The Road so Far… Why did I Star Writing Children’s Books
If you figure out where I got the title from, you get special kudos for geekiness, which is a good thing in the Age of the Geek. Also, you’re awesome!
I have now two children’s books under my belt and more to come. I have hundred of ideas for the upcoming volumes and can’t wait to get started. I have loads of ideas for blog posts too, but now that I have this website and I am taking my passion for writing as a career as opposed to a hobby, I think my readers might want to know a bit more about me and why I am doing this.
I’m not going to have a whole biography here, just a quick summary. Born in France, I lived in Spain most of my life, until I was 25, when I moved to Northern Ireland, at the end of my Biology degree. I was a volunteer for a year and then found a job in a Call Centre because I could speak French, and the rest is history.
What really matters is that I started writing when I was fifteen. It was bad, of course, and the stories were ridiculous. But my first clue that I could be any good at it was when I won second place at my High School’s writing competition, when I was eighteen. It was a story reminiscing of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, my then favourite book. A science teacher came to talk to me about it to see where I had gained inspiration from. I can still remember it. Lanky middle aged man, balding, with a white lab coat. I’m thinking, he might not have been a science teacher at all, now. I just realized other teachers wore lab coats to protect their clothes from chalk stains.
I have to give it to them for giving me second place, because in Spain, to call yourself a writer, you need to write Literary Fiction and spend six hours wondering about the colour of carnations*. So either I was goodish or there were very few people who participated in the competition. I’m going for option B because self-deprecation is a collateral symptom of writing.
Still, the stories were published in an anthology which is somewhere in my parents’ house and which I have no intention to ever open again.
When I started living in the UK, though, writing took a back seat. My English was not very good for a long time and it took considerable attempts to start reading books in English. I tried and I tried, without success. When I realized I would never read anything if I tried to understand every word is when everything changed. I took a well known book to me, Harry Potter, and read that, and didn’t stop except if a word was vital for the action. That was my starting point. Now I can read anything I want, no matter the genre. I even have a degree in English Literature to prove it
Getting back to writing was the next natural step.
But then again, it was still an interest, a hobby. I wrote things that one day I might self-publish (KDP had just been born) just for pleasure.
It took Brexit, really, to make me decide to do this seriously. I only decided to make this work professionally this year, even though I already had a book out.
The decision to write Children’s books was simpler. Once you have children, there is so much that happens, and so much you want to teach them, that ideas is not what you are missing. And you read so many books which stories are so empty and vague that, at least as a writer, you think you can do better. Celebrities seem to feel the same way, because everybody from Madonna to Barack Obama have tried their hand at it. Let’s not go around feeling special, or anything. Coming up with ideas for children’s stories is easy when you have the children, they do so many funny things and go through so many awful obstacles, that you just feel a children’s book is the thing to help them with their values and attitude. Or so you hope.
The other deciding factor was my mum. She has been painting for longer than I have been writing, but truly dedicated herself to watercolour in the last ten years or so. Her effort has definitely paid off and her paintings and drawings are absolutely fabulous. Having watercolour illustrations for my book was both easy, because my mum wasn’t going to ask for money, and a nice project to have together.
Armed thus, I began writing the story at the beginning of 2017.
The Blue Giant came out last year, in October, and I sold the whole first batch very quickly. I printed a second batch because I didn’t want people to ask me for a book and not have one available, hoping that, in the time I have left before I die (hopefully in a very long time), I’ll sell them all.
But I was happy with that. I had written the book for 3 to 8 years old and had done some readings at my local school. All the kids wave at me now, saying ‘Hello, Eden’s mum!’
With this immense success and surge in popularity, I started writing The Branch Witch early this year and it was published at the beginning of this month.
Now, I’m not going to lie, sales of the Maven’s and Perry’s second adventure is a much slower affair, though I am only a tiny bit disappointed.
Disappointed, but not deterred.
I have a family of five. We live well, but because I have three children and childcare is not all that accessible, both in availability and price, I am now a stay at home mum. If anybody asks, though, I work in child development!
Well, for a long time, I considered myself a stay at home mum. It’s difficult to think of yourself in any other manner when what you do brings little to no money.
But now, when people ask, I say I am a writer.
I am. I promise.
But I’ve come to a serious recent realization.
When you are a writer and you hear of self-publishing, you think that’s your ticket. I mean, who wants to be rejected all the time? Even if rejection is a writer’s rite of passage, nobody likes it, we just pretend to take it well, but every rejection is a tiny stab to the heart.
And being a mum and a writer is not easy. Writing takes a lot of time and editing takes even more. Especially if you’re doing it yourself, which I am, because who has the money for that? It takes a lot of determination and planning and organizing and writing at night, trying to keep your eyes open and typing the word ‘observed’ three times because the first two you typed ‘borvedse’.
But, as you soon realize, you can write the best thing since Jane Eyre and put it out there and it won’t matter if you don’t invest in it. And by invest, I mean time and, yes, sadly, money.
But you have to invest yourself in your own success. Marketing, as dull and uninteresting as it sounds, is key and you have to learn.
The thing is, I have written two books that are beautifully illustrated and coloured, that have moral messages to help children shape their approach to the world, that I want as many young children to enjoy. And I have plans for this collection too. Maven and Perry will grow up. After the next picture book, I will start working on the first chapter book about their adventures. All to culminate in Young Adult stories.
I am really excited about it all. We live in such a divided, angry world at the minute. And I am one of the angry ones. I am angry at what we do to the planet, I am angry at the politicians that dictate my life without me being able to do anything about it, at the bank, telling me I can’t live on more money than I live on now. Writing this stories and working towards making this a viable business so I can reach and try to help as many kids as I can grow up through children’s books and stories is what makes me have hope, and I’d like that hope to transmit to anybody reading my writing.