Saturday, February 23, 2013

Easy answers...

Answers to some frequently asked questions:

Q: How old are you?
A: The answer, of course, is a moving target, but it's easy enough to figure out when you know I was born in 1962.

Q: Do you own a horse?
A: At the moment I have three - Bonny (the mare in the photo above), a Section D Welsh cob mare, Brio, her foal (now five years old and about the size Bonny in the picture), and Ringo, a Welsh cob/Hackney pony cross. Brio's sire was a Gypsy cob called Fiddler.

Q: Is that your natural hair colour?
A: Ok, this one isn't asked very often, but the answer is yes. I have brown hair. When I was a child my hair was blond and over the years it has become quite dark.

Thanks again to the students at Cloverdale who submitted so many good questions. I still have quite a stack to get through!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Student Questions - Answered

If you were not an author, what would you be?
When I was 10, my list of possible professions looked like this:
-horse breeder/trainer
-world traveller (I know that's not a job, but I wanted to do a lot of travelling)

In high school, my list of possible professions looked like this:
-actress or stand-up comic
-horse breeder/trainer

At univeristy, my list of possible professions looked like this:
-brain surgeon (specialty - surgical interventions for dementia and studying neurological disorders that affect personality)
-doctor of Eastern medicine
-organic farmer

After graduation, my list of possible professions looked like this:
-organic farmer

Today, I'm very happy to say that I have managed to integrate a lot of my earlier interests into my working life (except for accounting. That was a strange phase and not one I particularly enjoyed). I split my time between writing, performing, and farming. I am still very interested in healing/medicine, particularly in combining the best of western medicine with healing traditions from cultures around the world. Because I raise livestock on my farm (turkeys, chickens, ducks, horses, goats, sheep, and Large Black Hogs), I wind up doing vet stuff on a pretty regular basis, even though I never made it to vet school! A lot of my early interests also involved being self-sufficient, living off the grid, and having a homestead somewhere in a wild place in Canada.

I'm not farming on a quarter section of land that first had to cleared so I could build myself a cozy cabin, but I am doing quite a few home-steady things - milking a goat and making cheese, growing more and more of my own food, building lots of things to be used on the farm, and canning and drying the food I grow. With the help of some herbalist neighbours, I've also been experimenting with growing herbs that can be used in cooking and which also have medicinal properties. I also do a bit of yoga and meditate regularly, so in a small way I'm also continuing to explore my interest in natural healing alternatives.

When I think about it, even though I work a lot of hours every week doing all the different things I do, I love my life. In many ways I am living my dream life and that's pretty cool! 

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Another student question: Do people walk up to you on the street and ask, "Oh my gosh you're Nikki Tate?" Do you like that stuff?
Technically, those are two questions. The first is easier to answer. Yes, occasionally people do recognize me, particularly when I've just done a series of school presentations in a very small town. It's inevitable that later the same day in the grocery store or local coffee shop someone will come up to me to say hello. I sometimes review books on the CBC and I've had people recognize my voice when I've been having a conversation in a public place. But big-time fame? Not so much. I can walk around most places (particularly if I keep my mouth shut) and people have no idea who I am.
As for liking or not liking it when people do recognize me, that is a bit harder question to answer. A big part of my personality is very private so it's very, very strange to me that people who have read my books or have seen me perform somewhere know a lot more about me than I know about them. I think it's pretty normal for people who have read a book or seen a performer feel like they know that person - so, it's pretty normal to walk over to say hi. Once I get over the shock of an encounter like that, of course it's very cool to know people are out there reading and enjoying my books. I've met some really interesting people I never would have met otherwise, which appeals to a different side of my personality, the part that is very gregarious and loves people! There is nothing quite so much fun as a great chat with stranger. Even better is when that stranger becomes a friend. Those surprising connections are some of the delights in my life!

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

More Student Questions

How long does it take you to come up with your books?
That depends. Some books seem to flow pretty easily - others are more painful (and slow, frustrating, and unpleasant) to finish. One of the books that took the longest to write was Grandparents' Day - and that's my shortest book! On average, though, it takes about three months for me to do the first draft of a novel. After that, depending on how many changes the editor suggests, it can take another year or so to do all the re-writing. Sometimes things go more smoothly and the rewriting is done much more quickly. After everyone is happy with the text, the production team goes to work on the book. Design, layout, proofreading, and cover design and artwork all take time - so it can easily be two or three years from the moment when I wake up with an idea for a new book until the day I actually get to hold a new book in my hands. Patience is definitely a virtue in this business! I might add that those timelines only apply to books that actually get accepted for publication. I have several that I've written, but which have not yet found homes with a publisher.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Student Questions - Answered!

This week I had the pleasure of spending some time with students at Cloverdale Traditional School in Victoria. And a pleasure it was, indeed, in no small part to the fantastic preparation done by classroom teachers and Sarah Mcleod, teacher-librarian extraordinaire!! It makes such a difference when students have had a chance to look over my books, talk about them in class, have something read aloud... Every child also had to think up a question for me, each of which was written on a slip of paper. I received the stack of questions ahead of time, which was handy as I was able to answer a couple that wouldn't normally have been covered in the presentations.

Each talk does cover a lot of ground, but there were a few questions we didn't get to, so I thought I'd post some student questions (and my best effort at answers) here on the blog over the next little while. Here goes with the first couple:

What is your favourite colour?

The tulips in my garden come in
some pretty spectacular colours!
This should be a simple question, but my favourite colour changes with the seasons. In the spring, I cannot get enough of the various shades of pink that grace the different varieties of cherry and plum trees here in Victoria. Driving into town the other day, I noticed the very first pale blossoms starting to appear! That means the glorious pink blossoms on the trees at our place won't be far behind. I also love the deep crimson red colour that I see all the time in the barnyard - the colour of rooster combs and the fleshy bits on the heads and throats of my tom turkeys. There is a very particular intense blue of a hot summer sky that I adore. Maybe because all those bright colours are so, well, bright, my favourite colour of clothing is black.

Do you like turtles?
Certainly. What's not to like about turtles? As an animal lover, I can't actually think of an animal I don't like. Except for mosquitoes, perhaps - though even those nasty little nibblers provide feasts for other, much lovelier creatures like bats and barn swallows. What I like most about turtles is the way they look (some of those shell patterns are works of art, don't you think?) and the way they deeply appreciate the warmth of the sun. I love how they crawl up out of the water and snooze on logs or rocks... I am also very impressed by the turtles that dig holes in the sand where they bury their eggs. That's pretty cool. One of my favourite stories is the one about the turtle and the hare. The idea that slow and steady wins the race certainly applies to anyone who ever hopes to finish a book!!