Robert’s interest in writing seems to be lifelong, showing up as a school student, but like me, when he had kids he fell in love with children’s books, especially picture books. He’s been writing now for over 5 years and in that time has published several short stories in various anthologies and four picture books , with more on the way. He’s totally soaring! He’s excited that his latest release, Jack and Mia with Wombat Books has just been placed on the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge and he has just announced his next two books on their way this year – Eric Finds a Way and Ella Saw The Tree. I keep ‘bumping into’ Robert in cyberspace where he has a gracious, helpful and self-effacing presence. I hope to meet Robert in real life one day! It’s a delight to welcome Robert Vescio to the JWFK blog.
Robert, falling in love with books and reading them to your kids is very different from wanting to write them – do you remember what propelled you to start to write for kids?
I have spent most of my working years in the publishing industry as a Production Manager and as a Photo Editor at Studio Magazines. I worked on many titles but it was Studio Bambini magazine that really propelled me to start writing for kids. It was like being a kid in a candy shop, except picture books were one of the main attractions. I started sampling the candy. And, it was delicious! So my love affair with picture books grew from strength to strength. And the rest is history.
What things have you found beneficial to help develop and encourage the craft of writing?
I’ve come across a lot of people who tell me that anyone can write a children’s book. After all, they’re just kids. But we all know that isn’t true. Kids are not silly. They really do care about what they read. And no publisher will acquire rubbish. Publishers have to be extremely careful with what they publish because, at the end of the day, kids are smart … and picky.
I have found, in my travels, as a writer that it’s important to write about something that will excite kids. Every spread must be a page turner filled with fun and surprise.
It’s not easy to tell a story in under 500 words so every word counts. You must leave room for the illustrator to interpret the story. Remember, this is a marriage of words and pictures.
Kids don’t like to be lectured. Keep it fun but with an underlying message that isn’t preachy.
Also, it’s important to read current picture books. Examine them and see how the words and pictures work together.
Writing is hard work. Learning to write can be broken down into three main parts: research, read a lot and write a lot. There are no shortcuts. You must have a passion for reading, an addiction for words and a love of language. If you love writing, you’ll enjoy the process of creating. It all begins with your imagination and ends in your reader’s.
Robert, your books all contain important messages wrapped up in a great story. What can we expect of the new ones you have just announced – are they similar?
I write stories that help children cope with changes in their lives and to better understand their world and relationships.
Ella Saw The Tree is a story about mindfulness. Ella’s backyard is full of exciting things to do. One windy day, as Ella is swinging, she is showered by leaves. When she looks up, Ella sees a tree in her backyard … has it always been there? And why is it crying? It’s not until Ella carefully and attentively takes the time to – smell, listen, feel and look – that she discovers the tree in her backyard, as if for the very first time. By slowing down and experiencing new sensations, Ella learns to appreciate the simple things in life.
As children get older, they are bombarded with so many distractions in life i.e. television and video games that it can be difficult for them to focus. We often tell our children to ‘pay attention’ but we don’t often teach children HOW to pay attention. This story does that in a fun way. By taking information from all their senses, children are able to explore as they learn about their world. Mindfulness can increase happiness in a child’s life. I’m happy to say that you can now pre-order at Big Sky Publishing.
Eric Finds A Way is a story with a strong message to children about the various ways in which art can be defined. Eric loves to read. He has a towering bookshelf brimming with wonderful stories. Eric desperately wants to find a way to get to these magical places but his drawings and stories are nothing like his books at all. But after many failed attempts Eric understands that the art he creates is what matters.
The story will teach children not too worry about drawing the perfect picture or spelling every word perfectly. It will help children to find a way to express themselves, even reluctant artists who do not show any interest in creating art. The story will make children feel good about themselves and give them a sense of confidence. Pre-order is now available at Wombat Books.
What do you consider the most helpful things that encouraged you to write and made you a better writer?
Competitions and anthologies have been very helpful in shaping my career as a writer. I wouldn’t be in the position that I’m in now had I not plucked the courage and submitted my work to these events.
We’ll find out more about the things that have helped Robert on his way to soaring success in the next installment on the 3rd of March. In the meantime, you can visit Robert at his website here and Facebook page at www.facebook.com/RobertVescioAuthor
And me at my website here.