Author Interview Series (9): Zara Johnston
Our 9th author interview is with Zara Johnston, a military wife and mother of three young children. Her first book, 'Moving: Teddy's Journey', about the struggles of a military child, was recently published. April is the month of the Military Child, so I am very excited to share this interview with you all!
Hi, Zara! Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit more about yourself?
Z: Hello, I’m Zara. I live in the U.K. with my husband and our 3 young children, we are a military family, so have been fortunate enough to live all over the country. I enjoy heading out to the beach and going on bike rides through the countryside.
What inspired and motivated you to write your first book and how long did it take from the initial idea to publishing?
Z: My children are my biggest inspiration for writing my book. After seeing them struggle with moving house and schools so many times, I decided to write stories for them to help support and give them something tangible to resonate with. These stories really helped them to process their feelings and allow them to recognise that they weren’t alone during these challenging situations.
What are some of the challenges you have encountered on your author and self-publishing journey? How did you overcome them?
Z: One of my biggest challenges was the title of the book. When I first started out, my book was called something completely different but during the illustration process as the story came to life, the title seemed wrong for this particular book. I spent many sleepless nights going backwards and forwards over potential titles bouncing my ideas off anyone who would listen. I actually found writing the book easier than finding the title.
A good title is hard to find! Titles are really important too.
What has been the most rewarding experience since publishing your first book?
Z: The most rewarding experience has been having so many families get in touch with me to tell me how my book has helped their little ones who are starting a new school or moving house soon. It honestly fills my heart to know that my story not only helps my own children but I’m now also supporting many other children worldwide.
That is really lovely! Seeing how your book has helped and touch other families is a wonderful thing!
What is something you wish someone had told you about self-publishing before you started?
Z: I completely underestimated how much time and effort goes in to self publishing. I naively thought that I wrote the book and that’s the hardest part done - I was so wrong! With self-publishing the learning journey never stops, the marketing aspect is huge but that said, it really is such a fun, often mind-blowing experience, so it’s definitely worth it.
It's not at all what you think it is! I feel the same way!
Have you had any negative experiences or disappointing moments throughout your publishing journey? How did you handle them?
Z: I was so incredibly excited to receive my first hard copies of the book but it didn’t turn out to be the happy champagne moment I had imagined. Unfortunately the books had arrived with serious printing issues and faulty binding. Fortunately the printing company were great at communicating with me to resolve this issue and replaced all of the faulty books quite swiftly.
Oh, that must have been such a nightmare! Glad it got resolved in the end!
What advice would you give to other aspiring writers or authors?
Z: When you are first starting out, things can easily feel overwhelming, it’s quite normal for self-doubt to creep in. There is so much to learn but don’t lose sight of why you are doing it. Prioritise your goals into small manageable chunks and go for it! I haven’t met another author (yet) who hasn’t felt out of their depth at some point during their self-publishing journey.
That is very true! We are all still learning and it never ends!
Finish the following sentence: If I had never published my book, I wouldn’t...
Z: ... have met so many amazingly talented authors living all over the world.
Self-publishing can be a lonely journey so it’s important to have a good network of support around you. I don’t think this gets mentioned enough but surrounding yourself with other like-minded people, who you can bounce ideas off, learn from and go through the process with, really is invaluable.
I whole-heartedly agree!
Can you tell us a bit more about your book? Z:'Moving: Teddy’s Journey' is a heart-warming rhyming story taking readers on a journey of hope, resilience and positivity whilst tackling the real life challenges that children face when moving. Also, April is the international month of the Military Child but did you know, the DANDELION is the official flower of the Military Child because they are both resilient and can put down roots almost anywhere. CHANGE can be so difficult for children. Thank you so much for sharing about yourself and your book with us!
Check out the video for a sneak peek of the book!
Find her book here: Moving: Teddy's Journey on Amazon
Learn more about Zara: Website
Hope you've enjoyed reading this author interview. What did you find most interesting? What other questions would you like to ask a children's book author? Leave a comment below!
If you are a children's book author and interested in participating in my author interview blog series, feel free to get in touch!
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