Stephanie Ward is an award-winning author of sweet, unique and rib-tickling children’s books. Her latest book, Arabella and the Magic Pencil, described by Armadillo Magazine as "a truly delightful book", is a story all about the dangers of mixing sibling rivalry with magic pencils! Before deciding to dedicate herself full-time to doing what she loves – writing for children – Stephanie worked for 15 years in public relations. She also loves to travel and explore new places. Nowadays, she tends to split her time between London, Seattle and Sydney but spends most of her time in London with her husband and son.
In this interview, Stephanie reveals just how long the idea behind Arabella and the Magic Pencil has been with her and what continues to surprise her most about being a published author.
What Drove You to Write Your First Book?
Arabella and the Magic Pencil evolved from an assignment in 8th grade English class. I still remember sitting at my desk and being instructed to write a creative paragraph. I looked down at the pencil on my desk and decided to write about a magic pencil that brought drawings to life and could erase things it didn't like. Many years later, when I was brainstorming ideas for picture books, that story popped into my mind.
How Did You Go About Getting It Published?
After hearing Anoushka Jones speak at the Writing NSW Children's & YA Festival, I targeted EK Books and their wonderful selection of picture books with heart for Arabella and the Magic Pencil. I sent in a submission through the slush pile and, fortunately, it was a fit for EK Books' list! I couldn’t be more pleased to see the story come to life with absolutely dreamy illustrations by Shaney Hyde and the brilliant work of everyone at EK Books.
What Part About Becoming a Published Author Has Surprised You?
A lot of work happens in the background. One day, I'll stumble across a new bookstore who carries my book. The next, a lovely review will come out in a national newspaper. Another day, I'll find the book discounted online. Although there are things I won't know, at the end of the day, we are all working toward the same goal.
What Did You Wish You Knew Before You Got Your Book Published?
I wish (and still do) that I could understand the business of bookselling. It's surprising to find local bookstores can't carry a local author's book. It's confusing when an online retailer heavily discounts your book for no apparent reason. It's frustrating to see the same handful of books in storefront displays. But, books don't sell themselves. Reviews don't fall from trees. People can't buy a book if they don't know it exists. So, it's trying to figure out how to get a book in front of its target audience that is the challenge. Unfortunately, there's no silver bullet.
What Is the Most Satisfying Thing About Being a Published Author?
It's such a joy to see my book - that little story I wrote so long ago, now with lovely illustrations in the classic picture book format - on bookshelves, in shelfies and in the hands of children who enjoyed the story.