Chicago writer and mom Monique Martin always wanted to write a children’s book. Then one day, her daughter made an observation that sent her on her way. Martin’s book, The Moon is Broken is out this week. The author spoke with Our Town about the book’s inspiration and her choice to self publish.
Our Town What inspired your book?
Monique Martin My daughter, Taylor. I was driving her home from a Girl Scouts Brownie meeting one evening and she looked up to the sky and said, “Look Mommy, the moon is broken!” I pulled my car over and began to write this story.
OT What was the book’s journey from idea to publication?
MM When I wrote this story, my daughter, Taylor, was about six years old. After I finished, I read it to her and she loved it. She also loved the fact that she was the star. My husband and I felt I should copyright it while I figured my next steps, however, distracted with all the day to day responsibilities of life, motherhood, work, etc., I put the project down, and copyrighting was as far as I got.
Fast forward a few years, my nephew, Brian, decided to attend college in Illinois and came to live with us. He’s a very talented artist from New Orleans. One day we were talking and I shared the story with him. I asked him if he would be interested in doing the illustrations for the book. I thought it would be a great project for us to work on together. Again, life for me and school for him came first and we never really got going.
Fast forward several years and now Taylor is 16 years old. The story makes another appearance. I know, crazy right? While on the computer searching for a document, I ran across the story. Ironically, that evening Taylor asked me, “Hey Mom what ever happened to that story?” I laughed and told her about the changes I had made earlier that day. She loved the changes and we both got a really good laugh at the coincidence. The next morning I was sitting in the coffee shop and my cell phone rang. It was my nephew calling to tell me he finally finished the illustrations for the book. The following day I was getting coffee again and I met a gentleman who owned a publishing company and I thought, “Ok Lord, I think you are telling me it’s time to do something with this story. From that day, I turned my story into an actual book.
OT What was most surprising about the process?
MM I quickly realized I wanted to maintain the integrity and have control of my work. So I decided to self publish. One of the most surprising parts of this process was how many people I encountered who either want to write or have written a book. I came across numerous folks while conducting business for the book or attempting to build a social media network for the book who were excited and extremely supportive of my own work. In fact, it was reassuring to receive such support because there were times I found myself discouraged with the length of time it took to bring my book to market. Nevertheless, the challenges of self-publishing were well worth it to hold in my hand the book I dreamed of producing.
OT What was it like to work with an illustrator to bring your ideas to life?
MM Working with Brian was a joy and pleasure! What made his work even more special was the way in which he personalized the illustrations. For example, the house in the book is actually my house and the bedroom furniture in the little girl’s room is Taylor’s furniture. I was overwhelmed by how his drawings brought the story to life. He did a fantastic job! It was a lot of work for both of us to get the story text and illustrations to work together in just the right way. Brian knew my vision and how dedicated I was to producing a high quality product and that is what you see in the book. His commitment to making this happen was there all the way to end.
OT What’s unique about your book?
MM One of the things that’s unique about the book is that the characters in the book are my family. Besides Taylor and me, our shih tzu Beignet, and my husband are also characters in the book. This project was truly a “family affair.” Even the editor of the book, Ericka Boston, is my niece.
OT How important is social media in self-publishing?
MM Social media has been invaluable in getting the word out. We have a nice following on Facebook and Twitter. In fact, I have enjoyed a few comments from followers who would like to see the book’s main characters, Taylor and Beignet, explore other life questions.
OT What advice do you have for others who want to write a children’s book?
MM If you have a story in you, get it on paper. Times have changed. Self publishing is accepted and has become a respected means of getting your work out there. Also, if self publishing is the route you take be sure to protect the integrity of your work from inception to the day it goes on sale. I believe the best advice for an aspiring children’s author is to follow your dream.
Order "The Moon is Broken" here.
A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for sites like Pop Matters and
afterellen.com Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," was called “poetic and heartrending” by ALA Booklist. Sarah is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
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