#InterviewByBook with Mary Anastasiou

imageTitle: I want to be a Rock Star
Author: Mary Anastasiou
Illustrator: Anil Tortop
Publisher: Lil’Rebel Books
Genre: Picture Book
Age Group: 5-10 years

Please tell us a bit of what your book is about.

‘I want to be a Rock Star’ is a discovery of the many genres of music through imagination and play.
Join Luke (and Ralphie) as they imagine their way through the magic of music. From country, rap and punk to disco, jazz and rock, you’ll discover that all little Rock Stars’ dreams begin with just a little imagination…

What kinds of themes / issues are raised in this story?

Music, in all of its forms, has always been really important to me. I want to be a Rock Star explores music beyond the common popular genres. It creates an opportunity for dialogue with parents where children can discover different musical styles to see which ones they enjoy most.

How are these important to you in raising awareness to your readers?

I felt that TV shows like Australian Idol and The Voice were churning out artists that seemingly had little (if any) musical knowledge.
I want to be a Rock Star gives kids an opportunity to think beyond the idea of fame. It encourages them to think outside the box, to play, to create, to explore and to ask themselves: “if I were to become a musician, what genre of music would I choose?”

Who or what inspired you to write this story?

I want to be a Rock Star is the first in a series of stories that were written just after my son Luke was born (he’s now 8). He’s known of their existence and heard me talk about the ‘idea of them’ his whole life. There came a point where I realised 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.

What is your favourite part of the book?

I love how the illustrations switch between dream sequences or imaginings into real-time play with household items creating music. Each scene really captures the essence of the specific genre in a fun and engaging way.

How would you describe the publishing process? Were they supportive? How long did it take?

The truth is, I was lucky. Once I’d finally made the decision to self publish– it was a case of finding someone who could illustrate for me. I found Anil (and Ozan) Tortop via an online writers and illustrators group. She answered my callout for and illustrator and pointed me in the direction of her website Tadaa Books.

From start to finish Anil held my hand, answered ALL my questions, guided me through the self publishing process and advised me in areas I had no idea about. In many ways she has been more than an just an illustrator to me – without them both this book would not exist, and certainly not in the short space of 6 months!

What was the collaboration like between author and illustrator? Juicy gossip, please!

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. She truly is an amazing illustrator to work with.

What has the feedback / audience response been like so far?

Response and feedback to I want to be a Rock Star has been fantastic so far – a strong social media and PR campaign has seen the book land in some pretty high profile hands with Dannii Minogue even tweeting about how much she and Ethan have loved it.

More than anything kids love following Luke play with music and find Ralphie the dog very naughty – often wondering what he’s up to next…

What teaching and learning ideas would you suggest to complement this book?

On Author visits I’ll often take in a box of household items that kids can use to create their own music or sounds with. As I read through the story I’ll produce something out of the box that the kids can play with. In most cases we end up with a very loud and excited group of little ones singing, banging pots, blowing (toilet roll) trumpets and generally having lots of fun. It’s a really fun and interactive experience.

Do you have a book trailer for your book? Please share.

Anil produced a very short progress animation of one of the illustrations which can be found here:

Any details on your book launch you’d like to tell us about?

At this stage there hasn’t been an ‘official’ book launch but we are planning one when the second book I want to be a Movie Star is ready mid June 2017.

Please let us know where we can find more on you and your book.

Currently the book is available to purchase via the Lil’Rebel website at: lilrebel.com.au or via Amazon.

A portion of the sale of all Lil’Rebel books go to supporting Australian Children’s Charity TLC for Kids.

Thank you for sharing I want to be a Rock Star with us, Mary!

Thank you for the opportunity Romi, your support and encouragement is much appreciated.

imageMary Anastasiou has been telling stories her whole life. From the outlandish and silly tales she told as a child growing up in Melbourne, Australia, to the response–driven marketing copy she delivers in her career as Creative Director at Imagine Creative. The arrival of her son Luke in 2008 inspired Mary to fulfil her lifelong dream of writing fun, inspiring, and motivating stories that made him “giggle ‘til his belly hurt.” She hopes her books inspire your little ones to do the same.

#InterviewByBook

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