Daddy's Brilliant Beard, by Katherine Turner

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Today I will be championing a debut author and one who has gone at it alone without an agent or publisher. No mean feat and pretty scary to jump in at the deep end, especially when you are taking a chance on yourself. In Britain we champion small businesses and we love what Katherine Turner she stands for. 

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When I come across a kindred spirit who has pursued their dream off their own back, no matter the obstacle I like to give credit where credit is due, especially in the arts. These artists have stood up for their dreams, and not allowed the, 'what ifs' to stop them in their tracks.

This summer we were in Kent visiting family and Katherine Turner had a stall in the market place where she was doing readings of her book and encouraging kids to do the free crafts she had set up. I didn't realise there was a book initially. I spotted the arts and crafts table a mile off and bee lined toward it with the Little Feet. Then Katherine came over and asked if we wanted to listen to the book. So over the Little Feet went and sat on these dinky wooden stools in front of her. And so, that is where we first heard her book, 'Daddy's Brilliant Beard.'

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The book is funny, easy to read and the illustrations are fab. My almost two year old loves it and will regularly ask me to read it to her. My 4 year, literally every single time I read it will make sure that I don't miss out the speech bubbles scattered throughout the book. She's right too, they add to the story, especially if you read it with proper voices and some theatrical flare. To sum it up, it is a light hearted and just lovely book to have as part of your collection and unlike Daddy Big Feet, if your Little Feet's Daddy has a beard it is a MUST for the bookcase! 

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So who is Katherine Turner?

Well, you are in luck as we found out for you by asking a few questions!

Hi Katherine, thanks for much for taking the time and answering a few questions we had for you.

so your book... can you tell us what it is about?

My book is about a Daddy, whose long and hairy beard gets him into lots of trouble with the town. With his daughter beside him, he wants to show everyone how brilliant his beard can really be.

Is the Daddy in this book inspired by someone?

The Daddy is inspired by a mixture of people and characters, who have intrigued, fascinated and entertained me. One of these people, was a friend I made in Australia, whose beard would get him into mischief, mostly at meal times. The character Repunzel, also inspired me, with how useful long hair can be for all sorts of tasks.

What did you study at university and what made you want to write a book and why a children's book?

I studied Fine Art and Art Therapy, which helped me break free from a lot of my traditional art methods and learn to experiment with new techniques and find my own style. 

I never thought I’d become an author, although I did love writing random stories as a child, but English was never really my strongest subject at school. I do love to entertain people and one of the ways I have found to do this is through telling stories through illustrations. 

I have worked with children all my life, especially with kids on the edge, and those who haven’t had the easiest upbringings. So one of the reasons I like children’s books, is because I have found art and stories to be a great way to help children overcome struggles and learn great lessons. 

Did the story come first or the illustrations?

With ‘Daddy’s Brilliant Beard’, the story came first and then the illustrations. But usually the pictures and words influence each other through the whole process. With this book I started with a basic story plot and then mapped it out with quick sketches, but then as my illustrations developed the story changed and involved, and ended up being completely different by the end. 

You self-published. What challenges did you face and what advice do you have for budding authors?

I decided to self-publish this book, for a few reasons. Firstly I found the whole publishing process very complicated and quite discouraging at times. In the end I discovered that if you don’t have an agent or haven’t already been published then it usually comes down to sending your story to the right person at the right time. And although I wouldn’t be against trying this again, I found it very time consuming and unhelpful. When one of my story ideas would be rejected I had no idea what it was they didn’t like, so it was hard to know how or what to work on. Also, with self-publishing I liked that I had full control on how everything looked and the power to change what I wanted to change. However there are definitely pros and cons to both, so I’d advise to research both and see which would work best for you. 

My advise to authors who are looking to get their book published is to join a critique group. I joined one through the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (www.scbwi.org), which meet once a month and has been very helpful. There are people in the group who have a lot more experience and knowledge than I do, and advised me on events to go to; competitions to enter and just generally encouraged me to keep going. We also read each others stories and give feedback, which was hugely helpful in how my book developed.

I would also say that it’s good to get a balance between listening to advise and suggestions of others, whilst still holding on to your story. It’s great to adapt, shape and let your work be influenced, but not so much that you completely lose what you created. 

Where can we buy your book?

At the moment you can buy my book through my website, www.ktdesigns.me, or from HatHats coffee shop in Reculver and the HatHats coffee van in Chestfield.

Are you writing another one and if so when can we expect to be able to buy it?

I am currently working on two new stories; one of which is a Christmas story, which I am hoping will be ready for this Christmas 2018. You can look out for updates on my Instagram @kturnerdesigns and Facebook page KT Designs.

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So there you have it folks, some insight into what it is like to self publish your own book, the pros and cons. So if you are all about supporting small businesses, then guys, this is it. Self published authors are in the same boat, we are small businesses too. We are just beginning and have one product to sell to get us off the starting blocks. Help us spread the love of reading to Little Feet. It is a great, light hearted read with fun illustrations and it is a firm favourite with my Little Feet.

You can buy it on Amazon too! Find it here.

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