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I had the pleasure of sitting down with Jessica Ferrarotto 😊, she is a teacher 🍎and single mom with a lifelong dream to become a writer 📝 and has made good on that dream through hard work and inspiration from her amazing daughter Madeline 👧.
Tell us a little something about yourself:
My name is Jessica Ferrarotto, and this is my very first children’s book! I am a single mother to an amazing nine year old daughter, who inspires me everyday to be the best version of myself. We live in Ottawa, with our two year old cockapoo pup, named Buddy. I am a Grade 2 teacher, and absolutely love my job! I love being a part of my students’ learning experience, and find so much joy in their curiosity and enthusiasm for learning new things. I am the happiest when I’m outside - even happier in hot temperatures near the water! I adore my friends and family with a passion; love yoga and meditating; enjoy travelling and visiting new places, and could listen to the oldies and classic rock music forever!
Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. Ever since I was a kid, I was writing stories, and can remember typing up chapter books I was writing on our very first computer - a Tandy 1000 💻! As I got older I also enjoyed writing poems, journaling, and even wanted to go to university to become a journalist for a while. I decided to Major in Psychology 🎓 when I went to school, but did a Minor in English because I wanted to have my passion for reading and writing nurtured as well.
Q: How long did it take you to write your first book?
It took me about a month from when I first started - to organize my thoughts and ideas, and write the book. This part of the process definitely came easier for me than finding an illustrator and a publisher - that was where the obstacles lay for me in this journey. 📚
Q: What was your inspiration for writing your children's book I Would Never...?
My inspiration for this book was my daughter, Madeleine. She was only three at the time, and I was tucking her into bed one night. She was trying to prolong the process, as children sometimes - well, usually do! She was telling me how much she loved me and coming up with all of these outrageous things that she would never do to me, because she loved me so much! After we laughed for a bit, I insisted that she quit the comedy act and get to sleep, and I lied there with her until she did. As I was lying beside her, I was thinking about all of these silly things she had said and my mind was picturing them as illustrations in a children’s book. I immediately started writing them down, so that I wouldn’t forget them, and it was in those tender, bedtime moments that my book was born!
Q: What is "I Would Never...", all about?
“I Would Never…” is an outrageous and fantastical story that I believe will appeal to both children and parents. At bedtime, Maddy is trying to prolong her tuck-in, so she starts telling her mom all of the crazy things she would never do to her, because she loves her so much! Maddy takes the reader on a wild ride through her imagination, as she assures her mom that she would never throw her up in a palm tree, let a tornado take her away, and more. It’s a silly an heart-warming picture book about all of the things that love would make a child never do!
Q: How difficult was it getting the book published?
This was definitely a lengthy process - one that required lots of patience and persistence on my part! It took years of sending out query letters and my manuscript to literary agents and publishers - and getting a lot of rejection letters in return. To be honest though, every rejection letter that I received had a positive, kind, or constructive message in it, and I looked at each one as proof and validation that I was, in fact, an author! This drove me to keep going and working at it until I got it published.
Q: How did you select your illustrator? Was it difficult to find an illustrator?
I was actually paired with my illustrator by my publisher. Her name is Sanghamitra Dasgupta, and she sent me a couple of illustrations to see if her style and my vision for the book were similar. I was immediately happy with what she sent me, and we got to work! This only happened when I found the publisher though. I had spent years before this, trying to find an illustrator to take on this project with me. I ended up coming into contact with many very talented illustrators, who wanted to be a part of my project as a side job, but didn’t end up having the time to commit to seeing it through to completion with me. The first, and most influential, illustrator that I worked with was Allison Rutland of Pixar Animation Studios. We were connected by a family member, and her interest in my project was the hugest validation I could’ve received, in order to motivate me to see this dream of mine become a reality! The confidence boost it gave me, along with her expertise of animation and all the advice she shared with me about children’s books while we worked together, helped get me - and my book - to the place we are today!
Q: What did you learn when writing this book?
I learned so much from writing and getting my first book published. I was very lucky to have a very good friend of mine, Allison Van Diepen, who is also a published author, mentor me through the entire process. Her knowledge and experience has been invaluable to me! Learning how to approach literary agents, write query letters, what to look for in contracts, and how to get your book out there, have been just a few of the areas she’s helped me out in. This process has taught me to be patient, not to take no for an answer, and to keep working until your goal is reached.
Q: What advice would you give for anyone wanting to write their first book?
My advice - as cliche as it sounds - to anyone wanting to write their first book, is to not give up! Everyone gets doors slammed in their face and encounters obstacles. That, coupled with the little voice in all of our heads that tells us that we can’t do it, or that nobody is going to be interested in our project, makes writing and publishing your own ideas seem impossible. It’s not! Stay the course, work hard, and believe that your unique and beautiful ideas have a place in this world!