This is a series of blog posts featuring interviews with women who are entrepreneurs. While I will be interviewing a lot of artists, art is not limited to artists. The art of running a business is challenging and rewarding, no matter the discipline. Told in their own words (as much as possible), I'm looking forward to sharing fascinating stories from inspiring women!
Inspiring Women - Abbie Young, author of children's book "Grown-Up Stuff"
Abbie Young is an up and coming children's author from England.
Briefly describe what you do.
The creation of my first book came from a spontaneous idea to help my children. Anybody who has been through a divorce or separation knows how stressful it is and I just couldn't think of a way to explain it to my two young children. Laying on the bottom of their bunk beds one night reading them their usual bedtime story in our little terraced house in Bath, United Kingdom, I realised that would be the perfect way to explain and help them to understand what they were about to go through. The next day I looked in several bookshops and online to try and find what I needed but at that time it didn't exist so I decided to do it myself and 'Grown Up Stuff' was born.
How do you think being an author and writing this book makes a difference to people, if at all?
Writing this book made a huge difference to my children's lives because it enabled them to understand a very emotional time for them and allowed them to discuss how they felt with me and also enabled them to sit quietly by themselves and look at the pictures. The book is designed to take a child through the rollercoaster of emotions. In the book, for example, at the beginning it is stressful and sad because the boy is alone on the stairs listening to his parents argue, then Daddy is leaving so the boy is upset and anxious but when Daddy picks him up he is excited and happy and finally although they are not altogether he knows everybody will be ok. The child reading the book can then discuss their fears and how they feel.
I love the illustrations in the book. They have a beautiful, simple quality to them. Did you and the illustrator (Matt Prescott) talk about the look and emotional feel of the illustrations? What if any guidance did you give him?
Matt Prescott was introduced to me through a friend. It is amazing how the right people can come into your life at the right time when you most need it. I gave Matt the words to the story and asked him to come up with characters and designs that he felt complimented the words. I immediatly loved his sketches of the characters ( I think they were loosly based on us as a family!) and he gave me several options on how we could present the pictures, after a long conversation we decided that soft hand drawn illustrations worked best rather than computer animated pictures and best complimented the story.
Share a great moment you've experienced relating to your book.
It is difficult for me to share a moment I've experienced relating to my book because the book was our actual real life, ok it didn't match exactly what was happening but it was pretty close to it. The best moment I have had with the book is the first time I read it to my boys on that same bottom bunk bed that we had ready so many others. I watched my three year old boy go through the rollercoaster of emotions , his face sad at the beginning, almost in tears when Daddy was leaving home and then joy when Daddy took the boy in the story to the park and finally a huge smile at the end when everything was ok. Their favourite picture was Daddy making 'Bangers and Mash', they love the sausages sticking out of the top of the mashed potato. When I realised what I had written had worked, I was elated, and believe me no one was more surprised than me that it had actually worked!
Are there any future projects you're excited about? Will there be more books in your future?
I have already written a modern day fairytale for girls which I am excited about. That publishing announcement will be sometime in the future. [Note from Barb - I'll keep you posted when her next book is released.]
What does being an entrepreneur mean to you?
Being an entrepreneur to me means taking a risk, not being afraid to fail and putting your heart and soul into a project you truly believe in.
Has writing always been a part of your life (beyond the usual writing for school or things like that)?
Writing in rhyme comes easily to me when I am in a deeply emotional situation similar I guess to how a singer will write lyrics to a song when they are going through a hard time. I remember when my son was very little he accidentally fell down the stairs when I turned my back for a second and I was so upset about it I immediately sat down and wrote a long poem about how I felt. Writing is a release for me.
What would you like to say to others aspiring to pursue their dreams?
To anyone aspiring to pursue their dreams I would say never be afraid to fail and never give up, be your own best friend and advocate.
I don't know many artists who like self promotion, but here's your chance!
-- Can we buy your book, or support you in other ways?
You can find my book on Amazon, Waterstones & WH Smiths in the UK. And it is available in USA currently on Amazon. March 2016 it will be available from Barnes & Noble, Books a Million and most of the other chains across the US and Canada.
Describe your perfect day. Art-related or personal. (Or both)
My perfect day would begin with eggs benedict and ham on a toasted wholemeal bagel drowning in Hollaindaise sauce while sitting on a balcony overlooking the ocean with the morning sun beating down on me. The rest of the day would involve taking my puppy for a walk along the beach (I don't have a puppy yet but here's hoping!!), riding a huge rollercoaster, writing an incredible best selling childrens book, eating chunks of gooey chocolate cake and a champagne dinner surrounded by all my close friends and family, in no particular order of course.
What has been your biggest surprise about the whole process of writing the book and getting it published?
The biggest surprise about writing the book was that it actually worked! No one was more surprised than me and having it published is the icing on the cake.
Create your own interview question. Is there something I should have asked but didn’t? Write the question and your answer here.
One question you should have asked me and didn't is how old I was when I wrote my first winning poem and started my first job. The answer was I was 10 years old for both. My poem was a rhyme about teachers being bossy I wrote at school and I started delivering newspapers when I was just 10 years old. I guess I was born with ambition in my genes I have my parents to thank for that.
What is the least important thing we should know about you?
The least important thing you should know about me is I made my first ever batch of pickled eggs, onions and cabbage pickling away in the cupboards waiting for Christmas this year.
I'm so happy for Abbie's success, and can't wait for her next book! Abbie and I "met" through her partner Dylan who is a photographer. I put "met" in quotes because none of us have actually ever met in person. But I've known Dylan through his photography for several years now. So when he started sharing online about Abbie's book, I knew I wanted to help get the word out about it.
~Barb Kellogg, photographer, tea drinker, and dark chocolate lover
P.S. Do you know a woman entrepreneur that you'd like me to interview? She can be in any kind of business—art, banking, landscaping, you name it—part time or full time, living anywhere in the world. You can share this blog post with her as a bit of an introduction. There's no catch. No fee. This is my way of sharing great stories to inspire others.