Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Writer's Block Interviews: Jan Latta

1) Tell us a bit about yourself and where you live and work.

I live in Sydney, Australia but I travel half the year to talk at schools and literary festivals and to countries where I follow animals in the wild for my next book. I've been to Africa eight times, China and Borneo twice, Sri Lanka and India.

2) You are an author, a wildlife photographer, and a book publisher. Which came first?

Wildlife photography came first.

3) Tell us about your True to Life Books series.What inspired you to write for children?

I was inspired to write children's books after coming face-to-face with a mountain gorilla in Rwanda, Africa. When my guide said there were only 600 mountain gorillas left in the world, I thought that was very sad and decided to create books for children so they could learn about endangered animals.

4) How do you promote your work? What methods have worked best for you?

School presentations and talking at literary festivals in Australia and Asia.

5) Who are your favorite authors? What is on your reading list right now?

David Attenborough and Cynthia Moss. I read all books on Africa – fiction and non-fiction to help me understand animals I will encounter in the wild.

6) What are your views on self-publishing vs.traditional publishing?

I have to self publish my True to Life books because each book costs an enormous amount of money. I follow wild animals in their natural habits so the cost of air fares, tented camp, guides, etc is very costly. Then the additional costs of creating a video on each animal. No publisher is going to give upfront costs for that. On the plus side, I receive all the revenue for my book sales. This usually pays for the printing costs within a year.

7) When you are not writing, how do you spend your time? Describe a typical day in your life.

I don't have a typical day. I have to spend a lot of time marketing my books. I'm also the designer, photo editor, and print production. For my videos I write the script, do the voice, edit the images, choose the music and work with a production house on the final video.

8) What projects do you have in the works?

Promoting my new DVD with 12 True to Life books and 10 videos I've created so children can see animals in action in the wild.

9) What advice would you offer to aspiring authors?

If you have a passion for writing, just do it. It's a tough business with digital publishing now. Try to get a mentor, join writer's groups and discussions on Facebook.

Author Bio

Jan Latta was born in Sydney and worked in advertising as a creative director in Sydney, London, and Hong Kong.

In 1994 she came face-to-face with a mountain gorilla in Rwanda, Africa. The experience changed her life. When her guide said there were only 600 gorillas left in the wild she was determined to do something to help.

She decided to publish books for children on endangered animals. But first she became a wildlife photographer so she could tell the animal's stories in pictures as well as words.

Grandy the Gorilla, was the first book and twelve True to Life books followed.
Lennie the Leopard, Mia the Meerkat, Gerry the Giraffe, Chimaka the Chimpanzee,
Chipper the Cheetah, Elle the Elephant, Lena the Lion, Timba the Tiger, Ping-Ping the Panda, Rufus the Rhinoceros, Kolah the Koala, Ollie the Orangutan

Each book is a true-to-life adventure with stunning photos of animals in their natural habitat. The books are also full of facts, maps, links to interesting websites and suggested readings. All twelve of Jan's titles are on the NSW Premier's Reading Challenge list.

The ABC commissioned Jan to write the Diary of a Wildlife Photographer. This is a journal of 14 years in the wild creating the True to Life Books – and a lot of adventures along the way.

Jan is a popular speaker at schools and festivals in Australia and New Zealand. She has been selected to speak at the Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Ubud Literary festivals.


Lennie the Leopard http://youtu.be/pKXBZfZ9E
Chipper the Cheetah  http://youtu.be/HU5PlStFifw
Ollie the Orangutan  http://youtu.be/TjZa77RavkY
Gerry the Giraffe  http://youtu.be/hV2bx3ZTJK4
Elle the Elephant  http://youtu.be/o5zmbahlO6U
Diary of a Wildlife Photographer  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVeqhOCNy20
African Safari with Jan Latta  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=if9Sd-MWOGQ

Contact Jan
Email: janlatta@truetolifebooks.com.au
Twitter: http://twitter.com/truetolifebooks

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