Delegates at our annual conference in April will have been gifted a copy of this new story thanks to the generosity of Owlet Press. We are delighted to welcome author Barbara Slade as writes about her inner child and the impact on her writing.
For nearly three decades, I’ve been blessed with a solid career writing for kid’s TV. Born in Los Angeles California, I worked on classics such as “Winnie the Pooh” and “Eloise” and served as head writer, developing and heading up the writing teams on much loved shows such as “Angelina Ballerina” and “Rotten Ralph”. Perhaps the biggest honour has been the awards I’ve received including a ‘Humanitus’ prize for one of my “Rugrats” episodes titled “I Remember Melville”, a story I fought hard to tell, that teaches kids about death and the normal stages of grief. Twenty years ago, I had the amazing opportunity to move to the U.K. and became a citizen under the highly skilled migrant worker program. I began working with production companies and channels here and throughout Europe, helping them develop high quality programmes for kids that would not only sell internationally, but would ring ‘true’ to their audiences.
People often ask where my stories come from, and the answer is simple. They come from the child in me. Over the years, I’ve realized that she is the one who tells me what I should write, and the more I listen, the better my stories are. Of course, as a writer I’ve also had to work hard and learn my craft, but I’ve come to realize that these childhood experiences… the magical and adventurous, the joyful and also painful, are the human experiences that create an endless toolbox I can always rely on.
“Cinder and Ella” is my first children’s book and one that I’ve been wanting to write for a very long time. I have no doubt that the seeds of this story began when I was six years old and an official card- carrying member of ‘The Married Club’… a club my friends at school invented, complete with rings and solemn vows to be best friends and be married to each other forever. There were five of us in the club and all of us were girls. I remember being teased for this adamant ‘exclusivity’ but at the age of six, nothing could have felt more normal. However, when I was a child, there was only one story, and I grew up being told that if I could just marry a prince, I would live happily ever after. Little did I suspect that fifty years later I would find my true happiness, life partner and beloved wife.
As an author, my dream was to transform the classic tale of Cinderella into a joyful celebration of love and strength for the LGBTQ community and beyond, shining a light on the real truth – that love is love and that ‘happily ever after’ is here for us all.
I am deeply grateful for the countless heroes who have paved the path before me. I am grateful to the U.K. and for the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic ruling on marriage equality. I am also grateful to have reached this stage in my career and life to feel safe enough to be fully out. But as with so many, it has been a long journey. I wish I could have had role models as a child and wish there had been stories that offered a ‘glimpse’ of what an alternative happy future could have looked like.
I truly hope that “Cinder and Ella” offers that hopeful glimpse to the vast LGBTQ+ community and teaches all children that it is their right to love who they love and marry who they want.
Cinder and Ella by Barbara Slade, illustrated by Lucia Soto, is published by Owlet Press on 1st June 2023, simultaneously in hardback and paperback. www.owletpress.com
Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Federation