Ken Hickson spent 10 Minutes with Sarah Mounsey, Singapore-based self-published children’s book author.
What got you started writing children’s books?
I have always wanted to write books for children! I still have little books and stories that I made in primary school, and I love sharing them with children today to show them that dreams can come true. When I was a primary school teacher, I was always looking for new children’s books titles and would think to myself, ‘One day I want to write my own’.
The time came when I was on maternity leave with my first child and I decided it was time to start writing again. I was living in London and enrolled in some picture book writing courses. That was in 2008, and I’ve been writing regularly ever since.
How did your childhood influence you in your decision to become a writer?
I went to a wonderful primary school in Brisbane and had some fabulous teachers who knew how much I loved to read and write – and really encouraged me in this area. My Year 7 teacher did two amazing things for me that had a profound impact on my writing life. The first was choosing me as the only child from our school to go to a question and answer session with Judy Blume – one of my favourite authors.
The second was entering some of my writing into a competition where I was selected to go on a Writer’s Camp and [Australian Children’s author] Gary Crew was one of the presenters. I went back to my old primary school and spoke to the children last year and it was pretty special to share these special memories and talk about my journey to publication.
How has your writing and publishing career progressed since coming to Singapore?
I have created my own publishing company in Singapore and have self-published three books in the Paw Prints series. I do not think I would have done this if I had not moved to Singapore and made friends in the writing community who encouraged me. It has been an incredibly positive experience and the books have done better than I ever dreamed. My stories are silly and fun, and I love sharing these types of stories with children and encouraging their imaginations to fly.
ANZA was a big part of my initial writing journey in Singapore. I joined the ANZA Writer’s Group and my first draft for Purple Paw Prints was written in a meeting! Thank you also to many of you who have come along to my events and enjoyed my books with your children.
How has the ‘being published’ experience been for you?
Amazing! But a lot of hard work because it is a very competitive industry and books do not sell without you working hard to get your name and books known.
Any advice for those who want to do books for children?
Read as many books as you can in the genre you are writing for. Join the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and join a writing critique group. We have a friendly group here in Singapore.