Interview with childrens’ book author, Kelly Charleson

book reviews, Interviews, Uncategorized

This post is dedicated to my new friend, Kelly Ann Charleson, who took the time to DM me on Instagram — pointing out that we are both children book authors, plus HUGE fans of Matthew Good!  On top of that she has the same name as my daughter and has two sisters as well!

photo of childrens author kelly charleson
Photo credit: Kelly Charleson

Kelly Ann Charleson is the author of “If I were a Dinosaur”, and The Woodland Series: “The Deer”, “The Den” and “The Socks”. She is a passionate writer and illustrator. Kelly is originally from Australia, but now lives in Ottawa.

You can follow her on Facebook: Kelly Ann Charleson and Instagram @kellyanncharleson

Below are the links to her current four books:
https://www.blurb.ca/b/9334245-the-socks
https://www.blurb.com/b/9337555-the-den
https://www.blurb.ca/b/9311692-the-deer
https://www.blurb.ca/b/9337490-if-i-were-a-dinosaur

Kelly’s story

I am very lucky to have the opportunity to interview Kelly, as she is one busy lady! 

I wanted to share Kelly’s story, because she is so genuine and has such a lovely message behind her books.  As well, her stories are not ‘typical’ – three of her books deal with difficult life issues written in a way that children can understand and relate to: such as miscarriage in pregnancy/loss of a sibling (The Deer), living with an auto immune disease (The Socks) and loss of a parent/adoption (The Den).

Me: Recently, you posted a copy of an ‘old treasure’ – a book titled: “Kelly’s Holiday Story Book” on Instagram.  You wrote: “Looks like I’ve been an author/illustrator from the start.”  It’s amazing what children are capable of creating on their own, if left to their own vices.  I find that these days, kids don’t have a lot of down time -just a chance to sit down and be creative.  I remember spending my childhood engaged in creative play and drawing, but my own kids don’t really like to read (think electronics!).

So, what exactly motivated or inspired you to begin writing and illustrating for publication?

Kelly: I’ve known for years that someday, I would like to be a foster mom, so until I’m in a position to do so I’ve joined a few groups so that I can learn more about the reality of it all. One thing that stood out to me was the amount of parents asking for recommendations of books that deal with issues relating to foster care and adoption, and how few fictional resources there were to meet those needs. Initially, I was making books for the little ones in my life just for fun, but once I realized that there is need for these very niche, touchy topics to be addressed, I decided to create The Woodland Family series, and started making my books available to a wider audience.

Me: It’s hard enough to be a self-published author and your book content is very unique.  I asked you why you included a full free preview of your books on blurb.ca, and you replied that you wanted to “make sure that any child who could benefit from reading one of my books is able to access it, whether or not an adult can buy it for them.”  That is ABSOLUTELY amazing! So, with this in mind, what are your plans to reach your target market?

Kelly: Once I start taking my books to markets, libraries, schools, etc., I’m hoping that the exposure and word of mouth will help the books to find the children who might need them. In addition to that, I hope to continue teaming up with local organizations that are relevant to the topics covered in my books. I really enjoy supporting worthwhile causes, so if an opportunity for working together to bring attention to an important issue arises, I’m more than happy to go for it. My latest book was loosely based on a local project, and we’ve both been able to see some of the impact that partnership has had already, which has been really exciting.

Me: I learned about your books because of your DM through Instagram.  Do you think that social media is a helpful venue for you to market yourself and your books?

Kelly: At the very least, it’s great for networking. I created an Instagram account to promote my work, but have found it to be more a place of community and support than a marketing tool. It’s great seeing all of the other authors on there, and sharing/receiving tips and encouragement.

Having said that, hash tags do seem to attract people to the themes of my books when it’s something the individual has a personal connection with, and I’ve found Facebook helpful for advertising and promotion. I am rather oblivious when it comes to any social media platforms outside of those two!

Me: I saw online that the first book you wrote “The Garden Thieves” is no longer available.  Can you explain why?

Kelly: The Garden Thieves was originally written a year prior to publication under the title Princess Akeeba and the Night Thieves. The first edition was created as a gift for a little girl who I loved very much, and I re-designed the illustrations of the book as a part of my grieving process when I lost her. Removing the book from circulation was a tough decision, because I really liked the book, but ultimately I realized that it was an important step in that process for me.

Me:  I am very sorry for your loss and hope that your book has helped you heal.  I love that you allow people to contact you with special requests for book topics (a note at the end of each of your books).  For “The Deer” – you mentioned that you were asked by a mom to write a book about miscarriage, after she suffered the loss of her baby and didn’t know how to explain to her son why his sister would not come home. 

