Friday, September 13, 2013

Inside the Writer's Mind - Interview with Fiona McGlynn and Review of i and the Great Divide

Normally, I share Inside the Writer's Mind interviews on Wednesdays but being that I can share an interview whenever, :-), I decided to share this one.

When I got the request to review i and the Great Divide I decided to go ahead and offer an interview plus do a mini review, of sorts.

Info on the book:

I and the Great Divide” is an illustrated children’s book, designed to leave kids in divorce feeling loved, peaceful, and self-expressed

In a world where alphabet letters are people, word families can go through big changes just like human families can.

The letter "i" experiences this one day when her parents, "t" and "n" start to fight. "i" gets into all kinds of trouble as she tries to make things go back to the way they were. Just when things can't get worse, she experiences a transformation that leaves her feeling loved, happy and grateful for her family (and the changes too!)

The book has received great feedback from across North America.

"We all are capable of making a difference in the life of a child… 'I and the Great Divide' … takes this truth into the challenges a child may face with the separation of parents. [A situation] that needs to be handled with this level of care, sensitivity and understanding. Well done."
Fred Penner, Family Entertainer

Author, Fiona McGlynn wrote the book with her own parent’s divorce in mind. “As a child, I blamed myself for what was going on between my parents. I wrote “i and the Great Divide” to help kids feel loved and to create an open family discussion on divorce.”

Welcome, Fiona, to Inside the Writer's Mind.  I'll be asking you some questions, sort of picking your brain a little bit to get to know you as an author. Thank you for joining me. Ready? 

Same DiNamics: Writing can be a daunting prospect, what made you decide to share your story with the world? 

Fiona McGlynn: About a year ago I received two wonderful pieces of advice on living passionately that inspired me to write “i and the Great Divide”. A mentor of mine said, “If you want to be passionate in life then look at the greatest obstacle you’ve overcome and help the next generation overcome it”. I thought about my internal struggle with parents’ divorce as a kid and decided that was something I could help other kids overcome. The other piece of advice was from my boyfriend. He suggested that I start doing all of the things I loved most as a child. One of these things happened to be writing so I decided to write a book for kids on divorce.

SD: Who has influenced you as an author? 

FMc: The greatest influencers on my writing are kids. We took rough drafts of “i and the Great Divide” into several schools and the kids co-created the story with us, helping to shape the message and illustrations.

SD: Can you share how you came up with the concept of using letters to share the story? 

FMc: I chose alphabet letters because I was looking for characters that existed both individually and in groups (like families). I was up North playing Boggle with Robin’s family one morning and the idea popped into my head. I later chose the letter “I” as the main character to help kids personally identify while reading the story.

SD: How long did it take you to write your story, from getting it down on paper to illustrating it and getting it published? 

FMc: From start to finish it was a six-month process. I wrote the first draft in a day and then revised it with teachers, parents, and kids for five months. Robin was illustrating for five months, adapting to incorporate the kid’s feedback. The last month was mostly getting the word out there.

SD: Why should I read it? 

FMc: I think this is a relevant topic for all families (divorced or not). Families in divorce should read “i and the Great Divide” to start a conversation about divorce. It’s very common for kids to internalize a lot of what’s going on around them and this creates a negative internal dialogues “my family is broken”, “I’m not good enough”, etc. Having family conversations about divorce can do wonders to undo these kinds of thoughts. I also think it’s a great read for families who are not in divorce as it gives kids insight into the changing family situations of other children they may know.

SD: How much of yourself is in your character(s)?

FMc: Quite a bit! I based the character of the child going through divorce on my experiences/emotions as a child with my own parents’ divorce.

SD: What advice would you give to someone who has a story that needs to be shared?  

FMc: My advice is that they get it out there as soon as possible. Even if their topic is something that’s very well covered you just never know how one individual’s voice can make a difference in someone else’s life. For example, assume you write a children’s book on the virtue of sharing. There may be a lot of books on this but your voice could make the difference for one child where no other voice could. 

SD: Is there anything else that you'd like to share? 

FMc: Nope – great questions!

~End Interview~

I had an opportunity to read i and the Great Divide, I love how Fiona uses letters as characters. Letters make up words in many different ways. The thought of using one letter, such as "i", in many different ways can help to bring across the message that families are made up of different characteristics and traits. Families are those who love us, help us and make us better individuals. 

As a child, my mother and father were never married but not together either, so yes, I did grow up in a single parent home. While I didn't blame myself for that, it was what I knew, there were times that I wished both my parents lived together. i and the Great Divide teaches children that is not their fault why their mommies and daddies are no longer married. Most importantly, it teaches parents to always remember to show that love and compassion they have for their children each and everyday. Listen to your children, cue in on behaviors displayed and keep an open communication all the time. 

I would certainly recommend this story to everyone. Like Fiona said, even children whose parents aren't divorced should be exposed to this story. It teaches them that families come in all different shapes and sizes. 

About the author and illustrator:

Fiona McGlynn

Fiona grew up on the West Coast with a love of stories. Like i, Fiona's family changed when she was young. Fiona found this hard at the time but later realized that it had all worked out for the best. She wrote "i and the Great Divide" to help others with changing families. Fiona loves to play ukulele, climb rocks, sail boats, and curl up with a good cup of tea and a book.

Robin Urquhart

Robin was born and raised in Canada’s great white North.  His father, a well-known Northern cartoonist, instilled in him a love for bringing stories to life through pictures.  In addition to drawing, he loves animals, climbing and playing music. Robin lives in an igloo (not true) and takes a dogsled to school everyday (also not true).

Social Media links and buy link:
Book Website:
Facebook Page:
Google+ Page:
You can purchase the book on Amazon.

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