Sybrina Durant is the author of The Rabbit and The Fox Learn To Tie Series of Books which include Learn To Tie A Neck Tie With The Rabbit and the Fox in English, Spanish and Tagalog; Ned Can Knot A Neck Tie; Nellie Can Knot A Neck Scarf and the newest addition, Cleo Can Tie A Bow. She also the author of The Blue Unicorn Series of books and has an online book store which features, unicorns, rabbits, foxes, and how to tie books plus gift items related to those things plus lots of bow-themed gifts.
Thanks for this interview, Sybrina. I’ve always wanted to write children’s books. When did you determine that writing for children was for you? I have 7 grandchildren so they were my main inspiration. In fact, I’ll never forget the day that I asked my little 3 year old granddaughter, “What is your favorite thing in the world to do?” With such innocence and a big delighted grin she exclaimed, “I like to mess up my room!” Ha! I just had to write that book! “Yarashell Abbily and Her Very Messy Room” with illustrations by Sara Wilson, is one of my favorites because it is about her (Yara) and my other 3 grand-daughters (Michelle, Emily and Abbey). The accompanying song, “I Like To Mess Up My Room”, is fun, too.
What was the inspiration behind your latest children’s book, “Cleo Can Tie A Bow?” I am the author of the “Learn To Tie With The Rabbit and The Fox” series of books. Most of those books focus on tying a knot in a neck tie by following the moves of a hungry fox chasing a rabbit through a forest. I tried, for years, to come up with a book that would teach how to tie a bow, using a similar method but I just couldn’t make it work. Finally, one day, I realized that I didn’t have to use the same exact method that I’d used in my other books. In this book, there’s no hungry fox. There’s no chase. This story focuses on a friendly fox that helps a long-eared rabbit keep her ears from dragging on the ground. She is a fox beautician of sorts. As the book came together, the illustrator Pumudi Gardiyasam turned out to be an inspiration for me, too. We worked together effortlessly. I was very fortunate to have found her.
How do you get into the mind of a child to create a fun reading experience? Are you around kids? Are you a kid at heart? My youngest grand child is 10 years old now so I’m not around little bitty kids much anymore. Even after I came up with the initial idea for Cleo, I had to write and re-write it many times before it became the story that is now published. I must give credit to the multitude of beta readers – nearly all mothers of young children – who helped me understand the sensitivities and concerns of parents during the year 2020. It has truly been eye opening for me.
What was your favorite book as a child? Fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen were my favorites. We weren’t very sensitive back then. I loved the Brothers Grimm’s Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rumpelstiltskin. From that list it looks like Walt Disney loved them, too! Then, there was Hans Christian Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Pea and so many others. Stories like those really enriched my life, growing up in a very poor family. Those and others like Alice In Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz even Aesop’s Fables set my imagination free. Thankfully, there was such a thing as a library, where books were free to anyone who wanted to read them. And thankfully, you can still get a library card for free today. Speaking of libraries. . . for those of you who don’t know. . .if you publish your ebook through Smashwords, they will distribute it to online libraries like Overdrive for you.
What kind of advice would you give writers who would like to write children’s books? Just start doing it. Do it now. There is really nothing to stop you these days. We live in a world where anyone can do anything they want. You can pursue any dream. All you need is a KDP account and you can publish your own book and it will be available for sale to the public through Amazon. There are lots of other places to do that, too. Just make sure you spend a little money for an editor, though, so that your book will look as professional as possible. If you want to write a picture book and you are not artistic, don’t let that stop you. There are thousands of great artists out there waiting for you to find them. And you can easily find them through provider services like Fiverr or through illustrator groups on Facebook and other social media sites. Just start looking. If you want songs for your books, you can find composers and singers the same way. If you want video book trailers, you can have them just as easily. If you think it, you can get it built. That’s just a little play on build it and they will come. Remember, your book is ultimately a product that you must sell. So, after you’ve published, don’t forget the marketing and promotion angle. It’s the only way that anyone will ever know your book actually exists. One of my marketing techniques is to have online stores related to each of my books on my blog. They are The Rabbit and The Fox Book Store, Girls Love Bows Gift Shop (hundreds of unique gifts for the bow-crazy girl), The Messy Room Book Store and Sybrina’s Unicorn Book Store. I list about 1,000 unicorn books and hundreds of unicorn themed gifts grouped in age categories for that one. Since I am an Amazon Associate, I can pick and choose exactly which products I want to present to my readers. Anyone can easily apply to be one and can do the same with ideas from their own books. Something for all you other authors out there to think about. . .
What are your goals for the future? More children’s books?
Finish reading at Over The Rainbow Book Reviews Blog.