A brilliant and beautiful story! Delightfully illustrated and perfect for sharing with all ages! We were so excited to be able to ask Gareth a few questions about his debut picture book!
This is your debut picture book, how have you found the publishing process?
I have loved every single, creative minute. To do something you truly love is amazing and I feel incredibly lucky to have the chance to tell my stories.
I feel honoured to have an agent who has found beautiful homes for my texts. I’m reminded everyday just how lucky I am when I see the finished books on my shelves. I cannot say thank you enough to the wonderful publishers who have taken chances on me and my ideas. If you work hard and are dedicated to your craft, great things can happen.
This story is beautifully written, and full of amazing illustrations from Garry Parsons! What were your thoughts when you started seeing the pages come together?
Thank you, that is very kind of you. I think Garry is a genius and the perfect illustrator for this book. His images have so much character and warmth in them and I find new things all the time. When I first saw them, I cried. He had elevated the story and enhanced it in every single way. I appreciate every detail that the team added, as they made the book and story and message truly come alive. They are superstars!
Why do you feel we need more books that represent different families?
I think it’s so important for children to see themselves within literature. We have an obligation to show the diversity of our world within every type of media. If you see the world through the eyes of a child, then you see it as a tolerant, accepting and wonderful place… and this starts at home with wonderful books. So, I will always allow my boys to see stories about different families, people and situations. There is so much colour in our world, and we should always keep our eyes open to see it.
How long did this book take from the beginning stages to finished copy?
This is difficult to answer really, as I worked on it for me for many months, with no idea I wanted to get it published. Then I started to edit it with a view to sending it to agents and then again, once we’d found a publisher. It was stop-start for quite a long time. At a guess, I’d say about three years. However, then there was a year’s delay due to Covid. So, closer to four years.
Picture books take a long time to get right. They may seem simple, but there is a lot of collaboration and planning that goes into them. But the wait is certainly worth it.
Are you working on anything else that you can share with us?
I am working on several edits for other publishers currently as well as several new ideas. I also have some out on submission too… fingers crossed please. I am really excited about these books.
I’m working on stories about dragons, about performing, about friendship and family. And there are several that are dancing on my mind asking to be written. Its great fun being an author. Keep an eye out at Christmas for a fun Elf book and next year, for my love letter to parenting… I am very proud of that one.
What do you hope children will take from/learn from your book?
I hope that everyone will see a normal and loving family. As that is simply what it is. Regardless of the dynamic, families are wonderful and come in all shapes and sizes. It is ok to have any type of family and if this book helps highlight, then we would all be very happy people. I never felt I was writing a message book; I was simply writing about a loving family, like mine, that adored books. It happens, it’s about two daddies, but I feel any family could get enjoyed from the book.
Do you have a favourite writing spot!
I do indeed… my living room, dolloped on the sofa with a coffee and some biscuits. The dogs are at my feet (or sofa) and I gaze out the window and wait for inspiration. It sounds magical, but sometimes I do get stuck in a YouTube video cycle. But sometimes, fun stories dance out of my mind. Those are the best days.
What is your background before writing?
I guess I have always written in some form. It was poems and theatre reviews at school and then musicals and plays when I was at Uni. I love being creative and telling stories, it’s part of who I am. When I was about 21 I completed my first novel and started on a children’s book idea, but that eventually turned in to a musical. But it was after I adopted that I really focused on writing solely for children… and I’m loving every minute. You can be so creative and fun and exciting.