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Gwynneth Beasley Interview and Giveaway

August 26, 2010

Gwynneth Beasley has a series of children’s books that are beautifully illustrated with photography, fabulously written, and down-to-earth yet embedded with subtle spiritual thoughts. Zeke and Ky’s everyday adventures lead their family to explore life-affirming ideas about positive thinking, seeing things through another’s eyes, and intentionally choosing whether to be scared of something or not. These are ideas all of us could stand to think about, adults and kids alike. Amazingly, there’s not a drop of lecture in these books. In case you’re wondering, this takes talent and finesse, as well as the totally admirable ability to hold one’s tongue, speaking in a typographical way. Click on this image for a sample (I took all these shoddy pictures myself! Clicking makes it slightly better…):

I have read a fair bit of children’s book drivel with absolutely no point worth spending time on, though I do know there’s a place for nonsense in our lives, I just think it can be nonsense with some purpose to it… Hmm. So I was beside myself with excitement when three Zeke and Ky books arrived in the mail. My kids love reading about Zeke and Ky, as do the adults who enable them.

Gwynneth was kind enough to answer a few questions. I managed, just barely, to not ask her what kind of pie she likes. It was hard but I did it in the heroic effort of Not Taking Too Much of Her Time. But now I really want to know… about the pie….

Where does the inspiration for your stories come from?

I got my inspiration for the Zeke and Ky series from my children. There have been many times as a parent when my children have needed guidance from me to help them process certain situations but I have been at a loss for wise words in those moments. The Zeke and Ky books were inspired by those times, my attempt to impart the knowledge my children needed, and somehow make up for my failings at the time!

Your stories have such a valuable point to them but they are not didactic, which makes them much more enjoyable than a lecture! Does this come naturally to you?

Not really! My eldest son does not like being told what to do, think, or say at all so I have had to learn how to become skilled at the art of subtlety.

Your photos function differently than the illustrations in most children’s books that I’ve seen. Instead of always depicting the main action or moment on the page, they artistically show a piece of the moment, like the shadows of three children playing. In a wonderful way it leaves so much to our own imaginings. Is there a lot of planning ahead how to photograph and layout the photos and story, or does it come together more organically?

Thank you! These books are aimed at children who are transitioning from picture books to chapter books. I think its age and stage appropriate for them to have to use their imagination more to help with the transition. I actually had a lot of the photographs used in the books before I even wrote them, and I would often shape the plot around a photo I knew I had. When it came to the stage that I had to take my children on photo shoots, I usually wouldn’t tell them that was what I was doing. I would just take them to the beach, or the park, and snap away and hope for the best!

Have photography, art and writing always been a part of your life?

Art and writing have been in and out of my focus over the years but I am new to photography. I can’t remember ever having a camera before I had kids! I find that taking a lot of photos helps me stay in the moment with my children and that I get a lot more enjoyment out of life when I am present in those moments.

What led you to self-publish? How have you found the process so far?

I wrote these books during the GFC aftermath, and my research was that the publishing industry was struggling as much as any other industry. I was not in a stage of life when I felt like receiving rejection letters so I chose to self publish. I have found self publishing to be an easy and enjoyable process which I would recommend to anyone.

What are some favorite books you and your family enjoy?

At the moment we exclusively read the Dinosaur Cove books by Rex Stone. I don’t think they are in print anymore but the second hand dealers on Amazon sell them. In the Dinosaur Cove series two boys adventure back in time and find themselves in all sorts of encounters with dinosaurs. The boys use all the usual adventure gadgets, like binoculars and compasses, they draw maps of where they have been, and keep their adventures secret from others. My boys spend hours acting out this sort of thing in the garden so they have really connected with the whole series.

Find Gwynneth’s blog here and another interview on The Magnifying Glass here. Also check out her Amazon page to see a little video she made.

Gwynneth has offered to mail a copy of Zeke, Ky and the Wooden Wands from her home in Australia to a Rock Pool winner. Just leave comment of any sort (well, hopefully the nice sort) by the third of September and check back to see if you’ve won. Thanks Gwynneth!

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. August 26, 2010 6:00 pm

    I am a big fan of Zeke and Ky! Great interview, thank you Maryam for sharing this with us! I’m thrilled to have found this blog!!

  2. August 26, 2010 11:56 pm

    Ohhh can I enter? >_>

    ‘Then he gave himself amazing abilities to climb up trees, but he couldn’t climb down so he had to be rescued.’

    This reminds me of the picture books I used to adore when I was younger – Posy Simmonds and Jill Murphy and Shirley Hughes – I read and reread them so many times and every time was like the first time. Isn’t it strange?

    It’s sad that picture books of late don’t have that temporal durability and timelessness that those older books had. But Gwynneth Beasley’s look like they ought to belong there.

    I’m not sure if it is more the case that I want the books for my (speculative) kids, or that I want kids for the books. XD

  3. August 27, 2010 6:53 pm

    Thanks for sharing these wonderful thoughts. My son loves books with photographs more than anything else – especially ones that have other kids in them. I hadn’t heard of Gwynneth’s books before this but now I am definitely going to check them out!

  4. Harmony Meussner permalink
    August 27, 2010 7:14 pm

    What a great interview!
    I can’t wait to read these books! I love books that don’t talk down to kids. The author sounds so down to earth–yay!

  5. B Momma permalink
    August 27, 2010 7:24 pm

    I have not read these books yet (I’m only now just learning about them!). But I like the idea of real pictures and no lectures.

  6. WoolM permalink
    August 28, 2010 3:04 am

    Nice interview!
    I really like the idea of self publishing. Especially a mom self publishing. Thanks for the inspiration.

  7. avalonne83 permalink
    August 28, 2010 9:30 am

    Great giveaway! I’d love to be entered.

    Please count me in. Thanks.

    avalonne83 [at]yahoo [dot] it

  8. eatyourweeds permalink
    August 28, 2010 12:35 pm

    I loved her comment, “I have had to learn how to become skilled at the art of subtlety”. Boy-howdy! Me too!

  9. August 29, 2010 12:17 pm

    As a grandparent it is always so difficult to find good quality books to read to the kids, this is the first time in a long, long time that I am excited at the prospect of having books that we all can enjoy!

    Thank you!

  10. k city permalink
    August 30, 2010 12:09 am

    These sound amazing! Can’t wait to check them out. I like the idea of suggestive photographs that leave room for the imagination…

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