Stephanie and I started planning this post many months ago. Originally this interview was scheduled for July. At the time I was in the midst of a move and I postponed it. Then she was on holiday. However, Stephanie didn’t forget about me and the interview. For that I’m really grateful. Please welcome my patient guest, Stephanie M. Ward, author of the adorable story Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin. Wally is so cute!
1. Can you tell us about yourself?
I’m a new children’s author who released my first book, Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin, earlier this year. The story was inspired by a year-long trip around the world where I had the chance to visit both Antarctica (Wally’s home) and the Galapagos Islands (the place Wally visits in search of warm weather). Before focusing on writing children’s books, I worked in the corporate world in Marketing and Public Relations, so essentially I’ve been writing in various formats for my entire career.
2. Have you always wanted to be a writer? A children’s writer?
I’ve always wanted to write books and started jotting down ideas for stories even as a child. My mother studied English and writes poetry so books and writing were part of my childhood. When people asked me what I would be if I could do anything, I always said writer, so one day I decided to give it a shot and gave up my corporate job to focus on writing. When I looked at my ideas, most were for children’s books, so I guess the simple answer to your question is “yes”!
3. What inspired you to write Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin?
Visiting Antarctica and being amidst Emperor Penguins made me wonder why they didn’t just pack up and go somewhere warmer. A couple of months later, I was in the Galapagos Islands and saw a colony of Galapagos Penguins swimming and playing in the sand. And there was the story: What if an Emperor Penguin learned that he could live on a warm, tropical island?
When I finally published Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin, I wanted to give back to the place that inspired the story. To that end, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin is donated to the Galapagos Conservancy (galapagos.org) to support conservation efforts in the Galapagos Islands.
4. Are you working on a new project?
Currently, I’m finalizing a picture book edition of Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin for older children. I hope to have this version out by the end of 2014. I’m also formatting the current edition into a paperback which is scheduled to be available at end of the year as well. After all that formatting work, I am looking forward to writing the next adventure for Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin. There are many fascinating (and warm) places in the world that Wally wants to visit, so stay tuned!
5. You’ve traveled to many different countries. Do you have a favorite?
There are many amazing places to visit, but I always find myself dreaming about the Amalfi Coast in Italy. I can’t tell you if it’s because of the dramatic scenery, fantastic food, stunning beaches or the warmth of the Italian people, but it’s my favorite place in the world.
6. What advice do you have for those who want to travel more?
Everyone travels in their own unique way, so my advice is to figure out how you want to see the world and do it your way. Someone told me about a man who spends five years planning, researching and reading about a place before traveling there for an extended amount of time. He even has time to learn the language. I wish I had the patience and tenacity to travel like that!
7. Did you find it difficult to self-publish a children’s story with illustrations?
Illustrations added some challenges, namely creating the illustrations (I can’t draw), formatting (I’m not tech savvy) and accepting a longer timeframe (I’m not very patient). Outsourcing was key for me. I worked with a talented, young Ecuadorian illustrator named Vanessa Landin who created vibrant images for the book. Plus, I was able to coerce my husband into designing the full-color illustrations in Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin in a fixed format so each spread is displayed consistently on any tablet or computer screen.
8. What hobbies do you have, besides reading and writing?
Food, wine and travel! Fortunately, they can all be combined so I’m often traveling to places to enjoy the food and wine in the region. Throw in a good book and some time to write and I’m pretty happy.
Stephanie M. Ward is the author of the children’s book, Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin. Stephanie has been writing in various forms over the last 20 years. Most notably she spent over 15 years in PR and Marketing at Amazon and Fujitsu writing everything from press releases to white papers, executive bios to product blurbs. Stephanie’s wanderlust finally got the best of her and she spent a year traveling across all seven continents. It was then that she decided to focus on writing stories for children about amazing places around the world. Stephanie currently lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband and young son.
Author Website & Blog – http://www.stephaniemward.com
Facebook Fan Page – http://www.facebook.com/wallythewarmweatherpenguin
Twitter – http://twitter.com/stephmward
Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin is available on Amazon websites worldwide.