Name: Joanne Lécuyer
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
My youth was spent in the small town of North Bay, Ontario, Canada where there are a lot a magical forests and lakes. For the last 30 years, I’ve moved between Ontario and Québec – I love both provinces with all its greenery and water! I’ve recently settled in Gatineau, across the river from our nation’s capital, with my cat Black Magic.
I have a BA in Communications and Visual Arts, and a Diploma in Public Administration. I’ve been working for the Canadian federal government for over 30 years, with a good portion in corporate communications and more recently in change management – I do like change! I’m also a professional and personal coach and a Reiki Master.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I’ve just finished my first picture book A Pocketful of Rainbows. I worked with an illustrator from France, Ana Santos – got to love the Internet and email!
I also have a few other chapter book projects on the go and hope to publish two this fall.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I would have to say that 2009 was a turning point for me when I discovered my passion is writing children’s fantasy books. I’ve always had an active imagination, but even more so since then.
I think it started even earlier, in 2004, after spending a weekend with my younger brother Seth. He’s a graphic artist and has always been extremely creative – I love his work. On my way back home on the train, I jotted a story down on some scraps of paper that I called Topsyturvia. When I got home I just put the pages away.
Sometime in 2009, I remembered the story and transcribed into my computer and just kept adding to it. I got to about 6,000 words and asked a few people to read it – friends and colleagues with children. The feedback was very positive and they all encouraged me to finish the story. I asked my brother to do the illustrations for Topsyturvia and we plan to complete the book this year. In the meantime, more stories started coming out. I published my first book The Witch, the Cat and the Egg in 2010, and four other books since then.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always been writing something or other. Thinking that I had the potential to be a real writer likely started after I published my first book. It is not something that I planned to do or had really ever thought about. It is helping me get into touch with my inner child!
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
The need to be creative has always been inside me. The greater need was to get the story down on paper so that I could share it with others.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Generally, I write when the inspiration comes which is can be once a day, a week or a month. In one sitting, I may write as little as a brief outline or a whole chapter. When I’m getting close to finishing a story, I’ll stay up until the wee hours of the morning to get it done. As for research, I do check things like the book title I want to use, sometimes names of characters, things or places.
Fiona: How did you come up with the titles for your new books?
Usually the title comes out first. Once I’m into the story I may get an idea for a sub-title. So far my titles have been simple since they relate specifically to the main characters, The Witch, the Cat and the Egg, Kaptain Vamp, My Friend Merlin, etc.
Fiona: Is there a message in your books that you want readers to grasp?
Anything is possible if you dare to image and believe.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I love writing fantasy books because you can explore so many possibilities. I draw on my own personal experiences, thoughts and emotions, as well as people and things I’ve observed. When I’m out walking, I often stop and take pictures of trees, flowers, etc. so I have examples to send to my illustrators as ideas for the book images.
Fiona: What books have influenced your life most? a mentor?
There have been a few books over the years that were an eye opener for me – Illusions by Richard Bach, The Way of the Wizard by Deepak Chopra, Out on a Limb by Shirley MacLaine, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. The common thread in them is a different way of seeing things – one that can open you up to new possibilities.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I read all the Disney books when I was a kid. Later, I really enjoyed The Chrysalids by John Wyndham and the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. I have read many other books by various authors and to be honest I have a short memory when it comes to author names. For me it’s about the story – does it draw me in, keep me interested to the end, and possibly make me want to read a sequel. My favorite genres are fantasy, sci-fi and new age.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Actually, in addition to some close friends – Rick, Roxanne and Ray, I was extremely touched by all the support and encouragement I received from three work colleagues – Laurie, Bob & Art (you know who you are!).
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I see writing as more of a passion than a career. This allows me to write what, and when, I want, and not have to worry about paying the rent!
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest books?
I’m learning with each new book. I’ve started working with writing coach on two of my latest books. It’s great to get a fresh perspective on your story. I’m definitely open to suggestions that will make the writing better and the story more fun to read.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’m not entirely sure. But, once the first story came to me, I needed to share it with others.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
A Pocketful of Rainbows is the story is of a little girl named Mattie who loves rainbows and is sad that she can only see them after it rains. She decides to draw a bunch rainbows and stuff’s them in her pockets. She goes around handing out her paper rainbows, at home and at school, so everyone can enjoy them without having to wait till it rains.
