VS: I want to thank you for being my guest here on The Writing Mama today. To get this started, Christy can you share what do you do to help balance your writing life with your family life?
Christy: I wrote this book when my children were sleeping. I do most of work after-hours, so I can spend most of my personal time with them.
VS: How long have you been writing?
Christy: I’ve always enjoyed writing, since high school. But this is the first children’s book I’ve published.
VS: What inspired you to write your book (if this is a personal story about you, please share about the decision to open up about your life)?
Christy: I was inspired by my son, Beckmin, who was diagnosed with celiac disease at age 18 months. Watching him grow up – how he’s had to explain his disease to other kids and parents; how he has to make very adult decisions all day, every day – led me to write this book. I’m hoping it’s a tool that will help him, and others, easy explain what celiac disease is and how someone with it has to cope.
VS: This must have been hard for you and your family at first, but I’m glad you found a great way to share this awareness with those around you and turn what some might consider a hardship into a wonderful experience in your family. Okay, so know that we know you what inspired you, what is a typical writing day like for you?
Christy: As a full-time working Mom of three boys under the age of 5, there is no typical day! I work in personal/writing time when and where I can.
VS: Is your family supportive of your writing?
Christy: My husband is extremely supportive of all that I do – and my kids were involved in reading drafts of this book.
VS: That’s wonderful the whole family is involved in your writing projects. I wish I could say the same for my own family. Now, this is your first book publication, but what was the first thing you ever had published?
Christy: I had a number of papers published in professional journals, but nothing was as fun as this project.
VS: Can you share with us a little about your current picture book?
Christy: “Beckmin goes to School” is meant to raise awareness for celiac disease and the everyday challenges children with celiac disease face in their otherwise normal activities. As diagnosis of celiac disease increases, education, awareness, and understanding will be the keys to making celiac kids feel normal and included. This book is written for children to help them express and understand celiac disease. Beckmin’s stories, written to help children define, understand, and explain celiac disease, are meant to be both empowering and educational for kids and their parents.
VS: What did you find to be the most challenging part of writing your book?
Christy: I wanted to write it from a child’s perspective, to really understand the decisions Beckmin has to make – I had to try to put myself in his shoes and think about his typical day.
VS: What part of your book do you feel really stands out to you personally?
Christy: Personally, I like that he feels “special.” That word has a lot of connotations – both good and bad – and this disease has both. But I like that he positions feeling “different” as feeling “special.”
VS: I think you did a great job of that personally after reading the book myself. Now this is a work of fiction, what character is most like you?
Christy: It is fiction, but it’s obviously modeled after my son and not me in anyway.
VS: What event do you feel was the turning point to your story?
Christy: The turning point in the story really stemmed from a turning point in his disease when I was able to step back one day and realize that he’s going to be OK; he can handle this. As a Mom, that was a relief for me.
VS: Do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them?
Christy: Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune condition, and the only treatment is a lifelong adherence to a strict gluten-free diet and lifestyle. So, I could see more books in the works as Beckmin grows up with this disease, and approaches new challenges and different decisions.
VS: What tips can you give writing parents with children at home to help them see publication?
Christy: Don’t give up! Your children’s book will be a wonderful legacy for you and your child.
VS: What do you think are the basic ingredients of a good book?
Christy: I think the best ingredient for a good book is a passion for the story and characters. The second basic ingredient is the cause. In this case, I wrote about my son and his condition, making it both personal and purposeful.
VS: What do you feel as parents we need to do to help our children see success?
Christy: As parents, we all try our best to give our kids a positive way to look at the world. In this book, some of that comes through as education about the disease and some of it comes through other coping mechanisms.
VS: Where can the readers of The Writing Mama find out more about and your writing?
Christy: You can find out more about me and the book at www.glutenfreekids.info.
VS: Is there anything else you would like to share with us about being a “Writing Mama or Dad”?
Christy: Continuing education about celiac disease is incredibly important. So, a portion of all proceeds from this book go directly to celiac disease research and awareness programs.
The World of Ink Network will be touring author Christy E. Bykowski's kid friendly celiac disease awareness picture book, Gluten-Free Me: Beckmin Goes to School January 2014. You can find out more about Christy E. Bykowski, her book and World of Ink Author/Book Tour at http://tinyurl.com/lquajjn
To learn more about the World of Ink Tours visit http://worldofinknetwork.com