Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.
Recently, we interviewed Danielle Falk about her writing and her debut children’s picture book, What It Means to Be Me, an inspiring tale about individuality and self-worth. (Read the review here.)
Facebook: Danielle Falk Author
Danielle Dawn Falk was born and raised on Vancouver Island, in British Columbia, Canada, where she still resides with her husband and their two young children. Writing has always been one of her greatest passions.
Growing up, Danielle often struggled with feelings of being unaccepted, as well as not fitting in with her peers. When she became a mom seven and a half years ago, she made it one of her goals as a parent to help her children become confident, while at the same time, teaching them to show acceptance and compassion toward all others. She truly hopes that through her writing, she will inspire her own children, as well as many others, to do just that.
- How did you decide which form or genre was right for you?
I knew from a very young age that I wanted to write. When I was growing up, I experienced bullying, and struggled from terrible lack of self-esteem. I never had the confidence to truly be myself. Although I enjoyed writing and dreamed about publishing my work someday, I did not picture ever putting myself out there and trying to pursue those dreams.
Fast forward to when I became an adult, and very fortunately, I have been able to overcome many of the hardships I faced when I was younger. However, I have not forgotten the struggle I often felt, and I know that there are many kids out there going through what I once did (bullying, loneliness and low self-esteem). I decided that I wanted to take the more negative experiences in my life and turn them into something positive. Writing for kids about how to love and accept themselves seems like a great way to go about that.
- What are your favourite books?
I love to read absolutely anything and everything. I enjoy everything from children’s books, YA, fantasy, thrillers/horror, non-fiction… anything (although I do have a soft spot for children’s books in particular). Some of my favourite books include mostly anything by Judy Blume, and The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle, all of which I have read more than once.
- Do you find writing therapeutic?
Yes. I have always used writing as an outlet to express myself and to get my emotions out. I often do this in the form of writing poetry, and as it is something that I truly love and enjoy, I find it a great way to relax my thoughts.
- Who and what ultimately inspired you to become a writer?
When I was younger and going through a lot of tough times, I took those experiences and turned them into short stories, poems, and songs. I was so afraid to ever truly be myself, as I was always feeling judged and laughed at by my peers. I felt as though no one cared to ever get to really know me for who I was. Writing was a way for me to pour out my emotions and express everything I was feeling. Now as an adult, I write from past experiences, about what I have learned and what I would like to teach others.
- Does your family support your career as a writer?
I am a brand-new self-published author, and I am just starting what I only hope to be a successful career as a writer. My family has been very supportive. My parents knew when I was a kid how much I loved writing and encouraged me to do so as much as possible. I met my husband thirteen yeas ago, and he has been encouraging me the whole time to do something with my writing. He is the one who talked me into finally self-publishing my first book. He helped and inspired me so much along the way, and he had so much fun in doing so, that we got creative and started writing another children’s book together (which we hope to publish in the future!).
- Tell us some more about your book:
My book, “What It Means to Be Me” is a rhyming book for children, ages 3+ (although, it can really be enjoyed by anyone!). It aims to take readers on an inspiring journey of self-discovery, and is meant to encourage kids to lovingly embrace, accept and celebrate their own true selves. It is not a narrative story with any real characters. Instead, it is features children who may look “different” from one another but gives the sense to whoever is reading the book that they can see themselves within the pages and relate to the messages the book is trying to portray.
- Tell us a little about how this story first came to be. Did it start with an image, a voice, a concept, a dilemma or something else?
As I already explained, I was bullied in my youth. When I grew up, I knew I wanted to write for children, and taking my past experiences and turning them into a positive, feel-good book for little ones felt like the direction I wanted to take. I know there are many children who struggle with self-esteem issues, and I wanted to write something to help them realize their potential and embrace their own true selves.
8, What do you hope readers will take away from this story?
I truly hope that readers (children, as well as the adults in their lives) will find What It Means to Be Me to be inspiring and encouraging in a way that helps them realize that no matter who they are, they are free to be exactly who they are meant to be. I want children to be able to see themselves in the book, and feel good about being who they are.
- What makes this book important right now?
No matter how we far we have come, and how hard we try, bullying is still sadly still with us. In our society today, we try our best to be inclusive and accepting of all others, and we have come a long way from where we once were, but like I said, bullying has not gone away. I feel like my book is very important in today’s world, as it is a good starting guide for little ones as they enter school and other social situations. Children will face adversity and find themselves in certain situations where they feel uncomfortable or as if they don’t fit in as they travel through life. I wrote What It Means to Be Me to try and start kids young with instilling confidence and knowing that it is absolutely OK to be their own true selves.
- How did you decide on this title?
I knew I had an idea for the type of story I wanted to write. I love to rhyme, and usually when I write, I build my stories around words that rhyme and work well together. I brainstormed one day about what it really means to be myself. I took those ideas and pieced them together in a poem and at the end of the poem, I had written “this is what it means to be ME!”. I loved the sound of it and as I polished up my first draft, I knew that “What It Means to Be Me” was the perfect title.
- How many rewrites did you do for this book?
Once I complete my first draft, I knew I had something I could work with and use. I didn’t do any rewrites, but I changed multiple words to fit the flow of the rhymes. I wanted to make sure everything made sense in a way for children to understand.
- What’s next for you?
It has always been my dream to write. I hope that my first book touches enough lives and inspires many readers. My husband and I have so many ideas for more children’s books, and we have already teamed up together to start writing one together, and we hope to soon publish it. I would love to continue writing books for children with positive messages.
Categories: BookView Review Interview