Sometimes you just have to listen to that little voice in your head that says:
“Do it. Do it. DO IT!”
For as long as I can remember, I've loved the written word. As a child, I devoured books quicker than my librarians could recommend them. My imagination was colourful and my wit was quick (or so my teachers told my parents). I was always getting into trouble for making up some over the top ‘story’.
It’s no surprise then, that in my adult life, I found myself in the creative field as an Art Director for an ad agency.
Here, I honed my skills as a designer and dabbled in the occasional writing of words to create a campaign or to communicate a client’s product or service. I would never in a million years have considered myself a ‘writer’.
But the stories kept coming, and the voice grew louder.
I found myself wishing and yearning for more, and asking others for validation. “Am I being crazy? Could I really do this? Who would want to read my stuff anyway? YOU’RE NOT A WRITER!”
Often, when all was quiet, a little verse or rhyme would tickle my brain and gently draw my attention. “Here I am,” it would say. “Look at me! Imagine where I could take you…”
So, one day, a little before my 40th birthday, I did just that (partly to shut the little bugger up) but mostly to see where this niggling would lead, and what magic lay beyond the badgering.
I can only tell you that ‘I want to be a Rock Star’ and ‘I want to be a Movie Star’ were gifts downloaded from somewhere else. Where? I don’t know, but what I do know is that in less than an hour of sitting at my desk, these two fully completed manuscripts had ‘arrived’.
So, now what?
For seven years, these two little stories sat on my laptop taunting me. “So now what? We’re here! What are you going to do with us?”
To be honest, I had no idea. The manuscripts had been edited and I had tried the conventional route – submitting to various publishers with little or no response. I had even approached author’s agents to discuss representing me but, like most indie authors, the rejections became too confronting and life just got in the way. I kept telling myself “YOU’RE NOT A WRITER!”
At the time, my then seven year old had heard about “my books” and my dream of becoming a children’s author enough to start asking questions. “When are you going to publish them mumma? What are you going to do?” It made me realise that, beyond my own aspirations, I had a real opportunity – an obligation in fact – to teach him the importance of setting a goal and seeing it through.
The decision to self publish was not made lightly. Being in the industry, I was fully aware of the costs involved and the commitment required to bring this idea to life. Nonetheless, once the decision was made in my head, I was all in guns blazing.
I found Anil Tortop via an online writers and illustrators group. She answered my callout for an illustrator and pointed me in the direction of her website Tadaa Books.
The truth is, I’m a firm believer that the universe delivers just the right people at just the right time. Like my manuscripts, Anil Tortop and her husband Ozan were gifts to me, sent to guide me through the self-publishing process and bring my manuscripts to life.
From day one, Anil understood my direction, my vision and my passion.
Admitting to crying when she sent me initial sketches of the Rock Star character probably isn’t cool, but it’s true – I cried. In fact, I cried A LOT during the production process. With every new draft and every new illustration, I watched as she took my concept and created magic.
It should come as no surprise to learn then, that the day my print samples arrived was, indeed, a sook-fest. I sat on the floor with my son (who’d been watching the progress of the book with varying degrees of interest) the package before us. I opened the box, reached in and handed him the first copy. As he read the dedication, his big brown eyes welled up and his lower lip quivered. He looked at me and, with the softest of voices said: “Look mumma, you did it. You really made your dream come true – I’m really proud of you!”
‘I want to be a Rock Star’, the first in a series of ‘I want to be…’ books is more than just the realisation of a dream for me – it is confirmation that anything is possible if your dream is big enough and you’re willing to listen to that niggling inner voice.
To Anil and Ozan Tortop – thankyou. You are indeed Rock Stars, and I will be forever grateful.
Mary Anastasiou A self confessed chocoholic, pluviophile and lover of all things kid lit, Mary writes books that she hopes will engage, inspire and empower little people on their journey to becoming big people.
Grab copies of Mary's books today! CLICK HERE.
Grab copies of Mary's books today! CLICK HERE.