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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Interview: Dawn McMillan talks about Colour the Stars / Taea Nga Whetu


Dawn McMillan lives in a small coastal village on the western side of the Coromandel Peninsula. She is the author of over 20 picture books and has also written for over 200 school readers. Dawn talks to NZ Booklovers.


Tell us a little about Colour the Stars Taea Nga Whetu

I’d like to say I planned to write the story with disability awareness in mind but no – I just ‘met’ two boys sitting by the Waiomu Stream. They told me their story so they are the authors. I’m so glad to have been given the story. It really touched my heart at the time and it still does.


For me Colour the Stars is about all that we miss in our world, of how we are bombarded by visual things in our lives, and deafened by everyday sounds. The story is also about the power of friendship and love. Through friendship Isaac taught Luke to see.

What inspired you to write this book?

I have a special place up the Waiomu stream. It is a ford crossing with water travelling over as a waterfall and fern cover banks around a pool of water. The water tumbles over the stones as it heads downstream. The place is full of bush smells, chattering water, and silence. Just the place to hear the story of Luke and Isaac. The story unfolded as I walked home down the track and I couldn’t wait to get to the keyboard.


What research was involved?

The original publication supported the RNZFB Guide Dog Services so there was research re the role of Guide Dogs, and the training of the puppies. I worked with the foundation to write the information page at the back of the book.


How did you work with the illustrator?

Keinyo did a great job and it was a pleasure to approve his work.


If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.

John Legend’s Under the Stars.


What did you enjoy the most about writing this book?

It was so real. You can smell green! And I liked the boys.


How does it feel seeing the 10th Anniversary edition being published?

Fantastic! Thanks Scholastic. You’ve done a great job!

So honoured to have a bilingual edition. Nā Ngaere Roberts ngā kōrero whakamāori

What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin. Wonderful characters.


What’s next on the agenda for you?

More picture book stories. And maybe something a bit longer. An idea is brewing for that, but it’s likely to come together as a picture book. I have a habit of ‘chopping’ words. I can have thousands of words in process and end up with 400.


Scholastic New Zealand


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