Interview with Iona Danielson

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Yes I do; and subconsciously must be the reason that I've chosen the vintage-classic direction of my own books and e-books. The book was Disney's Water Babies Circus. I was so magically astounded by the water babies playing on lily pads and waking up as each water lily unfolded their petals to the sun's rays. It was an instant transportation into that world where I felt safe being surrounded by little water friends. My first book Tooey, Freckles & Ming: Their Beginning In Rainbow Land is all about such an experience with the animals and children all in one accord, happy, playing games, swimming with swans and having the ability to rise into the trees and sit with eagles. Even the rainbow food is magic and delicious.
How do you approach cover design?
It's a combination of what Rainbow Land itself is all about and what the main contents of that particular book is. For instance: In Rainbow Land winter never exists; therefore all the innumerable shades and tints of rainbow colors exist in in soft pastels to bright intensity everywhere. There is never a drab or cold landscape except if Wise Owl is in the Reading Room reading a story to the children about a little boy living and surviving in the desert such as the book Tooey, Freckles & Ming Read Short Stories Age 3-6 Volume 1 is about. So, to give the reader an instant story picture of the book contents, I show the rainbow over Castle Caring where each child and creature first arrive when they slide down the rainbow, a fruit tree in full spring blossom and a oversized placement of Wise Owl reading from a story book that's chosen by the children. The book Wise Owl reads from is large enough between his wing-hands that the reader knows instantly what story awaits them inside. All the stories chosen by the children for Wise Owl to read are carefully selected vintage classics that have proven their popularity over the ages both in story content and illustration quality.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
That's a hard one so let me answer it this way:
1. Historical Novels: Daphne DuMarier and James Clavell
2. Mysteries/Legal Thrillers: Tom Clancy, James Grisham, James Patterson, David Baldacci;
3. Can't Put Down Till Finished: Michael Crichton.
4. Mind Boggling Truth: Viktor E. Frankel, Malachi Martin, Immanuel Velikovsky, M. Scott Peck, M.D.
5. Should Be Obligatory Reading: Edward Gibbon The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; Nien Cheng Life and Death in Shanghai
What do you read for pleasure?
My newest escape read is anything by Nick Stephenson.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Giving away a few of my books for free is a great pleasure becuase it gives the reader a chance to know my work and decide if they want further works by me. If they like my works they will most likely be faithful customers.
Describe your desk
An old-fashioned well-crafted, hand-made-with-loving-care, wooden secretary with a fold down lid upon which rest an elevated laptop, Bamboo drawing tablet, carousel of pens, pencils and highlighters; a roller-ball mouse; a plate or bowl of hot food, a sandwich, cheese and crackers and always with an insulated covered Bubba Mug of coffee or tea. Inside the desk above the shelf are shelves and cubby holes. Below the shelf are push-to-open doors which reveal a shelf with above and below storage the width of the 3-1/2 ft. desk.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the largest cities of California, Seattle, Denver and a few years in smaller cities in Oklahoma and Tennessee. That experience was all about working for others and had almost nothing to do with my decision to write.
When did you first start writing?
