Finding Meeka

As a child, people often told me I was ‘away with the fairies’. Come to think of it, they also called me ‘Snoozie Suzie’. So I guess - awake or asleep - I was dreaming up stories from the start.

Inspiration was ample on my family’s Christmas holidays in the Irish countryside. We tramped up ‘the hill’ in wellies, conversed with cats and donkeys, made up plays, devoured books and tried out my grandmother’s potter’s wheel. Surrounded by a family of authors, illustrators, English teachers and Scrabble enthusiasts, there was no hope for me – I was a writer.

Years later - as a ‘grown up’ - I was writing, but mostly in the corporate sphere. On the side, I beavered away at my passions to keep that creative spark alive: writing for children, creating cabaret inspired by 1940s radio drama, swing dancing, screenwriting, painting, travelling... I was a first rate ‘dabbler’. And loving it.

I really wanted to see one of my children’s stories published, but I’d never managed to land that elusive contract with a traditional publishing house. I’d always shied away from self-publishing. I think I thought self-publishing would mean I had failed at being a ‘real author’ – that my book wouldn’t be a ‘real book’. Thank goodness I took the plunge anyway, as the experience has been amazing.

The idea for Meeka was sparked over a Moroccan meal, my mother and I giggling as we dreamed up a story about a cheeky bird who got stuck in a tagine. From there, the words flowed quite easily and I sent the story off to the CYA Conference Competition. To my surprise, the story won its category. I went on to submit Meeka to bunch of publishers, but never got a bite and I put the story aside for five years.

When I finally made the decision to self-publish, I searched and searched for the right people to work with to bring Meeka to life. By this point I was an editor by day and had a swag of skills from my creative and corporate lives to bring to the table, but I was still in need of lots of help. A fairy godmother, perhaps. Or maybe two creative wizards. Enter Anil and Ozan from Tadaa.

It didn’t take me long to realise that the folks at Tadaa would be able to conjure up not only glorious illustrations, but the know-how I needed to finally make an idea become reality. Anil and Ozan are a dream to work with and I can’t thank them enough.

Stay tuned for an interview with Anil and Ozan in my next blog.

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