Wendy Anne Darling kindly agreed to narrate four of my audio books, namely The Daughter-in-law Syndrome, A House Without Windows, The Pilates Class, and A Rather Unusual Romance. She is British but lives in the USA. I hope you enjoy her answers to my questions below.
My dad was in the British Navy for 15 years, and when he got out, he just couldn’t seem to settle to a normal job. He kept hankering to travel! My parents attempted to move to Canada and Persia before finding a job advertised with South African Airways – my dad was, and still is, an aviation technician – and, when he got that, we upped sticks and moved to Kempton Park; then in the Transvaal, now it’s called Gauteng. I was 12 at the time. I’m still in contact with my best friend from those days who lives in Johannesburg. We moved home to England and stayed with my grandmother in Neasden for a while when my grandfather fell ill and then I met Mike and got married and had my 2 daughters. Being a ‘world traveler’ already, when Mike was ‘headhunted’ by a company in Southern California I was all for it, and we moved to the US in 1988.
2. Which of those 3 countries do you feel most at home in?
I’m at home more in the US now than anywhere else, I suppose, but my parents definitely instilled the wanderlust bug in me! If I could, I’d probably move around for the rest of my days! I’d love to spend a couple of years in several different counties, but there’s just something about Colorado that I don’t think I could ever get out of my system. I think it’s those mountains!
3. Can you speak Afrikaans?
I was in high school most of the time that I was in South Africa, and being bilingual was part of the curriculum. I did become pretty good with Afrikaans, but it’s been so long since I used it that I’ve forgotten most of it. It’s very similar to Dutch. I’d probably pick it up again really quickly though, if I ever went back there.
4. Give us a little insight into your book ‘Silver Lightning’. Are you working on a new book now?
I dreamed virtually the whole of ‘Silver Lightning’ several years ago, so when I finally made the decision to concentrate my efforts on writing it seemed the natural thing to do to begin with that. It’s a book that appeals mainly to 12+ boys. A boy called Alex has a dream about a magic motorbike that seems so real that he believes it will come true. The spirit of the bike is an ancient wizard who originally changed his form to help people. The wizard has had several helpers over the years, but Alex is special. One of his ancestors was the wizard’s first, and most trusted, helper.
I am writing a sequel to ‘Silver Lightning’ but I have learned so much since I started writing that I’m considering rewriting the first one as well. Having grown up with Enid Blyton, I think the first book needs a style update to make it more interesting to kids now and I also want to write more about the girls in it as well, to make it more appealing for both sexes.
The other project I am working on is an adult fantasy with dragons. It is a book my mum was working on before her death. She left about 27,000 words already written and a very good synopsis and my sister and I plan to expand the story and publish it in memory of our mum.
5. Do you have a main day job?
Life has thrown me a few curveballs over the last 10 years and I ended up moving into my daughter and son-in-laws basement, suffering from PTSD and absolutely broke and broken. My wonderful son-in-law sat me down one day when I was panicking about getting a job and told me that I had a home as long as I needed one and maybe it was time that I concentrated on what I really wanted to do when I grew up! I knew immediately what that was… writing.
As I settled down to writing ‘Silver Lightning’ I knew that it could take some considerable time to make any money as an author so I started looking into other things. I have always loved to read aloud and have had many people tell me that I should use my voice to make money, so I researched and found Amazon’s ACX division for audio books. After only a few auditions I got my first offer to produce an audio book and, as I am getting better at the process and becoming known I am getting more offers than I can handle – a lovely challenge to have! As I don’t have a traditional 9-to-5 job I can concentrate on recording, editing, and my writing, and right now I’m working 10 to 12 hours a day, seven days a week doing that and loving it!
6. Which do you favour the most; writing, illustrating, or narrating?
As I get known and can pick and choose from the better projects I will be able to make more on the projects I choose to take on and cut down a little on the actual amount of narration I do. I was thrilled to receive offers from Stevie Turner and another couple of authors recently whose books and writing styles are marvellous.
