Q&A with Children's Book Author Deborah Paine

Amanda K. (BookBuzz)

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In Dust and Sandals: The Country Life By Deborah PainePhoto byBookBuzz

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Deborah Paine was born in 1987 and has been a passionate blogger and ethnographic researcher for nearly a decade. She has dedicated herself to exploring rural communities in Romania and finding authentic craft practitioners, becoming an active member of these communities and participating in historic crafts. In 2014, she wrote and illustrated her first children's book, "In Dust and Sandals", with the aim of promoting a natural awareness in today's society that has become disconnected from its roots. Presently, she resides in Romania and continues to share her love and appreciation for rural life with the world.

Author Q&A

What genre do you consider your book?

In Dust and Sandals is a non-fiction poetry picture book dedicated to children aged 3 to 7 years old. It has 45 pages with realistic paintings, that reproduce country life in detail for children to form an accurate impression of it.

What inspired you to write your first book?

Over the years I have had the opportunity to explore rural communities and observe and write about rural lifestyle and heritage crafts on my blog. It is a world I fell in love with, a charming world of skilled artisans that is, unfortunately, threatened by globalization. I saw the necessity of passing this knowledge down to younger generations, who seem to be increasingly estranged from their natural origins. Then I had my twins. They accompanied me and my husband on our research journeys ever since they were in the cradle, and they grew interested in all these skills. Every time we met with an artisan they just sat and observed, and then played what they had seen. It all came together in one moment of inspiration! I wanted to share the knowledge with children everywhere. This is how my first children’s book, “In Dust and Sandals”, came to be, not only teaching kids about country life and farm animals but also about the natural order of things. Children discover how crops turn into food, how people work to get their daily food for themselves and their animals, how milk turns into cheese, how wool is collected from the sheep and turned into their sweaters and carpets, something that many of us grew up knowing. Maybe we did it, or we remember our parents and grandparents doing it, or maybe our parents told us about it, but something that our children don’t know.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Humans and nature are intimately linked with each other. Nature has provided us with all we need to survive and thrive and our identity is rooted in nature. With urbanization, the growth of technologies, and the children’s alienation from nature, we are on the verge of losing this ancient connection, which explains the growing number of mental health issues. Our ties to nature are one important contributor to happiness and kids need it the most. They need to be in dust and sandals.

Are experiences based on someone you know or events in your life?

The book is based both on my village life experience and that of others, such as our great-grandmother, Magdalena, who lived to be 90 years old and was an inspiration to me. I learned a lot from her. She was a genuine peasant, she would do all the work by hand, from sowing to weeding and harvesting. She was a living human treasure.

Do you prefer reading ebooks or traditional paperback books with your children?

My kids have tons of books, piles of books. There are books scattered all over the house. We enjoy reading together and we prefer reading paperbacks. They like to read the same book over and over until they know all the words by heart.

Who is your favorite children’s books author and what strikes you about their work?

There are so many authors we enjoy reading, that it’s really hard to decide, yet Julia Donaldson was the author that got me to enjoy reading to my kids. Her rhymes are brilliantly crafted and enjoyable to read aloud and her books are grounded upon big ideas simply explained to the understanding of children. Take “The Singing Mermaid” for example, where she turned real events from the life of Elvis Presley into a work of fiction in a way small children can understand, appreciate and draw a conclusion from it.

Do you see writing as a career?

Yes, definitely. I will stick to writing and illustrating children’s books. However, I will most likely venture into a different genre.

How can readers discover more about you and your work?

If my book has sparked your interest in exploring the countryside, then all the scenes and places depicted in my work come alive on my blog, at www.peasantartcraft.com, where you will find a collection of photographs and videos that gives you a glimpse into a world we only read about in literary works.

Do you have anything special that you want to say to your readers?

Just read to your children as much as you can. If you think a book is equal to a treasure, how great will their wealth be?

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Amanda is a PR manager and book lover from Georgia. When she's not working, she enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband and two doggies.

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