Mawson, the big hearted, soul searching teddy bear, is here to help. One of this bright world’s few writer-bears, he ponders about how to be one’s best especially when feeling a little lost, a little sad.
A modest bear of generous proportions, distinctive in his white fur coat and bow tie, he’s always confident deep in his inner-most stuffing, that things are going to be All Right.
Today we’re chatting with Mawson’s guardian Mark O’Dwyer as part of our month-long featured author promo.
What drew you (and Mawson) to create your heartwarming teddy bear books?
I was looking for a gentle little book to give a friend who was feeling sad. I wanted something that would give a little solace, bring a quiet smile. There were books promising laughter that seemed to me, honestly, derivative and humourless. There were shelves of self help, motivational and philosophical books, and titles tending to various religious views. All these, in their way offered Answers. But my friend did not need Answers just then. She would be more calmed by the thought that lots of people also feel baffled and anxious about Just About Everything. It’s all right to feel that way because Everything really is baffling. She was not alone.
But the quiet sort of book I wanted did not seem to exist. I set out to make such a one myself. By great good fortune, it is now out in the world.
Are there any authors who inspired you to write these books?
Writers who touch the heart with seemingly simple text combined with images impress me. I have always wanted to emulate them. They include Charles Schultz with his ‘Little People’ (or ‘Peanuts’), Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes, AA Milne’s Winnie the Pooh books, the art of Shaun Tan, and Richard Bach’s Jonathon Livingston Seagull.
Are your characters and settings based upon your own life experiences?
It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In is about exactly the feeling in the title. Our world is bright and astonishing. It is also bewildering. Though I enjoy a mostly very good life, I often feel ‘at a loss’ and indefinably anxious. It took me a long time to see that I am hardly alone in this. In my little books I attempt to convey these feelings. Mawson and his friends worry about how to Be Their Best. Eventually though, they reassure one another that they are all right just as they are.
What is your biggest motivation for writing?
I yearned to one day be able to add a few fine strands of colour to the infinite fabric of our world. I hope that through these little books of quiet thoughts (‘ponders’), I am managing to do so.
How many books have you written?
I have one book out in the world called It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In and one just out [today!] called She Ran Away from Love. I have completed another, Dreamy Days and Random Naps, and am creating a fourth.
What would you say is your biggest accomplishment?
Several readers of It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In told me they so enjoyed the quiet half hour it gave them as they sat alone with nostalgic feelings that they intended to pass the book on to friends. For me, no praise can be higher than that something you made has become a random gift of kindness, reinforcing a friendship.
What advice would you give a young writer trying to get published?
Write and revise, young bears, write and revise. Words can be tricky things so often seek help about the shape of what you have done. Ask other eyes to proofread. Now consider the right publisher for your style and subject. Gather up your pages and keep on sending them to agents and publishers until they find a home. Meantime, let that book go and turn to the next one, which you will write and revise, write and revise. And proofread.
What helps you when you hit writer’s block?
When the tone of the story feels wrong and the pictures don’t work, I wander off. I might take photographs by the river. Read a book. Sit a while with Mawson. Sometimes I hear a spoken line or see an event that gives me a new idea, the classic nudge of ‘inspiration’, but mostly I just pick up again after a break, and then the flow of it all starts again almost by itself.
Describe your writing style in three words.
Quiet. Thoughtful. Warm.
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