So excited to have author David Nielsen today on the blog for a quick interview about his newly released middle-grade novel, Dr. Fell and The Playground of Doom. David is nice enough to answer few questions for me about his writing experiences, inspirations and more. I hope you all enjoy the interview.
To know more about Dr. Fell and The Playground of Doom and David Nielsen, check the author’s bio and book’s description that follows after the interview.
Interview with David Nielsen
Tell us a bit about your journey with DR. FELL AND THE PLAYGROUND OF DOOM. When did you first come up with the idea and what were the timescales involved between the first draft and the novel being accepted for publication?
The idea for Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom came from an illustration done by the late children’s illustrator Trina Schart Hyman. It was on the wall of my in-laws’ house and it caught my eye. It depicts an old man in a suit and top hat leering down at a little girl, who looks back suspiciously. On his back he’s wearing a basket out of which stick a number children’s arms, legs, and heads. Intrigued, I looked up Dr. Fell and discovered the original four-line poem written in 1680. Suddenly I wanted to know more about this character. What was he up to? What did he want? What would happen if he moved into the neighborhood?
The story came quite easily. I had the first draft in September, 2014, in about two months. From there I went through a short round of comments and edits from my friends and regular readers and sent it to my agent in October of 2014. Crown Books for Young Readers picked it up three months later in January, 2015.
As a writer, do you feel like you are writing yourself or pieces of yourself in DR. FELL AND THE PLAYGROUND OF DOOM? Why?
I don’t think a writer can help but put pieces of themselves into their work. As I was writing the story, each of my three protagonists took on certain aspects of myself, but definitely magnified. Gail trusts authority and doesn’t want to rock the boat. Jerry intensifies my nerdier elements, and also lives a bit of my childhood in being top of the class but not all that popular. Nancy is more like a tame version of my Id. She gets to be the smart alec and brat I always wanted to be, often saying what she really thinks rather than just saying what is expected of her.
Dr. Fell embodies a dark nature that we all have inside of us.
How does your previous experience as an actor influenced your writing? Does it make things easier being exposed with scripts or more of a challenge?
At first, being used to working with scripts made writing prose more difficult, because all I knew was dialogue. I was actually quite nervous when I first attempted true prose. It was only after my first few short stories got mainly positive feedback that I began to feel secure enough to attempt a larger work, such as a novel. My familiarity with dialogue is, I believe, a real strength in writing engaging work for young readers.
My acting experience also influences me as I write in how I see the scenes in my head as I write them. I visualize every moment in my story as if it were on stage, and try to capture that image and place it on the page.
If one of your characters could turn the tables on you and write a story based on your life, what would the title of that book be and what would be the first line?
The only character in the book I can imagine having the interest and patience to write a book about me would be Gail. Were she to come up with my life story, she might call it “Late Bloomer.” I imagine a first line might be something like, “For some reason, it took David over 40 years to start writing children’s books.”
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you for joining me on this journey into the slightly-dark world of Dr. Fell, I hope you enjoyed yourself. I am really quite fond of the Bad Doctor, and there are more tales about his nasty, unpleasant, nefarious deeds I hope to bring to life in the near future.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
We hope you’re enjoying the blog tour for David Neilsen’s Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom! In case you missed yesterday’s post, head over to Cracking the Cover to check it out. The tour continues tomorrow on Margie’s Must Reads.