In the new age of pause, many of us are becoming increasingly grateful for the small things in life. Quality time with family, moments of solitude, or bedtime with a good book are treasures. My daughter will soon move on to college and I long for the days when we bonded over a magical read before bed. Recently, tables turned to remind me of the precious gifts that come without a price tag. It cost nothing, if you are willing to relinquish a little time. Eventually, the clock runs out but there is potential to do plenty before time expires .
Beth Ferry is a mom of three, her favorite things include Halloween, reading, wordplay, bulldogs, and lilacs. She lives close by a beach in New Jersey and grows pumpkins in her garden. Her New York Times bestseller, Stick and Stone is among the impressive collection of children’s books that carry her name as author. Her genuine and magical storytelling is engaging, accompanied by beautiful illustrations that take readers into whimsical tales. AW had the wonderful opportunity to ask the author about inspiration, career and motherhood.
We don’t necessarily know the shape our careers will take. Did you always want to be a writer? Where did your inspiration come from to do children’s books? Isn’t that the truth! When you’re young, the possibilities seem endless. There are so many choices, and exciting roads leading into the future. I did always want to be a writer but it took me a long time to end up in this place. Now that I’m here, it feels like the right time in my life and I am enjoying the view from this road, immensely. As for my inspiration for writing picture books, I’ve always admired the brevity and poignancy of the picture book. As I began writing, I naturally turned to that genre, as I believe they are the perfect bite of a book.
How did you juggle being a mom of three and have a writing career? What has been the most challenging aspect of doing these, simultaneously? Time! Time is the answer to so many questions, isn’t it? Finding the time to write. Finding the time to listen. To play. To cook. To clean. To help. To drive. To sleep. I didn’t start writing seriously until my youngest was in middle school. At that point, I felt like I finally had that bit of time to focus on myself, my writing, and dreams. What I find most challenging is putting myself and writing first.
Your books have a fanciful feel to them, it’s as if you wrote them from a beach or in a very relaxed setting. What is your favorite place to write? I’m so happy to hear that it seems like I write on the beach, which I rarely do – too many distractions, but lots of good inspiration. My favorite place to write is snuggled somewhere at home with my bulldog. He’s a pretty good listener and doesn’t mind if I read my stories aloud 100 times.
What is your personal favorite of all your books? If we had to read one of these books to our children which would you choose? This is the hardest question of them all!
But I would have to choose Stick and Stone as my personal favorite for many reasons. I think the message about being a good friend is a timeless one, for who among us hasn’t struggled with friendship at some point in our lives and yet, like hope, I believe friendship is an essential ingredient in life. I also think the art is perfect – sweet, warm and invites children into a world where I hope they can see themselves being as kind and helpful as Stick and Stone.
Who or what inspired your latest book, Swashby and the Sea? Swashby and the Sea, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal was inspired by countless trips to the beach with my children. They often wrote words in the sand – their names or the name of the beach we were visiting. So the idea of the sea washing away just a few letters to change a message seemed like a fun idea to experiment with. The message of how neighbors can become like family is a theme dear to my heart since I’ve been lucky enough to have neighbors who are as close as family.
What is your favorite personal mantra or quote? The quote “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all” by Emily Dickinson speaks to me every single time I read it. This quote captures the essence of hope and how it lives within all of us. And that idea resonates with me greatly. I believe that hope is an essential piece in life. But lately, this quote by Teddy Roosevelt, also feels relevant and true: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” It is so easy to get lost in comparing yourself and your successes with others, especially in this age of social media. I’m trying to teach my kids not to do it and trying to follow my own advice as well.
I found personal inspiration from my exchange with Beth. The week of the interview, my daughter read the Stick and Stone book to me aloud, as a way of cheering me up. How the tables turn – funny, it was only the other day, I’d read to her each night. Time is precious, the one thing we don’t seem to have enough of – like breathing. As a woman, I try to be everything to everyone. Managing countless tasks and priorities at home, work and relationships to keep loved ones happy. Beth has been able to find a groove and build her dream over time. I‘m learning to carve my own roads in the pursuit of finding purpose. The hope is to realize the ultimate result, a life envisioned.
We nurture our children selflessly, for as long as possible, holding them in our wombs and homes. Enjoy the gifts that come with taking care of them. Read, cook, care, teach, guide and comfort your babies but while doing so, remember that you are a person too with needs to be fulfilled. Time does not wait.
Have you started your personal journey to where you want to be?
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