AUTHOR INTERVIEW – AILEEN STEWART (Children’s Author)
Welcome to children’s author Aileen Stewart!
We’re so glad you could visit with us today, Aileen. Tell us about yourself, such as where you’re from/grew up/live now, what you do for fun, if you work at “day job” what do you do that may impact your writing, favorite pet/color/movie /book/actress/actor—you know, all that stuff that makes you interesting!
Hello everyone. My name is Aileen Stewart and I am an award winning children’s author, a blogger, a public speaker, and I host writing workshops for children.
I was born in Oakland, California, but when I was seven my family moved to, Willard, a small rural town in Ohio. I lived there until I was in my late twenties. When I moved, I moved to the neighboring community of Shelby, Ohio where I live to this day with my wonderful husband, beautiful daughter, and our crazy cat, Max, who thinks he’s a dog. But that’s a story for another day.
I hold a degree in Business Administration and a certificate in Sales/Marketing from North Central State College which I have put to good use since becoming published.
Besides writing, I love to cook, quilt, craft, take pictures, garden, travel, bird-watch, and volunteer at my daughter’s school. I also volunteer at my local library where I an in charge of the children’s display case. I am a firm believer that “Kids Who Can Read Can Do Anything” a motto which I created from lessons learned from my late father.
We could swap some crazy cat stories! When and why did you begin writing?
In fourth grade when I won honorable mention in a poetry contest I became aware of my love of writing. It also helped that my dad was a freelance writer for hunting and fishing magazines in his spare time and that both my parents were great story tellers. Being in an atmosphere of storytelling, writing, and extensive reading brought out my natural leaning toward all things literary.
For many years I dabbled with poetry and short stories, most of which were rejected. It wasn’t until my daughter was about three years old that I became serious about being a published author
What is the age group for your books’ fans?
I write middle grade children’s books for the average eight to twelve year old. I am working on some picture book ideas, but nothing that is published yet.
What’s your process? Seat-of-pants, well-devised outliner?
I don’t really have a process. I get random ideas while driving my daughter to school, while shopping or even just sitting around. I then just get on the computer and start typing. I edit and rearrange as I go, and eventually I have something resembling a story!
(Laughing here.) People warn us about not talking on our phones or texting while driving, but we writers know we do some of our best work behind the wheel! Maybe we should all get bumper stickers, “Warning: In case of novel idea, I may wander a bit.” What other writer inspires you? Your work?
There are so many great authors both living and dead that have and do inspire me. I read a wide variety of authors as a child, but the three that inspired me the most were Mark Twain, Phyllis A Whitney and George Elliot. Recently, I have to say I have been most inspired by JarrettKrosoczka and Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton. I have attempted some basic illustrations after having met Laurie and having watched a live studio session of Jarrett’s. I’m not sure tat I will ever be able to illustrate my own work, but I do have a few characters to entertain the children with when I host writing workshops.
What is your favorite work by you? And why is it your fav?
My favorite work is the unpublished, as of yet, sequel to my children’s book “Fern Valley – A Collection of Short Stories” called “Return To Fern Valley”. As much as I love the original “Fern Valley”, it is my personal belief that the sequel is even more interesting and has additional characters that weren’t explored in the first book.
That’s an adorable cover, Aileen! Where does your character inspiration come from?
My character inspiration comes from my real life experiences. For example, I chose farm animals as characters based on having spent many happy hours at a friend’s farm while growing up. Her family’s farm was a place of wonder and excitement where gathering eggs was not only a privilege but an adventure as we raced to keep one step ahead of the fearsome rooster. Unfortunately, that fearsome rooster was no match for her dad and his big 2×4. I’m sure he made a delicious dinner, however.
Now, for some author trivia. What’s your best/worst experience as a writer?
My best experiences are anywhere I get to interact with children. Although my all-time favorite experience thus far has been the very first writing workshop I hosted. I could be happy hosting workshops every day of the week!
How about the best/worst writing advice you ever got?
The best advice I have ever received was advice from my father when I was growing up. He always told my brother and me that a person was never a failure unless they simply quit trying.
Agreed! Failure can be a great learning experience and shouldn’t be feared. It’s the trying that counts. What is your latest work?
So far, Fern Valley is my latest and my only work. However, that is something I am striving hard to change!
What do you want your fans to know about you and your work?
I write about fun, family and friendship which I believe are the three most important things a child can experience. I also love a bit of mystery, and I am working at creating a mystery series for middle grade readers.
That sounds like a fun project. Tell us something about yourself that your readers don’t already know.
In my younger days I was quite the traveler. I have been to Hawaii three times, I have been to over half of the continental United States, I have been to both the Canadian and American sides of Niagara Falls as well as having visited Toronto. I have even visited Puerto Rico. When my husband, my daughter, and I travel nowadays, we always bring home a refrigerator magnet from the state we are visiting. I also take many photos as that is another great passion of mine.
Where can we find out more about you and your work?