The joy of #writing for children

Writing for children can be rewarding – especially when you see the joy on children’s faces when they listen to, or read, your story. One of my favourite parts of writing children’s books is interacting with them after the book is published. Money? Yes, that would be a bonus, but right now I’m measuring success by JOY.

Joy also comes from other parts of the ‘being an author’ process. Click To Tweet

But it’s more a self-deprecating ‘laughing at the circumstance’, or after the fact, kind of joy, if you know what I mean. Here are some examples.

Selling books

When My Silly Mum came out, the local bookstore invited me down for a book signing. It was at 10am on a Wednesday morning – in hindsight, not the best time. Along with books, I took a basket of fresh home-grown lemons, plus some stickers for the kids, and a friendly smile.

The lemons disappeared while I was setting up the stand – before the signing even started.

The books … well, not so fast. People … yes. Frazzled mothers would see the stand, catch my eye, then spirit their trolleys and offspring over to the other side of the mall, probably wishing I would disappear.  Those that didn’t go for the disappearing act simply dragged their children past, ignoring their children’s pleading eyes and grabbing hands. In the end, I sold a paltry four (!!) books that day.

And then there this week while at my day job in the midst of an 11-day dance festival: copies of Fergus the Farting Dragon were placed strategically at children’s eye level on the counter. To be fair, I didn’t expect sales (any would have been a bonus), but I had to laugh when a child clapped her hands and said, “Mum, can you buy that book?” and her mum snapped “NO!” without even looking. Right in front of me.

Children’s Book Week

I love Children’s Book Week and always have a great time hanging out at primary schools and libraries. So far, the kids have enjoyed My Silly Mum and Fergus the Farting Dragon, and they love my wacky drawings and games. They tell me about their farting mums and silly dads, and I tell them about my silly mum and farting da-dragon, and we laugh and laugh.

But then they ask me about my cat, prompted by the cat in My Silly Mum, and suddenly the books are forgotten. From “How many cats do you have?” and “What is your cat’s name?”, to “Why does your cat eat falafel?” and “If you had three cats, what would you call them?” – once we’re on the cat track, it’s all over. Suddenly the children want to ask if I’ve seen the cats and cucumbers video, or the ones where the cats fail at jumping.

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If I haven’t, they’ll tell me all about it, so I have to pretend I have and move things along.

If we manage to avoid the cat questions, someone invariably asks which famous authors I know. And somehow, Andy Griffiths always manages to sneak into my Book Week session and it’s all about him, whether he looks better in real life, and whether he always wears the same top! Every. Single. Time.

Thanks, Andy.

Question time

I’m also careful to point out the difference between questions and stories (‘My cat died when my dad went for a walk’), but no matter what, I always get some of the following:

  • ‘I just farted.’
  • ‘Why is Fergus green?’
  • ‘My dad/mum/other family member does big farts.’
  • ‘My brother/sister is mean to me.’
  • ‘My mum always forgets my name. It’s SO annoying.’
  • ‘My dad wears flowery dresses and his armpits stink.’ (That really happened.)
  • ‘Why are you wearing a hat?’

Typecasting

The unavoidable thing about writing books about silly mums and farting dragons is that people start to identify you with words you’d rather not be associated with. My clumsiness often doesn’t help when it comes to being known as a silly mum, but as for farting … as if.

Ilustration: Veronica Rooke

This is what people have said to me recently:

  • ‘Are you the farting dragon lady?’
  • ‘Oh, you’re the farting lady.’
  • ‘You’re the farting dragon, I remember you from the paper.’

All true. Except for the farting lady part. I don’t do that. Never.

My next book for children is about a burping bunyip. Why do I open myself up to these things? Click To Tweet

Seriously, I just want children to enjoy my books and I can deal with all of the above, for a big cheesy grin or five hundred.

PS. You can buy my books here. If you do, or you already have, please consider leaving a review on Goodreads and/or Amazon. Reviews help!

2 thoughts on “The joy of #writing for children

  1. “Oh, you’re the farting lady.” Children are so blithely direct! This was very entertaining to read.

    Burping bunyips sound fabulous, too …

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