About two years ago.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The latest book will always be part of the Tooey, Freckles & Ming Series until there are no more vintage classics available to incorporate into them. Rainbow Land will always have Wise Owl, Panda, the Rainbow Bears, SweetiePie, Tooey, Freckles and Ming somewhere in the story line and unique adventures in Rainbow Land will occur in each book. My latest book is the Flower Fantasy series which are Walter Crane's unique and delightful personifications of flowers in their woodland setting including a flower wedding. Some of the flowers are royal figures designated by their names, some are self-absorbed "narcisstic" who refuse to attend the wedding, some flowers are showy and bold, some quiet and shy, some common and without glamor but all their illustrations have much glamor and inventiveness and demonstrate precisely why Walter Crane is so renown as an illustrator/author.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
When I was eighteen, my best friend, who was head cheerleader at school said to me "Wow, you should write your autobiography." I just grinned, but never forgot what she said. Years later with more life experiences acquired, that unwritten autobiography is now begging for expression. My late husband was so brilliant and witty that many of his witticisms got accepted for publication. When he asked me to marry him I told him a reluctant no. He asked me why and I replied that I was afraid that after we got married he wouldn't be funny anymore. He laughed and came back with the instant retort: "Why? Do you think that I'll lose my repertoire!" That convinced me and I was never disappointed thereafter in his skill and ability with words. He was a master with the quick retort in any circumstance. I never knew why he married such a scatter-brained, fluffy-head illiterate, but he was kind. In fact, he gave me my first mystery novel to read entitled A Bag of Marbles. That book held me captive and encouraged me to try reading more books. His early life was all about books. They were his friends. My life was all about how my wardrobe looked and whether I had a date for the weekend.

Right after we got married he went to the library and got a library card and began to check out books. He brought me along on his trips to the library not because I had a burning desire to expand my literary horizons or become an interesting conversationalist, but because he needed me to carry the other armload of books the library allowed him to check out. Both arm loads were faithfully read and returned within the two weeks. On the way out of the library I jokingly told him he was "just disgusting." He just grinned and said, "Yes, ma'am!" When I asked him how he was able to read so fast he couldn't explain it adequately. It frustrated me to not know. I was a product of the public schools who was dumbed-down with the Look-Say method of Dick and Jane readers and never, God forbid, taught phonetics or speed reading techniques. They knew exactly what kind of citizen they wished to produce and I was a pliable victim who graduated with honors in stupidity. When my husband passed away, I was forced to face myself and unaccomplished life in a painful way. The majority of people who passed in and out of my life were brilliant, highly gifted and successful as far as humans judge a person to be. I was brilliant at being mediocre; my creativity was stifled very early and my individuality all-but-squashed. The nail that sticks up gets hammered down.

When I chose art as an elective class in high school, I was assigned to a geometry class instead. You want to talk about raging mad? The first day in class I told the tall, blond, handsome, friendly student-caring instructor in no uncertain terms that I was here only because someone overruled my art elective so I had no plans to study, do any homework and didn't care a flip if I passed the course or not. The poor man was speechless and just looked at me with compassion and quietly said "Okay." An F in the course would have looked really weird amidst on a history of A's and B's i addition to looking bad for his ability as a teacher, so he generously gave me a D which only angered me for his cowardice and untruthfulness. Years later when I needed to know how to bisect angles for a garden layout, I remembered that geometry class and mentally kicked myself for a talent in stubborn rebellion.

Now, coming around the barn to finish your question: My latent but slow burning desire to be a skilled fine artist was almost entirely squashed by circumstances. Only when I was a design draftsman of integrated circuits for Intel did I realize that drawing things made me happy; being a speed typist on the keyboard did not.

A very important life experience included finding and caring for abandoned and abused animals. Fortunately, my husband's father was employed at the Cleveland Zoo as a herpetologist and their home always had newborn critters to raise so my husband had a great skill with animals. So, with those ideas and experiences embedded in my brain it seemed natural to tell my own story, rather obliquely, in a way that might help others. Tooey, Freckles and Ming are real animals, not graphics. Ming had a kitten with her when she was spotted hiding in my woodpile. I caught her very hungry kitten first with a humane cage and then her separately, brought both into the house and opened the cage. They were wild, scared to death and unapproachable so I just left them alone, left plenty of fresh food out every day and a litter box they could easily find. It took about 18 months before Ming would let me pick her up and not freak out. I imagine that being burned all over repeatedly with hot cigarettes would do that to a beautiful loving and quiet Birman breed cat. That is Ming's story. Tooey and Freckles were abandoned and brought together in my house a year apart. Their story will be told in a book one day soon.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I'm very new to Smashwords but the author-friendly platform is like nothing I could ever imagine. Who needs the major publishing houses when then have Smashwords. It's dashboard is newbie friendly and tech support is super efficient. Any new authors would be delighted to be part of the Smashwords experience. Their company couldn't be more impressive and I'm happy to be a new member of the tribe.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Making up happy stories to match the graphics or finding the perfect graphic to match the story in my head. Much gratitude goes to illustrators who are fortunate enough to do that work for a living. That skill and career were denied me so I make up for it by helping them because their work helps me.