My first love in life was illustration and I have a degree in Visual Communications – basically, computer graphics and have worked in the field for several years. I enjoyed doing that and will probably always do my own artwork but I have definitely grown to love writing the most so I’d say a mix of 50% writing and 25% each of narration and graphics would be my dream!
7. Have you ever acted in any TV programmes?
I’ve only made it to TV once on a local programme when I was Mistress Page in ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’ for a local Taste of Shakespeare production. I have been in several plays over my lifetime and am considering reader’s theatre right now as I must find a way to branch out of my reclusiveness and meet some people! My youngest daughter lives in Southern California and has been on many popular shows but has yet to get a speaking part and is now looking for work behind the camera.
8. How many audio books have you narrated?
I think there are 8 out on sale now, with a further 2 in the QC phase with ACX and another 5 waiting, so by Christmas I will probably have 14 or 15.
9. What is your favourite pastime?
10. What is the one possession of yours that you would hate to lose?
I lost my own home to foreclosure and bankruptcy 6 years ago, so I don’t have to imagine this one. I love being with my family but my goal is to have my own place again in the not-too-distant future! Of the possessions I have left, I’d find it very hard to live without my computer and decent internet.
11. You have a degree in visual communications. I would like to learn more. Is this an academic / I.T course, or is it a practical one (for example sign language for the deaf)?
As I mentioned above, Visual Communications is really another way of saying computer graphics except that the degree covers audio visual, 3D graphics, art history, marketing, and a plethora of other fun stuff as well. If you’ve seen ‘Silver Lightning’ you’ll probably realize that my focus is actually hand illustration but I grew to love Photoshop and Illustrator as well. Now though, I wish I’d taken more video and web design classes as well.
12. What’s number one on your bucket list?
Become totally independent by writing best sellers and narrating brilliant books, followed closely by travelling the world.
13. Where will you be spending your holidays this year?
There’s nowhere quite like Colorado at Christmas. Especially when we get a ton of snow, which happens quite often!
14. How would you advise a young person about life in two words?
15. Do you wish you could go back to your childhood and live your life all over again?
No. But I do wish I could go back in time and concentrate on writing a lot earlier. I was a housewife looking after kids for so long that, if I’d started then, I would be a lot further along now. Hence, the 2 words above!
16. Have you ever had a paranormal experience?
I do actually believe I saw a ghost once. I grew up in Fareham, Hampshire in a caravan site located right next to Cams Hall; a huge mansion that was falling apart at that time. One night I woke up and saw a lady dressed in grey carrying a candle walk through the end of my bed and through the wall. Apparently it wasn’t the first time she’d been seen!
17. Are you a perfectionist, or have you a more laissez-faire attitude?
I think I’m actually a perfectionist but I tend to mask it well with procrastination! I’m afraid to start something if I think I can’t do a good job. Being my own boss now is curing me of that though as I’m doing what I really want to do. My business is called ‘The Voices in Your Head’ and those voices now insist that I don’t second-guess myself and do the best that I can do with the time I have.
18. You have just narrated ‘The Daughter-in-law Syndrome’. Do you think that speaking generally, mature men go to great lengths not to argue with their mothers?
Ummm… ARE there really any mature men? I think, all joking aside, that guys tend to be their mother’s sons all their lives. In my own experience, I’ve never seen a guy argue with his mother, but I never had a brother and had 2 girls myself, so guys have always been a bit of a mystery to me.
19. Do you prefer to be inside writing, illustrating and narrating, or outside walking and looking at the view of the Rocky Mountains?
I’ve become a bit reclusive; my mum was agoraphobic and I’m afraid I’ve followed in her footsteps as far as that goes so I stay inside more than I should. When I DO go out, I love the scenery here and I must make a pledge to myself to walk more, but it’s tough going alone.
20. Which one thing would you take with you to a desert island?
I’m not going to any desert island unless they have wi-fi and I can take my laptop! If I can’t have that, there’d better be boxes of books washing up on the shore!