With school starting in many states, it’s not too late to start building your school or home library for the new school year. Charlotte Safieh has written a picture book called “A Cry for the Ocean” to help create awareness and support to clean the plastic littering our oceans.
Charlotte lives in Toronto, Canada with her family. She has been in the teaching profession for many years and specializes in teaching creative writing. She is celebrating her first published book. Charlotte has also started her own imprint called Blue Jay Press to help support new authors with stories needing to be told.
I had a chance to ask Charlotte about her childhood reading memories, favorite authors and impact that writing has had and the influences she hopes to accomplish.
- What is your favorite memory from reading as a child?
Charlotte Safieh: My favourite memory from reading as a child was reading Gerald Durrell and following his adventures collecting exotic animals from exciting far away countries. Something that would not be allowed anymore! I recently learned that he was very influential in changing how we manage zoos, so that instead of simply being a source of entertainment we are protecting endangered species and learning more about their natural environment and behaviour.
- Who was your favorite author and how did they influence you?
Charlotte Safieh: My favourite writer for children is Roald Dahl. He is very entertaining and irreverent with such a unique imagination. I also love Barbara Kingsolver, and I’m just reading her new book “Unsheltered” which is a remarkable story that can tell us so much about our current time and the challenges we face with our poor treatment of the natural environment.
- Do you have a writing routine? Share what works for you.
Charlotte Safieh: I need to be accountable with my writing and love doing courses and being a part of a writing group. I love sharing ideas and talking over writing with fellow writers.
- What subjects would you like to write about in future projects?
Charlotte Safieh: I would like to continue to write stories about the natural world to help children to understand how important it is to protect nature and wildlife. Maybe Sukara can go on to do more great things in the future!
- What is storyquest.com, and how did it influence you to become a writer?
Charlotte Safieh: Storyquest is a creative writing project that I have been running for several years. After I qualified as a teacher I began working in classrooms with students teaching them how to write stories and putting their stories together as published chapter books. This has been very enjoyable and rewarding, and I have seen hundreds of students write incredibly exciting, imaginative and powerful stories. I feel very lucky to have done this work, as I see how much they enjoy writing the stories, and I love creating a space to allow that to happen.
- What other environmental issues would you like to address in future books?
Charlotte Safieh: I would love to write more about protecting nature, and have been considering a story set in the rainforest, as we are losing our forests so rapidly. I would also like to write about the kids 4 climate movement, as I have been very excited to see that grow in the last year. I am a really big fan of Greta Thunberg and have been following her journey across the Atlantic on a yacht this week.
- Why did you start your own independent publishing company, Blue Jay Press?
Charlotte Safieh: I started Blue Jay Press because I love publishing books. It is a true passion, and although this is the first book I have authored I have published over 400 children authored chapter books. I hope to continue to grow Blue Jay Press with books by other authors as well as more of my books.
- What advice do you have for aspiring writers who are interested in self-publishing?
Charlotte Safieh: I would say go for it. The self-publishing industry has grown exponentially. Now it is very achievable for anyone who has a story they are passionate about to self-publish. I used Kickstarter very successfully to fund the first set of books and my wonderful illustrator Tamara Piper, who I found on Fiverr. Self publishing makes up a significant proportion of sales of books, especially ebooks.
- For our younger authors, what can they work on now to help them become better writers?
Charlotte Safieh: When I teach creative writing I work a lot on encouraging children to be confident in their writing, and to ignore the critical voice in their head that can stop them from enjoying writing. When they are getting ideas down I also tell then not to worry about spelling or grammar so they can let their imagination flow.
- What is writing to you in one sentence?
Charlotte Safieh: Writing is sharing our inner worlds, our lives, ideas and connecting with each other.
“A Cry for the Ocean” is a picture book that brings forward the cause of helping clear our oceans of plastic pollution. Sukara meets a mermaid and learns about the plastic pollution in the ocean and finds a magical way to save it. It will bring awareness to the plight of our oceans and be a great addition to any school or home library. It will be a wonderful teaching tool for ocean and environmental units. Teaching resources accompany the book to help teachers and parents.
“A Cry for the Ocean” is available at Amazon.com.
For more information on Charlotte Safieh’s new book “A Cry for the Ocean” and free resources, lesson ideas, activities, and to order wholesale books, please visit her website at: https://www.bluejaypress.ca/.