There are so many sensitive issues that we might experience early in life, so I am thrilled that you have found a way to address them in your books using very simple language and illustration. Reading, “The Den” brought tears to my eyes – children not feeling ‘loved’ because of a new addition to the family.   I believe that life is uncomplicated from the view of children, so parents paying more attention to the ‘baby’ is equal to them no longer being loved.  But in real life, this is not true at all, yet it takes growing up to learn this.

I have two suggestions for book topics: 1) death of a parent/sibling 2) divorce of parents.  I have seen the impact on friends/family who experienced these traumatic events as children.

That being said, are you working on your next book?

Kelly: Thank you for your feedback – those are definitely important topics, and I’ll see what I can do with them.

I’m taking a bit of a break over the summer (I can’t believe I ever took sunshine and warmth for granted! Living in Canada makes me want to LIVE outside between April and November…), but I’ve started putting some notes together for the next stand-alone book. I’ll be diving back into my counselling study notes for this one, but it’ll be an easier read than The Woodland Family books, in more ways than one!

Me: Kelly, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions.  It’s been great learning about your creative process and hopes of helping children deal with real life issues.  I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavours!

Kelly: Thank you so much, Monica! It has been an absolute pleasure interviewing with you.

In this thing called life, you never know who you might touch with your words.

Where did Monica go?

Events/Shows, Self-Publishing (books)
illustration from winter moose visits alberta book
A little sneak peek of one illustration from Winter Moose Visits Alberta

Hi everyone! Hope you didn’t forget about me. I haven’t written much on my blog lately – but that’s because…

I have been a very busy bee, preparing for the launch of my third book, Winter Moose Visits Alberta. The book was on my back-burner and I wanted to complete and publish it this year, but of course, things happen and now I am pushed to wrap things up in a short period of time.

Following up with my Chapters’ contacts has paid off – I will participate in a couple of in-store books events this coming March.

I will be posting more information soon on my website as well:

www.CanadianAdventureBooksbyMonica.com

Reason for my push

Did I mention that I have two (yes, not one but TWO) book events scheduled at Chapters? I will be in person at the Chapters Newmarket on Saturday, March 16, 2019, and Chapters Markham (Woodbine/Highway 7) on Saturday, March 23, 2019. I will post details with address and time details once I submit my book for printing!

I am so excited! I thought what better opportunity to launch my third book than at my upcoming book events.

I hope you will be able to make at least one of the events. My sister, Juliann will also be promoting her book at the same time. Some come out and have some fun!

The joy of having a book reading

Uncategorized
photo of monica doing a book reading

I had another school book reading event today.  It is always exciting to share my books with children and give my time to the community.  Thank you to Silver Stream PS for allowing me this pleasure.

Special message: Anti-Bullying

I feel it is really important to bring up the topic of bullying with the children.  I hope to spread the message that bullying is wrong and we do not have to accept it. Bullying is so prevalent today and affects our children, ourselves and our communities. In the ‘old days’, there was no online bullying, so I believe people have it even tougher today.  Can you imagine bullies following you home every day?

What does a book reading have to do with bullying?

When I started my writing process back in August 2017, my sisters and I talked a lot about how we got to where we are today, and with that, our own personal experiences with bullying in our school days and how our experiences shaped our adult lives.

When I was younger, I was called a “Chink” (the negative connotation of being Chinese), fat and too shy.  I didn’t know that I could stand up to my bullies.  Instead, I stayed silent and let the mean comments eat away at me. When I was 10 years old, my cousin who I never before called me negatively, “Fay, Fay” (direct Chinese translation, Fat Fat or fatso). Even in my adult life, my aunt who normally said nothing to me said I was so fat.  I just ran away, cried, and vowed never to talk to her again.  But the point is, it doesn’t have to be like this.  I could have said “talk to the hand” or shut up, or something – or anything at all, but I didn’t. 

Writing and drawing have always been a great outlet for my feelings. It is through following my passions throughout life that I gain confidence and learn not to care what others think of me.  I hope to share this message with our children and the world.  In this thing called life, we must be strong and remember that we are valuable members of our society.

Take Home message: Stop the bullies in their track. You don’t need to tolerate their mean words or actions. Stand up for your awesome self.

Below is The Tale of Three Sisters, our personal experiences with bullying, illustrated and compiled by my younger sister, Annette.  

tale of three sisters
page 2 of tale of three sisters