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Book Chat: Sharon Giltrow

Sharon Giltrow is a highly respected author, blogger and educator, with extensive experience teaching children with Developmental Language Disorder, as well as hearing impaired and Deaf-Blind children. Sharon's first book for children, BEDTIME, DADDY!, was published by EK Books in 2020, and her follow-up title, GET READY, MAMA! is now with us. It's a great pleasure to welcome Sharon to the blog.

Hi Sharon, and a very warm welcome to Book Chat! I’m really excited to learn more about your writing practice, and about the journey leading up to the publication of GET READY, MAMA!


To begin with, I’d love to know about your own path towards becoming an author. What was it like having your first book, BEDTIME, DADDY!, published in 2020?


Hi Cameron and thank you for inviting me onto your Book Chat Blog. I'm a long-time reader but first-time interviewee. My path towards becoming an author has been a long and windy path. I began writing picture books in 2006 following the birth of my first child. Then I got a little busy being a mum especially when my second child was born in 2009. It wasn’t until 2013 when I was able to dedicate some time to developing my skills as a writer. I submitted my first picture book manuscript in 2016. That manuscript wasn’t picked up, but I continued writing, revising and submitting. Then in 2018 my manuscript BEDTIME, DADDY! was picked up by EK Books. I was on my way to becoming a published author. The day I signed the contract with EK Books was one of the happiest and most rewarding days in my life. I started calling myself an author. I declared to all my families and friends that BEDTIME, DADDY! was the first of many picture books that I would have published. Then the lengthy process of my story becoming an actual book began.


What inspired you to write your latest title, GET READY, MAMA!?


Not surprisingly the inspiration for GET READY, MAMA! actually came from BEDTIME, DADDY! being published. I wanted to write a follow up book. I wanted it to be about a mum and another challenging part of the day for parents. Getting ready in the morning was a logical choice. Inspiration also came from my daughter (now a teenager) who is a reluctant riser. I have to wake her up everyday and encourage (nag) her to get ready and out the door on time. As a parent I know that I’m not the only person who faces this challenge. Also, as a teacher I often see and hear how parents struggle to get their children ready for school in the morning. I wanted to offer parents (and myself) a humorous guide to help with this challenging time of the day.

You’ve very effectively used the idea of role reversal in GET READY, MAMA!, with a child taking on a parental role. As well as making for a very fun book, this approach strikes me as a great way to encourage children to put themselves in others’ shoes and consider different perspectives. Did any other book or experience in particular alert you to the value of this approach?


Empathy, is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. This is an important underlying theme that runs through GET READY, MAMA! Children can literally put themselves in someone else’s shoes and imagine how they might feel. The story encourages children to role play and investigate the feelings of others. In this case how does it feel to be a mama who has to get a child ready for the day. BEDTIME, DADDY! also follows this approach but in that case how does it feel to be a daddy who has to get a child ready for bed.


Has your experience as a teacher informed your creative writing process in any unexpected ways?


Being a teacher greatly enhances my creative writing process. From brainstorming initial ideas, to sharing initial drafts, the storyboard and then to reading the final book. I encourage my students to give me feedback throughout the whole process. I also get to read picture books everyday and see how the children respond.


Are there any particular messages you want GET READY, MAMA! to leave with your readers?


I would like to leave the readers of GET READY, MAMA! thinking about family, especially the bonds between children and parents, and empathy. As well as encouraging them to take the time to see joy, humour and happiness in everyday routines. 'You're never too late for cuddles.'


I’d love to know a little about how the artwork for GET READY, MAMA! came together. Was there a lot of direct collaboration with your wonderful illustrator, Arielle Li?


Yes, there was a lot of direct collaboration with Arielle and myself, which I am very grateful for. EK Books sign the author and illustrator up at the same time. So, before I even signed the contract, I knew Arielle would be illustrating GET READY, MAMA! They introduced me to Arielle (via email) and throughout the publishing process encouraged us to work together. This collaboration included choosing the initial characters – human or guinea pigs, the cover design, and the storyboard. Arielle did an amazing job picturing the story and matching my words to her illustrations. While at the same time adding some fantastic and surprising elements to the story.

When you develop the initial idea for your books, do you usually think more in terms of words or images, or does it tend to be a combination of both?


I develop my initial idea by brainstorming the characters. For example, their name, age, physical appearance, pets, hobbies, family, talents, fears, wants. Then I brainstorm the setting, and possible plot ideas. I do this through images and words. I brainstorm the idea for twenty minutes each day for a week before I start writing the first draft.


Do you have a particular method to the way you draft your manuscripts?


After brainstorming the idea, I look for mentor texts, which are books either written in a similar way or about a similar theme. This is important to see how to make my story different and stand out from other similar books. Then I do any research about the topic. Finally, I plot out my story using the ‘Three-act structure’. Beginning – hook, intro, problem, set up. Middle - challenges, obstacles, confrontation. Ending – completion and resolution. Then I start writing. Easy!!??


That's a really concise summary of the Three-act structure. I'm going to write that down!


So, what’s next for Sharon Giltrow?


I have two more picture books coming out this year and next year, both using the same structure as BEDTIME, DADDY! and GET READY, MAMA! One is about taking a grandma shopping and the other is about taking a grandpa to the beach. So, once these books are released my ‘how to’ role reversal picture book family will be complete. I also have an early middle grade book being released this year, which is about an eleven-year-old girl who is given a mysterious gift. I am currently editing book two and writing book three in this series.


Exciting times! Where can readers find you online and get hold of GET READY, MAMA!, as well as your other books?


Readers can connect with me through my website - https://www.sharongiltrowauthor.com/


When purchasing my books first please check to see if they’re available through your local bookshop. I am a big supporter of buying books from local bookshops.


If not available locally then they are available through EK Books and all online bookshops.


Also, your local library is a great place to get a copy of GET READY, MAMA! and BEDTIME, DADDY!


Thanks again for your time, Sharon, and huge congratulations on the release of GET READY, MAMA! Kids and parents are going to have a great time reading it together and thinking about the quirks of their own get-ready procedures!


This post is part of a blog tour for GET READY, MAMA!, presented by Books On Tour PR & Marketing. Please keep following Sharon's journey on all of the fine blogs below.


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