Tardy goes to Animal School. An interview with the author Dan Keegan.

coverDan Keegan was born in 1973 in Millbank and now lives a mile away in sunny Elephant & Castle, but swears he’s more adventurous than that…
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Why did you write the book?
I was working in marketing for a famous paint company (not Farrow and Ball – another one! )  when I started to write Tardy goes to Animal School if I’m honest I was feeling a bit wounded from a start-up that hadn’t worked.
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One summer’s day, as I was on my regular walk of shame through a Slough trading estate to the office, I stopped in my tracks as I realised this really wasn’t what I wanted out of life.  I realise my next statement should probably be about some sudden road to Damascus type moment but this sense of emptiness actually lasted for quite a few weeks and I then out of nowhere that I decided that I was going to do something, anything, and that the next idea I had I was going to try and make work. 
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I’d call this the 70% principle and I wish I found it earlier in my life. And out of this mentality writing and Tardy  came along with quite a few other ideas that have either been culled or are ongoing! 
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What inspired you?
Incredibly, it was a news article on a tech website. It was discussing failed start-ups (told you I was a bit wounded!) and they described how some startups that had experienced extreme economic conditions and fundamentally “fail” and go into a life support style hibernation for years before coming back to life in a new form. The article called these start-ups “Water Bears” and having put my start-up on life support more or less earlier in the year it resonated with me and I remember thinking how great a Water Bear would be as a children’s book or games character.
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I had never planned nor envisioned myself ever publishing a Children’s Book but, due to my new 70% rule, I had to do it!
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now compelled to do it so I started researching a good illustrator to work with. During this process I created Tardy the character and story in my head and ran it past a few friends who still worked in the games industry in the pub (The Britannia in Old St, to be exact…). So to be a cliche here. Anyway, they were both super impressed with Tardy as a character and the story outline and rallied me on to do it. In fact, one said he loved it and thought it was the best idea I ever had – which is a back handed compliment if ever I’ve heard of one!
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What did you find hardest?
Nothing!
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I managed to write Tardy over one long night in Elephant & Castle with the help of a nice bottle of Pinot Noir. 
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I then found the process of illustrating Tardy goes to Animal School extremely enjoyable partly because, through some quick trial and error, I found and started working with the excellent illustrator Caroline Artayudianto. 
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Caroline was and is a joy to work with and just shows the old adage of what you can achieve when you work with passionate, talented and motivated people is so true. 
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After the illustrations were completed the self publishing process with Amazon’s Create Space is a little bit fiddly but, once you understand it, it’s super easy. If you want to self publish a book there’s nothing to stop you and it’s a hugely enjoyable experience which has created some absolutely brilliant moments like when I drunkenly gave my first copy away on the tube which prompted an impromptu first reading of Tardy on the Northern Line by this great bunch of folks!
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Basically, there’s never been a better time to self publish. Amazon’s CreateSpace self publishing platform is just dreamy for the first time author!
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Whats your favourite children’s book (apart from your own!)
Hahaha! Apparently a friend’s niece called Tianna from Ipswich says I’m her favourite author in all the world, and that’s good enough for me.
It’s Roald Dahl, obviously. No contest.
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