There's nothing that gives me greater pleasure than seeing fledgling authors making their dreams come true. I remember well the feelings I experienced when I received my first picture book acceptance with an Australian publisher. It was a dance-around-the-house moment and whenever I hear of a new author scoring their own publication deal, I can completely understand the feelings of joy and elation that they must be experiencing.
That's why I'm absolutely thrilled to share with you the story of Karen Hendriks, an emerging author based in NSW who has used our mentoring services and has now scored herself a picture book deal with Empowering Resources.
Over the past twelve months, Karen has taken her career by the horns and committed on so many levels to making her dreams come through. Karen's passion and commitment are two huge keys to her success to date and I'm sure they will carry her through the exciting years to come.
I hope you'll find Karen's interview both inspiring and encouraging for your own journey. Whether you're published or not, I think we can all take a page out of Karen's book and learn from her tenacity and desire to succeed.
Hi, Karen, thanks for joining us today. Can you please tell our readers how long you've been writing for?
I finally committed to writing picture stories a year ago. It’s something that I have always wanted to do but until recently I gave into the fear factor and a feeling of vulnerability. I’ve never really had the time to write but, now that I’ve committed myself, there’s no turning back. I feel a need to write and it won’t leave me alone. When I was at university a very long time ago, a lecturer told me that I should write and it sort of stuck in the back of my mind.
Why did you choose to write picture books?
I’ve been a kindy teacher and my go-to tools were always picture books. My expertise was teaching reading. I’m a Reading Recovery trained teacher. My students and I fell in love with stories and magic and all sorts of wonderful ideas. Through picture books, we explored so many things beyond the world that my students knew.
I wanted to become a creator of this picture book magic too. When you talk to an adult about picture books and they share their favourite story with you, their face transforms and you can still see the child within. The child inside us all is still there peeping out.
One picture book can really change a life. I have gifted a book to a child who really had no possessions and the power of that one book was so intense. It’s a matter of finding the right book for the right child. Picture books really do light learning fires; they are the sparks. Best of all is that emotional bond and the intimacy of sharing something together that picture books create.
What's your favourite thing about writing?
My favourite thing about writing... This might seem weird but it’s the freedom and happiness that it brings. I love the unexpected things it brings to your day, that just happen to pop in unexpectedly and never would if you weren’t a writer. At the moment, I’m trying to build creative connections in my thinking. It’s confronting when you sit and think, What am I going to write about today?and nothing comes. But then other days it‘s there.
Writing allows you to dig deep and explore yourself and your thoughts. There’s nowhere to hide when you write so it challenges you all the time.
And the most challenging?
I know I have original and creative ideas but it’s developing my writer’s voice in the best way to share them that challenges me most. Some days you do wonder if you’re ever going to get there.
How has a mentorship with Greenleaf Press helped you?
Greenleaf Press is like a huge magnifying glass that passes over your writing. It highlights all those little gremlins hiding in the words. But it’s so much more than that too.
I’ve been mentored by Aleesah Darlison through Greenleaf. Her attention to detail, her strong sense of story and her knowledge of story voice and the flow of the writing has been very helpful.
As a fledgling writer, it seems like Aleesah can see your story through both the eyes of a reader and a writer at the same time. I think most of all I appreciate how the advice is given so positively because as a beginner writer you’re so fragile and have so much to learn.
When is your book due for release?
I wasn’t really sure when I should tell everyone. I’ve been sitting on my hands all year as I thought everybody will expect a book tomorrow and that’s not the case. It’s a waiting game but a very exciting one and it still doesn’t feel real. My fingers and toes are crossed for next February/March. The book is called Feathers and will be released through Empowering Resources. It’s a story of loss and hope and, of course, feathers.
What are you looking forward to most of all once your book comes out?
This is a hard one, but I hope the book’s message touches reader’s hearts and gives them comfort in some small way. Also, I look forward to being able to give a copy of the book to some very special children who were part of the inspiration for the book and I hope that they feel empowered by that gift.
Thanks for sharing your success with us Karen, we'll look forward to hearing more about Feathers - and sharing more news about the book with our readers - as we draw closer to your publication date. Good luck with it all!