth ‘Cara’ books, which are centred around the themes of Samhajn and Christmas.
I am keen to incorporate more Irish folklore into my work, and am busily developing the stories and working on the eighty illustrations that will accompany each book.
What are your favorite books, movies, TV shows?
I am still a big fan of Hilda Boswell and Eric and Lucy Kincaid. These hark back to my own childhood and were incredibly influential in my creative development.
I’m not a great watcher of movies.. fast cars, guns and karate do nothing for me. I do enjoy history however, and Black 47, the recent movie about the Irish Genocide, looks quite good.
Not sure how accurate the historical detail will be, but no matter.
TV shows, I enjoy the likes of Father Ted, Black Books, and many of the American comedy series too.
Where can we learn more about you?
I also welcome interest in the things I am doing and enjoy networking. Please feel free to contact me via https://www.kidsactivemedia.com/robertpeacock-author (where you can also find links to purchase my books!) or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org