Dani Vee hosts the popular Words and Nerds Podcast with 52,000 plays every month. Dani also works in publicity and acquisitions at Larrikin House, and is often a panel facilitator at literary festivals. She can now add picture book author to the list of her literary achievements. So, buckle up and get ready for a fun interview with Dani Vee.
Andrew: Hi Dani, thanks for coming for an interview! As Words and Nerds podcast host, you’re used to interviewing guests. I’m going to let you interview yourself for this question. What question would you ask yourself? And how would you answer it to reveal a fun and little-known fact about yourself?
Dani: This is the most fun and terrifying question I’ve ever had! A little-known fact is hard for an over-sharing extrovert, but when I was a kid I wanted to be a vet. I have no idea why, I’m bad at Math and not great at needles! I was also in a few bands in my early twenties as a VERY average singer and enthusiastic dancer (didn’t say good!)
My EXTRAordinary Mum
Andrew: Congrats on your new book My EXTRAordinary Mum! I saw a video on your socials of you unboxing your advance copies. What was that like?
Dani: The unboxing is every author’s dream! It was fun and I had my kids throw confetti at me and make a mess which they thought was the best thing ever! Having a book published is like running an endless hurdle race. You write it, you have to get it signed, you get it signed, you have to edit it, you edit it, you have to help market and sell it. I’m not complaining at all, but it’s a constant flow of excitement and trying to manage that next hurdle! It was very surreal though to think there are actual books I wrote in the world and hopefully in kid’s hands!
Adventure with a message
Andrew: One thing I love about My EXTRAordinary Mum is that by staying true to who she is, she is able to share wonderful experiences with her daughter. And you can see the positive messages that are being role-modeled to the daughter through these experiences. Which of these messages do you hope kids pick up on the most?
Dani: I think this is two-fold. I’d love kids to realise and understand that their mums are individuals who have desires and dreams of their own, which can get lost in the midst of motherhood. I would also like kids to see that they should be exactly who they are and not feel like they have to fit into societal expectations. Imagine if we could all be unapologetically ourselves!
Andrew: My EXTRAordinary Mum is going to show kids that their mum is more than what a common stereotype gives them credit for. Can you talk us through your thoughts on that?
Dani: It was interesting when I was having conversations with my own kids about my life before they came into the world and they couldn’t believe I went backpacking, or when traveling to Europe on my own or used to go into mosh pits (although I did have to explain a mosh pit haha!) I’ve always tried to create a value system in my household that values every member equally. As mothers we’ve been taught and expected to put ourselves last and this is having a very negative impact on our mental wellbeing.
I know so many women and mothers who have the most interesting lives, dreams, careers, histories and talents so I wanted to lean into this. The narrative about mothers and single mothers and what it means to be a ‘good mother’ needs a complete overhaul and we need to keep the conversation going to change the narrative and stereotype. The tired stereotype of mothers only capable of being the nurturer or the one reigning in the fun is tired. Don’t get me started on fairy tales where we are missing at sea, evil or dead. Women are so much more than that and I wanted to celebrate that by bringing the kids on the adventure!
Andrew: My EXTRAordinary Mum will speak to the grown-ups reading it too. What advice or encouragement would you give to all the mums out there that feel like they’ve lost themselves during the behemoth responsibility of parenthood?
Dani: I like the idea that motherhood dismantles everything we thought we were, because it’s such an incredibly life-changing and powerful experience to be responsible for this person’s life and to experience another level of love. However, after the dismantling, we get to reimagine who we are, because we can never be the same, but we can recreate who we are and who we want to be. I want to encourage our kids to accept and love themselves by modeling that for ourselves. There’s nothing worse than feeling as though you’re not good enough or that you have to change to fit an agenda. Be your extraordinary self and nothing less!
Andrew: You and illustrator Alexandra Colombo have included beautiful dedications to your own mothers. What was your mum’s reaction to the dedication and reading the physical copy for the first time?
Dani: It’s my first book so it’s very special for both of us. I’m an only child and have a close relationship with both my parents. My mum always said ‘if you want something, go out and get it,’ which is an attitude to live by! My mum has also been a huge supporter of every version of myself (not all good!) and so to have someone in your life who will always have your back is special. She was stoked and surprised. It was expected that I would dedicate my first book to my kids, but with the title My EXTRAordinary Mum there was no choice!
Get your copy for your next storytime
Andrew: Is there anything else you’d like to share about My EXTRAordinary Mum? How can people get their copy?
Dani: I hope readers find it fun and quirky too. Putting the message aside, it’s a book about creating adventures with your family. The illustrations are magnificent and more than I could ever have imagined! Alexandra really captured the character’s spirit. I can’t thank James and Larrikin House enough for believing in this book from the start.
You can get your copy from Larrikin House, Booktopia, Dymocks, Robinsons and all of your favourite bookshops! My Sydney launch is at Gleebooks Glebe on 30 July, and I’ll be in Brisbane next week and Melbourne in August promoting the book too!
Andrew: Thanks Dani for coming for a chat on the blog!
Dani: Thank YOU, Andrew! YOU ROCK!
I trust you enjoyed reading this interview with Dani Vee. Connect with Dani on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, her website and on the Words and Nerds podcast! And if you think her book is perfect for you, then buy My EXTRAordinary Mum for your next storytime.