[Interview] Children’s author and illustrator, Sally H. Taylor


Sally H. TaylorSally H. Taylor made her debut as a children’s author and illustrator with the publication of The Magic in You (Outskirts Press, 2007), a 40-page book which aims to teach children and adults, alike, that we need to forgive and love ourselves if we are to live healthy, fulfilled lives.In a recent interview, she spoke about her writing.

What are your main concerns as a writer?

I have developed a lot of ideas for children’s stories over the years. They are still in my head. With the pressures of a full time job and such, it’s hard to find the quiet time to craft a story that comes together well. However, I am working on that one.

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

After a hard road of recovering from an abusive marriage, I found that my writing and my art work was not only an aid to my healing process, but a way of reaching past myself and offering hope to other wounded hearts.

An abusive relationship can damage your soul so severely that you begin to second guess everything you do. You can’t bear to make a mistake, because it is a painful reminder of what you really think about yourself, a big mistake. There was so much negativity in my life I actually believed that I deserved the abuse. I think I always knew what I needed to do, but wasn’t strong enough to do it. Through the care and kindness of others I found value and purpose again. My experiences have taught me that a heart of chivalry is created by learning from your mistakes, instead of wallowing in them. That’s the message!

At present most of my writing is geared to preschoolers, which offers a means of incorporating my illustrating talents. The agent who was marketing my pen & ink and watercolors, always told me that I had a knack for integrating rhythm and movement into my work and suggested I try to illustrate and write children’s books.

What would you say are the biggest challenges that you face?

If we don’t guard ourselves against negativity it can find a way to get the best of us. The biggest challenge in writing for me is just keeping focused through all of the smaller ones. The biggest challenge in my life is still accepting myself just as I am, with all of my flaws and failures.

How do you deal with these challenges?

Keeping focused on my writing is just reminding myself that we all have a story worth telling. Dealing with my failures comes in knowing that I have a Creator who loves me in spite of myself!

Who would you say has influenced you the most?

As a child I spent many summers with my Aunt who always encouraged my creativity. She was an extremely gifted and talented person.

Do you write every day?

I wish I had the time to write every day, but I don’t. Most of the time I have to schedule my writing time on my calendar along with so many other things that I either want to or need to accomplish.

I have written several [books], but The Magic in You (Outskirts Press, 2007) is my first published book. The book is about a little flower who gets pushed from her comfort zone. Although her circumstances are less than ideal, she learns that she has the power to influence other living creatures around her through kindness, love and, most of all, forgiveness.

How long did it take you to write this book?

I actually started it over 15 years ago and got frustrated because I could not find a publisher. Last year I took it out of the basement and started to read it again, and thought, “Boy ,this story seems kind of shallow.” I think that was because 15 years ago I was probably that shallow. Because I’ve grown since then I was able to make some changes to the illustrations and the story line.

How did you choose a publisher for The Magic in You?

Looking for a publisher can be a gruesome experience and I have learned that just because you are rejected doesn’t mean your book is not good. It just means that your work does not fit into the theme that particular publishers are marketing. So I tried several self publishing companies and decided to go with Outskirts Press. They were very helpful and flexible enough to help me publish my book the way I wanted it to look.

The first book was a learning process. I decided to prepare the print ready file myself because I did not want to send out my original illustrations. Outskirts Press was very helpful and gave us step by step instructions to create the file. My husband (that’s my second husband of whom I’ve been married to for 18 years) was a tremendous help as well. I am not really a technical person, so he created the PDF file for me.

Mostly, I enjoyed creating the illustrations. If you were around you would have heard my snickers as I was creating the scenes. Some of them are quite comical.

What sets The Magic in You apart from the other things you have written?

In many ways the book is my biography. The healing process of this damaged little flower is not just her story, but it’s my story too.

In what way is it similar?

I have tried to set a theme of a heart of chivalry to my writing, and I think this fits right in.

What will you next book be about?

I am working on my next book now. The name of the book is The Most Valuable Treasure. It is about a small village of people who go out of their way to care for each other. They also go out of their way to avoid one rickety old house on the outskirts of the village. Rumors of witches and goblins have kept the villagers at a distance for years. As the story unfolds, however, the villagers learn that things are not always as they appear, and perhaps they could have been a little more gracious than they thought themselves to be.

What do you think is your most significant achievement as a writer?

When I see adults break down in tears as they read The Magic in You, I know my message of forgiveness and grace has touched their hearts. That’s the real achievement!

How did you get there?

A lifetime of learning to love myself.

This article was first published by OhmyNews International.

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