Please tell me a bit about yourself.
I am a children’s author, educator and illustrator living in Ontario, Canada. I loves to find inspiration in the world for stories, for drawings, for paintings and just to enjoy! I often work with groups of kids to create books as I find their ideas truly inspiring.
I have been writing for most of my life, got a university degree in English but devoted time to raising my kids before I decided on making writing a career.
I self-published my first book, a chapter book called Ghosts on the Soccer Field, in 2013 and have been enjoying creating and printing books since then!
Tell me about your most recent work......what inspired the premise? What about your story is topical right now?
My most recent book is Let Your Imagination Soar which is a book to build storytelling skills in kids. Inspiration can be found in so many places.
It was inspired by a painting tutorial I was following by Michelle the Painter. She posted Flight of the Imagination and while I was painting it I got an idea for a book. (and that painting is on the cover!). As I continued to paint I continued to be inspired and created a book of creative writing lessons along with paintings and prompts to inspire stories.
I think inspiring creativity is very important. Working with kids to help create books was one way I could do that, this book has the potential to reach more kids than just those in the workshop. It can inspire them, encourage them and allow them to get lost in their imaginations.
What do you hope young readers, and perhaps even parents take away from your story?
Many of the books I create are meant to get the conversation started with kids about topics that might otherwise be difficult to talk about. I have a series on emotions, bullies, eco-footprints, and grief and loss, all of which have inspired conversation, compassion and understanding from the readers.
With the new creative writing book I hope kids will be inspired to tell stories that help them understand themselves better, help them cope better, or help them dream and plan for their future.
What are your fav scenes (and why)?
I really enjoyed doing the paintings for the book. And, I have really enjoyed hearing some of the story ideas that have come out of my testers. I love the creativity that kids have, and I hope they send me stories so I can enjoy more!
Where do your ideas for stories generally come from?
I get inspiration for stories in many places but most of them come from kids. Through the Kindness Kangaroo Project I work with kids in classrooms to write books. We have a brainstorming session to gather ideas, then I use those ideas to create a story and the kids finish the book with their illustrations.
The Feeling Empty series, books on grief and loss, was inspired by a young friend who experienced the death of his guinea pig and asked me if I had a book that could help him deal with his emotions. And the Dinosaur Twins books are inspired by my twin grandchildren.
For the other children's writers out there in my audience, could you share a little advice on writing children's picture books?
When you have a passion behind the story, the story is worth writing. It doesn’t have to be a top seller in order for it to be important, for it to make a difference to a child.
How has the current pandemic changed or shaped how you write your books? What about how you market them?
I struggled during the pandemic because I could not work with kids in schools anymore and that had been a large part of what I was doing to create books. But, I found a new groove and was able to focus on a few new book projects. I also offered storytimes on my Youtube Channel and developed a Creative Writing class on video. So, I learned a lot about what I want to put out as an author since I was given some time to think it all through.
Tell me about some of your other projects!
Through the Kindness Kangaroo Project there is one complete series The Emotional Animal Alphabet. Super Kids Save the World (eco-footprints) is just a few books away from having all 10 books complete (workshops were cancelled when the pandemic hit). There are 2 out of 10 books complete in the Unpleasant Pirate series (bullying) and one out of 10 books in the newest Robot Rules series (problem-solving). There are plans for Woods of Wonder series (values) to keep the project moving.
What's next for you?
I am planning Adventures with my White Cane which has a mouse character who is visually impaired. The stories are inspired by the childhood stories from my friend who is blind and are meant to encourage people to understand that people with differences can still do things, they just have to do them differently.
And tell us something people might not know about you.
My business is called Quite a Character because I do love my costumes. I will often dress as a book character (especially Kindness Kangaroo), pirate or superhero, depending on the event I am attending or story I am reading.
My costume closet is actually bigger than my closet of everyday clothes!
Find Sandra's website, where you can purchase copies of the book, too: www.quiteacharacter.ca