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

Last Updated on : 20th March 2017
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…
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.
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. 
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! 
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.
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!
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!
What did you find hardest?
I managed to write Tardy over one long night in Elephant & Castle with the help of a nice bottle of Pinot Noir. 
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. 
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. 
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!
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!
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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