What are you working on next?
There is always a story to be told in Rainbow Land. Currently I'm in the middle of the Flower Fantasy series of three books. Two of the books will be about 40 pages as a picture book. The other book will be very, very long as there is over 85 flowers represented. That book may need to be divided up because no small child has an attention span that long.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
1. Knowing the contents of the Bill of Rights;
2. Dwelling on the words of the Emancipation Proclamation;
3. Believing that not to appreciate them is an insult to freedom.
4. Knowing that persons of noble characters, unafraid to stand up for what was right no matter what the cost allow me my current life of freedom;
5. Knowing that I am my own boss, that my schedule is my own, that I can offer my own product on the marketplace instead of having my own talents and desires squashed for the financial profit of the government or another person.
6. Taking responsibility, because of that freedom of liberty, to rise and fall on my own merits, no one else's.
7. Having the freedom to express whatever talent I choose and profit from it. Take lemons, make lemonade and sell it from an apple cart set in front of your house. That's free enterprise. That's what capitalism is all about. It's a beautiful word and noble endeavor. All other "isms" are repression.
These are the things that make me happy to get up in the morning knowing my new beginnings will be without hindrance or repression and that I do it all because of the American heritage of Christian influenced capitalism--however fleeting.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Reading, gardening, caring for Tooey, Freckles and Ming; keeping the squirrels, chipmunks and birds fed, pruning the fruit trees and staying in bondage to the crab grass.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes, it was the Rhyming Alphabet which is currently available in the Tooey, Freckles & Ming series.
Published 2015-03-05.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Tooey, Freckles & Ming's Favorite Classic Short Stories Age 3-6 In Rainbow Land Book 1
Price: Free! Words: 110. Language: English. Published: March 19, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Classics, Fiction » Christian » Fantasy releases a new series featuring the familiar characters of Rainbow Land and the familiar characters of vintage classic books known and loved by children for over a century. Vintage stories should not be lost and forgotten. Their author/illustrators were renown for a reason and this generation should have the privilege of knowing who they are by seeing their works in print again.
Tooey, Freckles & Ming Read Fairy Tales In Rainbow Land Volume 1
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 100. Language: English. Published: November 11, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Fairy tales & fables, Fiction » Children’s books » Stories in Verse
This book is 144 pages of getting to know more about the characters in Rainbow Land. SweetiePie sleeps soundly enclosed in the petals of a water lily and Baby Giraffe comes to greet her and take her to play time and the reading room. The Twins and Spot are introduced for the first time. Spot is not into fairy tales but prefers to learn about endnagered animals, but Cinderella wins the day.
Tooey, Freckles & Ming Read Short Stories Age 3-6 In Rainbow Land Volume 3
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 100. Language: English. Published: March 6, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Classics, Fiction » Children’s books » Animals
Each short story is a famous classic work rescued from obscurity. The children in the Reading Room of Rainbow Land choose a classic book to be read by Wise Owl. The book is read and it is then snack time when everyone is able to enjoy their several rainbow snacks: Rainbow Macaroons, Rainbow Ice Cream, and Rainbow Sherbet. Some of the Rainbow Bears enjoy their snack in the Tree House.
Tooey, Freckles & Ming: A Flower Fantasy in Rainbow Land Volume 1
Price: Free! Words: 120. Language: English. Published: March 5, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Fairy tales & fables, Fiction » Children’s books » Poetry
This is a new short series showcasing the illustrative works of Walter Crane and others who beautifully personify flowers of every kind and put them into a story setting with rhyme. This first volume offers the children who are assembled in the Reading Room of Caring Castle in Rainbow Land a delightful and entertaining story about a Flower Wedding.
