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Kate McGann‘s The Glint of Gold originated from places of love, heart, wonder and wellbeing. Today, Kate shares her inspirations and motivations to maintaining a positive mindset, and what she hopes young readers will embrace with their reading of her empowering book.
Kate, congratulations on the release of your beautiful picture book, The Glint of Gold!
Can you briefly tell us about how this story came about?
The Glint of Gold grew from my early years of motherhood and the opportunity they gave me to slow down to the pace of a small child. This was on the back of having studied a health science degree with a focus on holistic wellbeing. I was interested in the impact this slowing and noticing had on the happiness of my children and myself.
During their primary school years, I observed some young people getting caught up in all the things that were going wrong in their day while missing the small pleasures around them. That seemed such a departure from the wonder of those early years! Some talked in absolutes and didn’t appear to give the same weight to the positives as they did the negatives. I wanted to create a language and encourage an active practice that might help children recognise the nuances of their day. That there are often little things happening that can sustain us even if there are also difficulties.
The book is a touching tale that highlights the beauty of nature and the wonder in the small things in life, covering themes of mindfulness, hope, and gratitude. What other ideas did you aim to elicit to readers through your story?
Apart from helping children re-frame things, I also wanted to introduce the idea of contributing to the wellbeing of others. I wanted to gently suggest that it’s not just about receiving glints of gold in our lives but being one for other people also. To me, this idea of contribution is also related to a healthy sense of self worth.
Patricia Ward’s illustrations are delicate, mesmerising, and absolutely shine from the pages. What do you like about the way she has portrayed your story? Did you collaborate throughout the process?
Where do I start? I love that Patricia embraced the Australian landscape in her illustrations. I think she did a beautiful job of capturing the warmth between characters and her love of animals also shone through! She has a lovely gift for detail and uses a rich colour palette.
I was lucky enough to be asked to give feedback on Patricia’s work throughout the whole process. We communicated through our publisher, Little Pink Dog Books. I found Patricia very open and generous to work with. I’m so grateful for all the effort she put into our book. Illustrators are extraordinary!
The Glint of Gold is your debut picture book! Tell us a bit about your publication journey.
I started off by studying a picture book writing course with the Australian Writers’ Centre. The themes of this story had been in my mind for a number of years but I wanted to improve my understanding of the genre and how to present my piece. Afterwards, I worked on the manuscript and waited for a submission window – these can be scarce for unsolicited manuscripts! Little Pink Dog Books opened for just one day and I was aware that they support emerging writers so I submitted my story. I found out four months later that it had been accepted for publication. That was a wonderful moment!
What does ‘mindfulness’ mean to you? In what ways has this helped you overcome challenges you have faced?
To me, mindfulness means awareness. Awareness of what is happening both within me and without. Inwardly, this includes my own bodily awareness but also my emotional awareness which can be tricky to acknowledge in the moment, depending on the emotion! Practicing mindfulness towards my body means I’m more likely to make choices that support my wellbeing and therefore support me in living my life. Outwardly, I try to notice the world around me through all my senses. Being aware of these things means that even on a difficult day, I can usually find things to be grateful for. It also helps me catch myself out if my emotional state is becoming black and white and not helping the situation!
I also try to give as much weight to the small golden moments as I do to the harder ones. I think we are wired to remember the negatives as a survival strategy, but I believe consciously noting the simple beauties can equally be a survival mechanism.
What has been the most rewarding part of writing and/or publishing this story?
By far the most rewarding thing has been receiving feedback from readers who have felt supported by my story. I’ve had lovely comments from people of all ages – from young children through to 90+ year olds! I think The Glint of Gold has struck a chord during these difficult COVID times. I could not have predicted the current state of the world when I wrote it nearly four years ago, but I’m very grateful that it is supporting readers at this time.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Everyday life is full of inspiration! I’m often moved to write from a chance meeting, a turn of phrase, or the observation of a struggle within a child or an adult. Nature always inspires me, as does observing interactions between people of all ages. It’s very important to me to have cross-generational friendships. They deepen my understanding of human nature and challenge my perspectives. I don’t know where I’d be without those inspiring relationships!
What’s next for you? Any projects you’re currently working on?
I haven’t had much time for my own writing over these COVID years but have recently made some adjustments to give it more attention. I’m interested in narrative non-fiction in picture books, so I have a couple of ideas I’m exploring there. I’m also playing around with another wellbeing themed book that’s been in my head and heart for a few years. I haven’t quite worked out how to write my way into that one yet. I’m hoping that having more headspace over the coming months will reveal a plan!
Thanks so much for answering our questions, Kate! 😊
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