Wednesday, October 16, 2013

An Interview with Justine Edwards, Author of Shine

Today I welcome Justine Edward, author of Shine, a children's book that was published this year. Yesterday I reviewed her book on my blog, and today we will find out more about Justine and the young boy who illustrated the book for her.

Where were you born and where do you call home? 
I was born in Cairns, Australia. I left there when I was 9 months old and, funnily enough, 35 years later I returned there again.

What do you do to relax?
I am fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. I relax by going for walks along the beach and spending time there with my family.

What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell myself that I am worthy. It took me a long time to learn to believe in myself. I wish I could have read a book like Shine when I was a child.

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
Nelson Mandela. I think he is inspirational. The words of Invictus are always with me:
“It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.”

What is your favourite book and why?
Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzburg. When my daughter was little she loved being creative but she was always making mess. And it used to drive me crazy. I bought Beautiful Oops as much for as for her because it shows that accidents can be masterpieces too; it all depends on how you look at them.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
Karl’s journey really touched me. For many years I wanted to help but I didn’t know how. With all my heart I wanted Karl, and the world around, to be able to see him as I did; full of light and love and incredible potential. So I started writing Shine.

Why do you write?
To encourage, inspire and empower others. I believe that words are powerful and I know they can shape attitudes, opinions and actions.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Roald Dahl is one of my greatest influences. I think he writes with such style and grace and he has such an amazing wit. He is able to analyze the human condition and summarize it perfectly in a couple of sentences.

Do you see writing as a career?
That is my aim. I hope that my book Shine will resonate with readers and will enable me to continue writing.

Please tell us a little bit about your book.
Shine is a children's picture book. It was illustrated by 7 year old Karl Gabriel, a close family friend. Karl is talented and clever and he also happens to have Autism Spectrum Disorder. Each of Karl’s beautiful crayon drawings is complimented by a positive affirmation, written in gentle prose. The message of the book speaks directly to the heart: believe in yourself and anything is possible.

Why do you think your readers are going to enjoy your book?
The book appeals to readers on many levels. One person said they bought it for their baby and ended up reading it to their preteen daughters. I think the illustrations and the poetic rhythm appeal to younger children while older readers fully appreciate the positive message of the book. 

How did you come up with the title?
Shine is what Karl does. It is what we can all do if we believe in ourselves. That is why I called the book Shine.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Believe in yourself and anything is possible.

What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
Leaving a review is a huge help to a self-published author. Being new, no-one has ever heard of you before. If they come across your book and someone has left an honest review it acts like a personal recommendation. They will be much more likely to read the
book if someone else has done so and enjoyed it. Also, telling others about the book helps to spread the message.

Do you think that giving books away free works and why?
Yes. As a self-published author you don’t have your books in many bookstores. So people can’t just walk in and stumble across it, or browse it before they buy it. That is why I give every reader the opportunity to read my book for free on my website. If they love it they will buy it. If not then I wouldn’t want them to buy it in the first place J Readers deserve to be informed.

What’s your view on social media for marketing?
It’s time consuming but I love connecting with people. And social media gives you the ability to do that.

Which social network worked best for you?
Twitter – surprisingly. Considering that I didn’t even know what a tweet was two months ago!

Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work?
I did a Goodreads giveaway and I had 1208 people request Shine (I gave away 15 copies). It was a lot of fun and I received some great reviews in exchange which I really appreciated.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I’d love you to stop by my website and take a look at Shine. I think you will take something positive away from the experience.

How can readers discover more about you and your work?

Thank you very much for joining us today Justine. All the best to you and to Karl. One of the reasons that I love "Shine" so much is that as a teacher of children with special needs, I can see that Karl is as touched by the book as you have been touched by him.

For my readers, what is the children's book that has either touched you the most, or is your favourite? Please leave a comment.

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