Tooey, Freckles & Ming Read Short Stories Age 3-6 In Rainbow Land Volume 2
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 110. Language: English. Published: March 4, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Christian » Short stories, Fiction » Children’s books » Social Issues / Death & Dying
This is the second volume of the Tooey, Freckles & Ming Reads Short Stories Age 3-6. Wise Owl is a one of the primary readers in the Reading Room at Rainbow Land. The story that Wise Owl reads to the children in any particular volume will be identifiable as a book being held by Wise Owl on the cover. In this volume the story being read to the children is Hans Christian Anderson's story The Angel.
Tooey, Freckles & Ming Read Short Stories Age 3-6 In Rainbow Land Volume 1
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 120. Language: English. Published: March 2, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Action & Adventure / Survival Stories, Fiction » Children’s books » People & Places / Middle East
This is the first volume of the Tooey, Freckles & Ming Reads Short Stories Age 3-6. The book being read to the children in this volume is Abdul of Arabia which introduces young readers to a different culture, different architecture, different salutations and different but critical methods of desert survival. It is an interesting read for the young reader with a nice, comfortable feel-good ending.
Tooey, Freckles & Ming's Rhyming Alphabet In Rainbow Land presented by The Rainbow Bears
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 100. Language: English. Published: February 28, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Concepts / Alphabet, Fiction » Children’s books » Readers / Beginner
This book in the Tooey, Freckles & Ming series introduces the very important characters of The Rainbow Bears who are guardians of all the children and animals in Rainbow Land. The three Primary Guardians are Tooey, Freckles and Ming. In this book, each letter of the alphabet has a Rainbow Bear attached to the letter and many of the letters have a Rainbow Bear participant in the story-rhyme.
Tooey, Freckles & Ming Read Picture Books In Rainbow Land Volume 1
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 100. Language: English. Published: February 24, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Animals, Fiction » Children’s books » Classics
The READ PICTURE BOOKS series is written for toddlers and offers another inside look into Rainbow Land--where it is, how to get there, who lives there and what everyone does there. It's a magical land with happy learning adventures.
Tooey, Freckles & Ming Meet SweetiePie in Rainbow Land
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 110. Language: English. Published: February 23, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Animals, Fiction » Children’s books » Fairy tales & fables
This is the second book in the Tooey, Freckles & Ming series. It introduces SweetiePie who just arrived in Rainbow Land yesterday as detailed in the first series book entitled IN RAINBOW LAND. In this book SweetiePie meets new friends in the Reading Room and Panda and Wise Owl take turns reading to her. After snack time she returns to her room with BabyGiraffe her newest friend.
Tooey, Freckles & Ming In Rainbow Land
Price: Free! Words: 80. Language: English. Published: February 21, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Animals, Fiction » Children’s books » Animals
This is the first book in the Tooey, Freckles and Ming series that introduces the reader to all the characters that come together in great love and friendship in Rainbow Land. Children and creatures live in joyous harmony in play. They have an all-day festival that celebrates the meeting and welcoming of new arrivals, enjoy sweet, delicious Rainbow Food and watch fireworks on Rainbow Lake.
Tooey, Freckles and Ming's Animal Alphabet In Rainbow Land
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 100. Language: English. Published: February 10, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Children's Books » Concepts / Alphabet, Nonfiction » Education & Study Guides » Special education / learning disabilities
This is the first offering of the Tooey, Freckles, and Ming series of children's books. It is a baby's first alphabet picture book of animals from around the world. Some animals drink nectar from flowers; some swim with whales and dolphins; some hide in empty sea shells on the bottom of the ocean; some hide deep in the rainforest and are rarely seen; and some live high in the mountains of Tibet.