Allison's Book Bag

Interview with Dawn Baker

Posted on: July 13, 2013

DawnBakerIf you have been following my round-up of Newfoundland picture books, you’re in for a treat with today’s post. Dawn Baker graciously allowed me to interview her. She’s the author of A Newfoundland Alphabet, A Newfoundland Year, and A Newfoundland Christmas. Through talking with her, I learned plenty including the reason that she didn’t include a glossary with her first book. Next week, we also have plans to meet! I’ll keep you posted on updates. 🙂

ALLISON: What is your earliest memory of drawing and painting as a child?

DAWN: My first memory of painting is using a simple watercolour set with a colouring book. I was about 3 or 4.

ALLISON: Describe a typical moment as a teenager in Gander.

DAWN: A typical moment for me as a teenager in Gander was going to the new movie release every Friday night. There was never any choice so we watched whatever they had showing. I still love going to the movies.

ALLISON: Your certificate in library studies suggests you enjoy books. Who are your favorite Newfoundland authors? Why?

DAWN: My favourite Newfoundland authors are Bernice Morgan and Kevin Major. I feel that both capture the essence of the province in their work. My favourite author of all time is Agatha Christie. I believe that I have read nearly everything she wrote.

ALLISON: In 1992, you held your first one-woman exhibition. How did you prepare for it? What reaction did you receive?

DAWN: In preparing for my first major exhibit I gathered work that I had given to family and borrowed some pieces that I had sold locally. I seem to remember having about 20 pieces on display in the mezzanine of the Gander Public Library. The opening was very well attended and the event was very special to me.

ALLISON: You created your own Art Works Studio. What led to this decision? Did you receive any support for this? How did this change your career as an artist?

DAWN: I started my own business after my daughter, Samantha, was born. I wanted to stay home with her but still be productive. It has always been a home based business. I did receive some advice from the Gander Area Development Corporation when I first began. This business legitimized my work to some degree and I became more serious about my work, overall.

ALLISON: What were your favorite things to draw? Which medium do you most prefer? Why?

DAWN: I have always preferred drawing and painting living things. Especially people. I have never enjoyed having many inanimate subjects in my work.

I prefer oil or watercolour. I really do not like acrylics. I think this may be because I am a purist and a little old-fashioned.

ALLISON: In 1998, you self-published your first book. What inspired you to create an alphabet book?

DAWN: My daughter was at the alphabet book stage when I wrote A Newfoundland Alphabet. There were no Newfoundland-themed alphabet books in existence then. My own business published it and I had to be very careful about the cost. Since it was a saddle back book the total number of pages had to be a multiple of 4. Since there are 26 letters and all books legally must have a minimum two-sided cover page, I did not add a glossary. That little book is now in its fifth printing and still sells like crazy 15 years later.

ALLISON: I appreciated the note you included in it for kids, in which you encouraged them to draw of the things in their life. What advice would you offer to aspiring artists?

DAWN: I try not to give too much advice to aspiring artists, but one thing I will say is that you must have at least as much business sense as talent.

ALLISON: A Newfoundland Year is written in limerick form. What led to this choice?

DAWN: The choice to do A Newfoundland Year with limericks happened because I wanted the book to be lighthearted and fun. It was quite a challenge! I did stretch the format occasionally to allow for more Newfoundland content. I am very proud of the result. I was particularly pleased with the limerick I wrote for the back of the book.

ALLISON:  Do you prefer poems, essays, or stories? Why?

DAWN: My preference of writing style depends on what sort of mood I am in at the time. Most of the time my answer would be stories but, truthfully, I can and do read everything.

ALLISON: What other interests do you have?

DAWN: Some of my other interests are gardening and traveling. I am very fond of visiting Europe. Also, I try to walk at least 45 minutes a day. Or snowshoeing during the winter. I am technologically challenged. I don’t use any form of social media except email.

ALLISON: Describe a bad day.

DAWN: A bad day isn’t something that I have too often. I have been very fortunate in my life. I must say that cold, snowy days in June can get me down. I hate to see tulips that I have been waiting for all winter bent over with the weight of snow!

ALLISON: Your artwork and books all capture a Newfoundland way of life. What is your favorite Newfoundland tradition?

DAWN: My favourite Newfoundland tradition is mummering. We have had mummers come to our door a few times and it is a blast!

ALLISON: A Newfoundland Christmas is written as a story. What led to this choice? Do you expect to write more fiction?

DAWN: A Newfoundland Christmas was written as a story simply because that was the best way to express the idea. I had thought of the basic storyline and I knew it would work best as prose. I really worked hard to keep the story simple and short. A caregiver can read it to a child in less than 5 minutes. What could be better than that? The first printing of this special story sold out in less than 6 weeks. My publisher, Flanker Press, was thrilled.

I am working on a story for slightly older readers right now. Of course, it has a Newfoundland theme. With such rich history and culture right here at home, I feel no desire to look elsewhere for ideas.

2 Responses to "Interview with Dawn Baker"

Hello Allison,

What a surprise ! I didn’t knew you were also a journalist. Thank you for this discovery. How did you managed to do the interview, I’m curious because I want to do some and don’t really know how to prepare it.

Enjoy your day dear !

Grace

Thanks for the compliment, but I’m not a journalist. 😩 However, I do like to interview authors, write articles about local events, and remain versatile as an author.

How do I manage interviews? I email authors whose book(s) I have read and ask if I can send questions. Some authors will respond; others are too busy. For authors who are receptive to my request, I read as much as I can about them online and use that research to inspire new questions. Sometimes there is so much content I have to limit myself; other times there is barely anything and I have to resort to standard interview questions or questions based strictly on their books. Then I locate a photo and post the results.

Enjoy your Saturday too! I’ve just posted some photos but will probably skip my Six-Word-Saturday to spend time with family. 🙂

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