Erin Royce - The Real Life Questions Our Little Ones Can Throw At Us
Erin Royce graduated from Carleton University in Ottawa, majoring in Law and English. In order to both see the world and pay school loans, she worked as a fitness instructor on cruise ships, managing the fitness programs. Erin walked off her last cruise ship in New York City and literally flew into the next chapter of her life – to her new home where she continues to reside, among the Rocky Mountains just outside of Calgary, Alberta. Though drawing and writing has been apart of her early life, it was her daughter Morgan who helped her rediscover her passion and love of writing. So, hold onto your bootstraps and stay tuned: Mommy, Why? is only the beginning. When read together, Mommy, Why? will give families the opportunity to discuss the issues raised in the book and encourage children to ask their own questions. It gives families a moment in time to "connect" with the children in our lives - to laugh - give squeeze hugs - answer questions and "just be" together - to let them know they matter to us - they matter in this world. As our Author of the Day, she tells us all about "Mommy Why."
Please give us a short introduction to what "Mommy Why" is about.
From the time they utter their first words, children are inquisitive. They ask parents questions non-stop - every day - about e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g from how they look and why, to bodily functions to reproduction - oh my! These questions can be difficult, funny, embarrassing, heartbreaking, and sometimes make absolutely no sense at all! As parents, we push forward and answer them all, the best we can, calmly on the outside while often screaming inside our head “how do I answer “that” question – am I doing this right - do I even know anything!" "Mommy, Why?" speaks to some of the real-life questions our little ones can throw at us. This is simply, not so simply, one parent trying to answer questions in a way to uplift, build confidence and instill how special, unique and worthy her child is, how all children are.
Was there anything in particular that made you want to tackle this?
Yes - to be able to give my daughter, and all children, something tangible to always hold on to and refer back to as a reminder of how amazing they are, how similar and different we can be from our parents and that we all have a place in this world, we all matter.
Why is it so important for children to have their questions answered by their parents?
I believe parents are children's "firsts" in many ways - whether we deserve it or not, parents are the first people children trust, love, smile/laugh and scream at and the ones they hold on to for dear life when things are just too much, no matter their age. Parents are children's first link to this life so to be present to answer their questions, even when we mess it up, matters a great deal. I think every time we show up for our kids even if we fall flat on our face, which we all do, it will help them develop love, trust,confidence,and their own voice.
You worked as a fitness instructor on cruise ships. How has this influenced your world view and your writing?
Influenced my worldview - It was such an amazing experience being around and learning about so many different cultures and ways of life.It made me grow as a person in so many ways - more tolerant, more understanding of different viewpoints, cultures, relationships, more patient, wanting to and becoming more confident to travel to new places, and overall, realizing, no matter where you come from, we are all much more alike than we think.
Writing - How can one not be creative when surrounded by beautiful places and people of all shapes, colours and backgrounds - I did write a short story shortly after arriving back in Canada about how I felt being on ships and, a funny Christmas poem for those I worked closely with while on board because they missed their family and friends back home during the holidays and I wanted to make them laugh and feel good - even though the experience was so amazing, it could be lonely at times not being around those that "really" know you.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
Oh nothing secret, I can't keep a secret to save my life:):) - I'm an open book! Hmm...I suppose I am a fairly good cook, I love all different kinds of food, it's my second happiest place aside from writing.
Why did you title this book "Mommy, Why?"
I would like to provide a deep and meaningful reason for the title, but..sigh...I can't:):) I chose it because those were the first two words my daughter always started with, in asking her, many, many questions growing up and still asks (she's only 11) each question in the book starts this same way, "Mommy, why......."
Please tell us more about the cover and how it came about.
I wanted something simple so as not to distract from the title, just enough to give an idea of what the book may be about, or at least make one wonder. Since I initially wrote Mommy, Why? Because of and for my daughter, the illustrator, Katie Carlson, drew a picture of her for the front cover- in her two favorite colours at the time, blue and pink - almost all illustrations in the book have been taken from our own family pictures.
This is your debut book. What has the experience been like so far?
Sitting down to write Mommy, Why? reminded me very quickly how much I loved and missed writing, it was like coming back home after a VERY long time away. The process from beginning to completion has been many things - scary, stressful, very overwhelming at times, and still is, but, a fantastic learning experience nonetheless with no regrets. It is gratifying to know I completed what I started and I am proud of what I accomplished. It has been amazing to meet those that I have in this industry so far. Though Mommy, Why? is self-published I certainly did not do everything on my own and had and still have a million questions myself. I have had nothing but kindness and support along the way. I now feel like I have some building blocks in place that will help make the next book an easier road to travel.
What is your personal favorite line from the book and why?
That is a tough one, each question and answer is so personal to me and equally meaningful - if I had to choose it may be the ending lines below, because it encompassed my intent for my daugher, for all kids to know they matter in this life and to embrace who they are and not to let anyone take that away from them:
"Be joyful and proud of who you are both inside and out - from your golden brown eyes to your flippy, crazy hair to that wonderful crooked smile that can be seen from a mile. Let no one ever make you feel incomplete. Your life is a gift, so be grateful for it. Be grateful for you, each and every day"
Why, would you say, is it important for parents to read with their children?
Parents are constantly multitasking and not able to pay strict attention to all of what kids say all of the time. During one of these times, my daughter at 3 years old was trying to get my attention, I was listening, not so much listening, when she finally yelled "Mommy"!! and I stopped my crazy multitasking and half listening, bend down and she took my face in both her hands, looked me in the eye and said, you aren't listening to me, you aren't looking at me - Mommy, look at me! I felt like parent of the year at that moment - ugh!!! So...at night, when it is quiet and life slows, I read to my daughter every day, until she could read, and then she would read to me as she learned, and now we read our own books together - we read, we talk, we reconnect and have open conversation without interruption - and I always try to look her in the eye when she is talking to me in these moments, this is what I think reading can bring to families - connection and a time to breath and "just be" together.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
Oh gosh, I don't know - I suppose Nike's "just do it" because I think if you want to do something just go for it, even if it's hard, don't complain and make excuses why something isn't working out, just try to walk through your fear/doubt/uncertainty and ask for help along the way. I also like "say what you mean and mean what you say" -
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
I don't think I have any interesting writing habits and no average writing day - I work, have a family and a crazy dog, so I write when I have a minute here or there, or sometimes will record an idea on my phone if I'm out, then, will have to connect the ideas when I get another minute to sit:) anytime I can sit down and focus on writing it feels crazy amazing for the 5 minutes before I am interrupted again:):) I wouldn't have it any other way!
What are you working on right now?
I have a few ideas started but I'm not certain how they will ultimately develop - a second book to Mommy, Why?, called, Mommy, Why Not?, and, two different series books, one more of a fantasy, and, another, a pirate on the high seas - perhaps age range, 8-12 - we'll see how they develop over this year.