MP: Hello Saoirse. It is a pleasure to have you today at Mandy’s Pages. Before we proceed with the interview that we scheduled, I’d like to wish you a Happy Birthday - from me and all our readers. I’m sure today’s an exciting day for you; one that you will remember for a long time.
While I have had the honor of making your acquaintance through Facebook, and of course, getting to know your work through MJ Logan, I’d like you to give a first-hand description of yourself for my readers out there.
SO: Hi, I’m Saoirse O’Mara, or Theresa Berg, depending on who you ask. I use both names for publishing. Most of my books are written for children and teenagers/YA, but I know that many adults also enjoy reading them (together with their children or alone). I write and publish books in both German and English but Miro the Dragon is the only book that’s available in both languages so far (German title: Miro der Drache).
That’s very impressive Saoirse. Imagine… writing in two languages, when many of us struggle with just one! Hats off to you! How did you start writing?
I think I started writing as soon as I had figured out that I can produce words by stringing together strange signs called letters. Back in elementary school, I wrote a short theatre play and started rehearsing with some of my classmates but for some reason I don’t remember, we had to cancel the play. A few years later, I started and finished my first complete book; an adventure story leaned on Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series. The manuscript is still safely stored away….
Mike Williams has read your book and is very impressed with your writing. I am referring to your book ‘Miro the Dragon’. What is the back cover version of your book?
Drakonia…. Land of the dragons, ancient and proud creatures. Drakonia... home of Miro, a tiny and frightened red dragon who is still trying to find his place in the world. On his journey to become a “real” dragon, he makes some unusual new friends and discovers that friendship can overcome the greatest fears. Miro’s stories tell of courage and friendship without boundaries or prejudices.
Behind every successful writer is...
…a long way of learning, of struggles, disappointment, and hard but constructive criticism. There’s an inner passion driving us on, an inner strength to overcome obstacles (including our own pride and hurt when the first criticism comes around). Hopefully, there are also people (friends, family) behind a successful writer, people who believe in the writer and who are willing to be part of this journey.
When one sets out to write a book, it can take forever. I know I still struggle with the two books I started six years ago. How much time do you spend writing?
Not enough to keep up with all the ideas my muse comes up with. I’m a rather slow writer, which doesn’t really help either, but I try to write regularly. This might be an hour in a café between appointments, or three hours late at night when I’m home alone, or there might be days where I hardly do anything else (except make coffee and throw together something vaguely reminding of food, mostly consisting of chocolate).
I have to admit I haven’t yet read your book, but I find your description of Miro the Dragon very appealing. What makes this book special to you?
Miro was the first true children’s book I had ever written. The tiny dragon won my heart at once and insisted that I write down more of his adventures, so I set to work. This one “children’s story with a dragon in it”, which I had written for a storyteller (who ultimately never got back to me), grew into a series of stories that children and adults of all ages and from various nations enjoy and cherish.
Dragons are an attractive theme upon which to build a book. There have been other authors who’ve written books about dragons and how to draw dragons and the like. How is your book different from other books in this genre?
Well, I know for a fact that Miro doesn’t really fit into any of the various children’s book categories (at least it didn’t when I last checked, and that was before I decided to self-publish my books). But then, I don’t understand why people try to squeeze books into tight categories anyway. Miro’s fans range from toddlers all the way up to parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, so determining a set age group covering maybe two or three years seems insufficient.
Since you mention that your book doesn’t fall into any specific genre because of the nature of the book, who do you think should buy your book?
Well, since “everyone” isn’t a valid answer, I’ll say this: Whoever needs a bit more courage every now and then, or feels afraid of something or some situation, might gain something from Miro’s stories. Apart from that, it’s easy: Everyone who loves dragons and cherishes children’s books. Miro’s fans range from age 2/3 up to the grandparents and great-grandparents.
Wow. With readers from a wide range of age groups, I gather it is tough to write in a style that appeals to everyone. There are many of us who aspire to write with conviction and talent. What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Write. Whether you’re a plotter or someone who just writes without any structure, your story won’t get done unless you sit down and write it. When you’re done writing, get honest and constructive feedback. Swallow your pride, and prepare for the blow. The first honest feedback can hurt really much, but it’s probably the best that can happen to you as a writer. Then, write some more and improve.
For one who is a prolific writer, there is probably a constant urge to write. If it is not writing in progress there is always some story or plot or idea that always brews in the back recesses of one’s mind. Are you working on any major writing projects or books?
Oh, I’m always working on several projects. Right now, I’m finishing A Rogue’s Tale Part II for publication (release date is set for November) while already writing Part III (hopefully to be published in early spring 2013). I’m also working on a second volume of Miro stories, and on a new series of short stories for gamers.
Since you have the second volume for Miro the Dragon in progress, it goes to show that you have some vision about your main character. What is the scope of the first volume that makes you want to write the next?
Miro the Dragon contains four stories about Miro and his struggles to learn things every dragon needs to know, such as flying or breathing fire. The stories tell about unusual friendships and the courage to conquer one’s fears with the help of friends.
It is interesting how you started writing about a dragon. What was your inspiration or motivation behind the creation of this book? Is there anyone who deserves special mention for the completion and artistic presentation of your first volume of Miro the Dragon?
I wrote the first Miro story for a storyteller who had asked me to write a fable with a dragon for young children. Since she never came back to me once the story was finished, though, I decided to adopt Miro and let him tell me more of his adventures. The book would only be half as charming, however, without its marvellous illustrations. Kudos to Svenja Liv, my awesome illustrator and cover designer!
Saoirse, I appreciate you sparing your time for this interview. It is wonderful to read about your achievements and feel your writing spirit. I hope you are equally motivated and inspired to move ahead with your plans for future projects - with even more zeal and determination. Here’s wishing you a Happy Birthday and blessing you with even more brilliance and success in all your endeavors.
Saoirse O’Mara aka Theresa Berg is a young German children’s and YA book writer. She feels home mostly in the fantasy genre and strives to publish professional books which will be thoroughly enjoyed by her readers. Most of her books are written in English since she fell in love with the English language at first contact, back in her childhood.
Miro the Dragon is available in the following formats:
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