Stephanie Ward Joins CWLA

  1. Do any of the books you write come from your own childhood? 

Absolutely! My first picture book, Arabella and the Magic Pencil, is all about being an only child and learning how to be a sibling. I am the firstborn and had to learn how to share the spotlight with two lovely siblings. A current work-in-progress is about a Christmas gift I didn’t receive. I love finding inspiration from my own zany childhood. 

  1. What are your top tips for writing a children’s book? 

Rules are made to be broken. Push the boundaries of what picture books can be – break rules, try things you ‘can’t do’, write about non-traditional topics. Kids’ imaginations are boundless so why shouldn’t picture books be?

  1. Where do you draw your inspiration from? How do you reflect this in your writing? 

Inspiration sneaks up on me from a situation, character or quirky line that crosses my mind. If something makes me laugh or think or feel, I try to capture it and stay true to it in the story or poem I write.  

  1. Which people or books have had the greatest impact on your growth as an author? Why? 

Sharing my stories with other authors and aspiring writers has had the greatest impact on my writing above all else. The comments of fellow authors writing in the same genre are invaluable. It always makes me laugh to share a new story that is so obviously perfect as-is (ha!) and walk away with a huge list of edits that is only the beginning of the revision process. 

  1. What are 3 things which anyone starting in your industry should know? 
  1. Believe. If you can’t believe in yourself (because so many of us are plagued with self-doubt), then believe in your story. Or your character. They deserve to be heard.
  2. Choose your own adventure. Authors may be working toward the same goal, but there are many ways to get there. Forge your own path.  
  3. Enjoy the process. It’s almost magical to see an idea become a story that evolves into a book. Enjoy each step on the way. 
  1. What are some challenges you face in your field of work and how do you overcome them? 
  • The publishing industry may appear to move at a snail’s pace. There’s a lot going on in the background, but often, for authors, it is a waiting game. Patience is simply part of the job. I use the waiting time to write, review books, develop marketing plans and build my author platform. 
  • Publishing is a business and publishers can’t publish everything they read. So, I decided early on to reject rejection! I focus on finding publishing houses that are a good fit for my projects, but if they don’t agree, I move on. It’s not personal, it’s business.
  1. Do children around you strongly influence how you write your own stories? How do they influence or inspire you? 

Children influence and inspire me – the way they think, the things they say, how they see the world. It is a joy to witness life through untainted, unbiased eyes. I am constantly amazed by the simple truths they tell.

  1. How do you help children relate to your stories? 

Writing for children as an adult is tricky. Fortunately, I’m a kid at heart and have a young son to keep me up to date on what kids think. Empathizing with children and seeing things from their point of view will be reflected in writing and that is key to helping children relate to a story.

  1. How have your writing courses helped and contributed to your career as an author? 

Joining workshops and taking classes at the appropriate time, helped me learn the craft of writing for children at my own pace. I remember learning how to break up the revision process into three segments from a two-hour presentation just after I had finished a draft of my first chapter book. The tips I learned saved me countless hours of editing by looking first at the structure – where I made huge changes – before  proofreading for spelling and punctuation.

  1. Are there any exciting new projects you are working on at the moment? 

I’m thrilled to be working on a number of manuscripts – picture books and chapter books – with CWLA. My new picture book, Allen the Alien, is also due out this year by Australian publisher, Yellow Brick Books.