In Kaptain Vamp and the Medallion Mystery (book2), Allistaire has all he needs to become the superhero he’s dreamt about—vampire abilities, human compassion, and a mysterious medallion. But will they be enough to get him through school, and the day-to-day challenges to come? With a wish and the help of his best human friend Rich, it seems that anything is possible!
In Shanlia and the Magic Pixie Dust, an inch berry fairy named Shanlia finds a pouch of magic pixie dust. Her best friend urges her not to open it, but Shanlia’s curiosity gets the better of her. Once the dust is freed, it releases a powerful magic spell that has an unexpected effect on Shanlia. She seeks out the Lord and Lady of the pixies to help break the spell. Will they agree to help her? Only if she agrees to help them in return. But at what cost?
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I sometimes get the point of view mixed up, and occasionally struggle with showing vs telling. Thank goodness for editors, writing coaches and test readers.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not very far. I do give writing workshops in local schools to kids in grades 4 to 6, and in libraries. It would be wonderful to have the opportunity to give workshops in Greece, Ireland, or France!
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I work up the concept with the illustrator that I select for each book. I get design input on the book title, font and placement from my brother Seth.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Writing is the easy part. I find marketing and social media are the hardest parts of the process.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your books and what was it?
When I started writing stories for children, I decided that I would books that leave my readers feeling good and wanting more; that also leave them with a smile on their faces. The type of book that you can read to kids before they go to bed that will help them have good dreams! It’s a little more challenging to always keep things positive, but I feel it’s well worth it.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
Having one or more of my books made into film is really my biggest dream/wish. I love animated kids’ movies. I also really enjoyed the TV series My Friend Merlin so having Colin Morgan or Bradley James do some of the voices would be great, as would Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Dwayne Johnson. If at all possible, I’d also like to be the voice of one of my book characters in a film or tv series.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Just do it! Always carry a notepad or your cell phone to capture your ideas when you get them. Write the best story you can. Ask friends, colleagues, parents and teachers to be your test readers. A good editor is your friend. Enjoy yourself!
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope that they will enjoy reading the stories as much as I enjoy writing and publishing them. I encourage readers to please take a moment to give me their feedback.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I can’t seem to read just one book at a time. I’m a Gemini – so there are two of me to keep busy! I’ve just finished the Dancing in the Light by Shirley MacLaine. I’m also reading Divine Magic by Doreen Virtue and a French series called Les chevaliers d’Émeraude (The Knights of Emerald) by Anne Robillard – there are 12 books and I’m only on book 3.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Two Disney classics – it’s a tossup between Cinderella and Snow White. I love how they could talk to the animals.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Jimmy Fallon lip sync videos on YouTube, and silly comedies make me laugh. / Anytime anyone cries in a movie – I need a tissue.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
Gene Roddenberry and J. R. R. Tolkien – they both created these amazing characters and stories. I’d love to chat with them about how they got started and how they feel about the shows/movies that were made.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
Dare to imagine and believe in the magic of possibilities! It’s my motto since becoming an author.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Writing is one of my favorite hobbies. Others include reading and watching sci-fi, fantasy and kids’ movies-especially the animated ones like Finding Nemo and Rango. I also want to learn to play piano and possibly sing in a musical (bucket list). Oh and travel! There just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day!
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love fantasy and sci-fi: My Friend Merlin, Once Upon a Time, Sense 8 and Gotham / Maleficent, Star Trek, The Guardians of the Galaxies, Paul (the alien), The Hobbit, and Harry Potter.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Food: Thai and bacon. Colors: all the rainbow colors. Music: 70s rock and disco.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I have a fantasy about being a dancer and singer, but I likely have more luck being a writer.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Readers can find out more about me and my books on my website: www.topsybooks.com, or write to me on Facebook: Topsy Books (http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Topsy-Books/179610058715988), or
Twitter: @JoTopsyBooks (http://twitter.com/#!/JoTopsyBooks).
My books are available for sale on my website and on Amazon.com.
Thanks for the interview. I hope that readers will make Topsy Books part of their book collection. J:O)anne