Author Interview: Beth Ferry

STICK AND STONE BY BETH FERRY Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry

1) Please provide a short excerpt of what your children’s book is about.
Stick and Stone is a short, rhyming story about friendship.

2) What inspired you to write this book? Did it take you long to translate your idea into words and subsequently into a book?
A song by the band Train, called “Drops of Jupiter” was the inspiration behind Stick and Stone. There is a line in the song about friends sticking up for one another and that sparked the idea of a stick sticking up for a friend, namely, a stone. Friendship is a common theme in picture books, but an important one. I began writing the story in prose and wasn’t having much success. When I switched to rhyme, the story developed quickly.

3) Why did you pick this genre and how did you come to be a writer?
I chose to write picture books because of their beauty and importance to the youngest of readers. I also think picture books transcend age ranges and can speak to people of every age. I love the bond they offer parent and child. I’ve always loved to write, but I became a write in 2011 when I challenged myself to write a picture book that was under 200 words. That was the genesis for Stick and Stone.

4) How do the illustrations complement your book? What was important to you as an author?
Well, the illustrations of Stick and Stone are phenomenal!! Tom Lichtenheld created characters are that sweet and cuddly and utterly perfect – quite an achievement for a stick and a stone. His illustration process shows the extreme care and time he put into making the illustrations a perfect match for the text. I couldn’t be happier!

5) As a child, what books and/or authors influenced you the most and why?
The picture books I remember loving the most are Maurice Sendak’s Nutshell Library. As a child I adored miniatures and so this tiny set of books was right up my alley. I had every story memorized. I also loved Miriam Young’s Miss Suzy. I think the dollhouse aspect also appealed to my love of miniatures.  As I grew up, I read all the classics – Nancy Drew, Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables and A Wrinkle in Time.

6) What is the most fulfilling thing about being an author? Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring children’s authors?
Having a child tell me they love my book are some of the sweetest words I’ve heard. It floors me every time. Interacting with children at schools and bookstores is the most fulfilling aspect of being a children’s book author. The kids themselves are the best reward for being a picture book author. There are so many wonderful blogs that give advice to kidlit writers. My advice is to join SCBWI, and to check out taralazar.com, kathyteam.wordpress.com, and lauriewallmark.blogspot.com. Also, to write, write and then write some more. Don’t give up. This business requires a supreme amount of patience.

7) What do you hope children will take away with them after reading your book? What do your children think of it?
I hope they will see how good friendships require a bit of effort and that friends help each other – it’s not a one-way street. I hope they also see that we all might act like Pinecone now and again, but it’s important to forgive those prickly characters in our lives. My children are all teenagers, but happily, they love the book. There’s nothing better than overhearing them tell their friends that their mom wrote a book.

8) What are you working on now? We wait with great anticipation!
My next book, Land Shark, is being released on August 4, 2015. As I’m waiting for that, I’m working on a few stories involving a scarecrow and an alligator, but not in the same story. Although that might be interesting . . . Thanks for asking!

THBeth FerryANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Beth Ferry and would like to purchase her book, here are all her pertinent details.

Website: Beth Ferry
Where to purchase her book: Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Indie Bound
Beth’s social media connections:

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Author Interview: Meredith Costain

DOUBLE DARE YOU – THE ELLA DIARIES BY MEREDITH COSTAIN Doube Dare You - The Ella Diaries by Meredith Costain

1) Please provide a short excerpt of what your latest children’s book is about and what inspired you write it?
The Ella Diaries is a series of books that reflect the life, thoughts, fears and dreams of a 10-year-old girl. There are lots of musings from Ella on friendship, family, school bullies and ‘fitting in’. Besides her diary entries, Ella also expresses herself in times of angst or great joy by writing poems.

I was commissioned to write the series by the publisher. The brief was to make the writing ‘reflective and funny’. Hopefully I’ve achieved that! I wanted to make my character warm and funny and ‘imperfect’, but also resilient and strong. Someone who can stick up for herself and others.

2) How do the illustrations complement your picture books? What was important to you as an author when you collaborated with these artists?
The Ella Diaries are more like chapter books than picture books. But the illustrations – there are two-colour ‘doodles’ on every page – do play a very important part, in that they tell part of the story – and give a further insight into Ella’s thoughts. I was very lucky to have the brilliant designer and illustrator Danielle McDonald work on these. Sometimes I give her ideas for what a particular illustration could be, but most of the ideas are hers. They’re very funny and provide an extra level to the story – as is the case with the illustrations in my more ‘traditional’ picture books.

3) With over 200 books in your bibliography, do you have a favourite and also was there one particular book which you felt was the one that catapulted you to becoming the prolific author you are today?
I have several favourites! Musical Harriet was my first picture book, way back in 1995. It was illustrated by the fabulous Craig Smith (we’ve gone on to do several other books together since then.) Harriet was made into a TV show by the ABC, and was the inspiration for a piece of music by the Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin. Although I already had several books published by the time this one came out, this was the one that made me truly believe I might be able to make a living out of writing (if I worked really hard!)

One of my other favourites is Doodledum Dancing, which is a collection of poems for the very young, illustrated by Pamela Allen.

4) Which award / accolade are you most proud of winning and why?
Doodledum Dancing was an Honour Book in the Children’s Book Council of Australia awards. I’ve been writing poems since I was six (mainly doggerel and catterel!) so it was very special to think other people liked them enough to give them a gong. I’ve also had lots of teachers and parents tell me how much their students/children love the poems in the book, which is great!

5) What is the most fulfilling thing about being an author?
I’ve always loved reading and writing, so to be able to do these things as my ‘job’ is wonderful. It’s also lovely when I receive emails from young readers who’ve enjoyed my books – especially when they tell me the character in the book is ‘just like them’. Or emails from teachers who let me know about one of their students who had never finished reading a book until they found my book about cheetahs – and is now doing a project on them, without any prompting from them. These are the moments that make the endless hours of drafting and editing definitely seem worthwhile.

6) Do you enjoy the teaching part of your career?
I do quite a lot of writing workshops – working with both children and adults – and yes, I enjoy them very much! It’s always rewarding to see the wonderful ideas kids (and adults!) come up with and to help them shape these into polished pieces of writing. Writing workshops also give me a way to keep in touch with the audience I write for – to listen in to their speech patterns and find out their current interests and passions.

7) What do you hope children will take away with them after reading your books?
A shared appreciation of the joy of language, rhythm and rhyme! And the understanding that reading can be fun.

8) Who is/are your favourite author/s as an adult and why?
I read lots of books written for children and young adults as well as adults – possibly because in my head I am still 6, or 12, or 17 … Some favourites are Libby Gleeson, Sarah Dessen, Cathy Cassidy, Ruth Rendell, Maeve Binchy, Helen Garner – a very mixed bag as you can see!

9) What are you working on now?
I’ve just finished the edit on Book #5 in the Ella Diaries series and I’m about to start Book #6. I’ve also been invited to write a book of short stories for 6 and 7-year-olds, which is keeping me busy!

THMeredith CostainANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Meredith Costain and would like to purchase her book, here are all her pertinent details.

Website: Meredith Costain
Where to purchase her book: Scholastic, Dymocks and Readings
Meredith’s social media connections:

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