Where do you get
My ideas are like birds, sometimes. When I try to think of good works for poems and stories,
nothing seems to happen, but when I am busy or in a hurry to get to a concert or poetry
performance I get wonderul idea. I write them down in dust, snow, on scraps of paper, or
serviettes or anywhere handy. Sometimes ideas come when I work with children. Somebody
might say a word or two that triggers a good beginning sentence. So you might say my ideas
come from everywhere and anywhre at any time. People, places, things, and the world inpires
me. My "muse" grabs me by the hand and says "Now write that down". (You might look up muse
in the dictionary.)
How many books have you written?
I have written seven books for children of chants, raps, rhymes and songs. I have also published
many poems for grown-ups. I have two video and audio cassettes out. One is called "Sonja Dunn
on Tape". I made this with my son Paul who is also a writer and teacher. He and my younger son
Kevin, do concerts with me.
How long does it take you to write a book?
I can't draw worth beans, but when I start to write I go like a whirlwind. Each poem, rhyme, chant
or song takes a different amount of time. For instance "Rain goes, Rainbows" only twenty five
seconds. "Primary Rhymerry" took two months.
What advice do you have for the children?
Read, read, read, Write,write,write! Pick poems or stories that you enjoy and pattern, your work
after that, but be careful not to copy. That's called "plagiarism." Keep a folder and when you get an
idea write it down. You may end up with many sheets of paper, but then you can refer to your old
ideas and continue them later. Write about things that mean something special to you. Write
about things you care about and know about.. your friends, family, pets, feeling, things that
happen to you, things that you feel about.
What is your inspiration?
My first inspiration was my father. He was from the Ukraine. He was a musician, professor of Slavic
Languages, an actor, a choirmaster and orchestra leader. He loved his work, literature and
storytellings. Sometimes being sick wasn't so bad, because he would sit on my bed and tell me
stories about when he was a boy in Ukraine. My husband, sons and grandchildren inspire me.
Children and friends inspire me, especially my colleagues who are also writers and illustrators.
Return to the Island of Eyes
Created: 22/01/96 Updated: 1/21/98