In celebration of the publication of her new book, The Starlit Dancer, City writing short courses caught up with author Maggie Richards to find out more about the book and her writing career.
Short Courses (SC): Please tell us a bit about yourself and your role at City
Maggie Richards (MR): I’m a former Times, Sunday Times and Guardian journalist and author of ‘A Guide to Being a Better Being.’ At City teach a monthly sell-out masterclass on Zoom called ‘Introduction to Copywriting’. It’s a fun and practical distillation of inspiring insights, techniques and approaches I’ve learned over my 24-year career.
I love the diversity of international students that the course attracts, and witnessing their confidence and clarity grow over just six hours. Several have gone on to secure paid copywriting roles, which is great! I also teach City’s Writing for Business short course
SC: You’ve published The Starlit Dancer, a beautiful picture book for 3-7 year-olds about Mabel, a girl whose love lights up the world. It’s a really inspiring read and a great way to help children sleep better and introduce them to the idea of a loving inner voice they can trust. Meditation is a key part of your life and work. With Spiritual Adviser, Executive Producer – Christspiracy, Associate Producer – SLAY Film and Screenwriter Cher Chevalier, you co-wrote the 24 (8×3) meditations that launched Calm, iTunes App of the Year 2017. What made you turn towards writing a children’s book?
MR: Through Cher, also author of the Animals Actually A-Z of books, I’d already been guided to work spiritually with children, and had set up relaxation classes to teach them about kindness, positive thinking and meditation. Good books can change lives and perhaps it was a natural progression to uplift little ones through a something they can hold and keep.
SC: Can you tell us about the process of writing and publishing the book?
MR: The Starlit Dancer is rare because it’s an inspired book – the story came flowing into my mind one day. I didn’t know it was coming! It’s always a special honour to be entrusted with words, especially when they’re so joyful.
It was important that only good energy went into our little book, which is why the author, advisers, translators and narrators are all successful veggie-vegan women.
The Spanish version was co-translated and narrated by Argentine actress, film producer and animal rights activist Liz Solari, while Australia-based voice over artist Natasha Beaumont narrates the English version, and a quick Google search for ‘vegan illustrators’ connected us with the talented Antonella Canavese from Italy.
For full control of the publishing process, I self-published with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. It was largely quick, simple and easy, and when I needed help, the Customer Service team responded within 24 hours.
Formatting the manuscripts as a paperback and ebook was done by professionals on fiverr.com, while the audiobook files were prepared by recording studios, and I uploaded them for free to ACX.com. Teamwork makes the dream work!
SC: You’re a copywriter by profession. How different was it to write a story for children?
MR: Copywriting requires planning, researching, meeting the brief, and often aims to sell a product or service. The Starlit Dancer story required much less effort because it was given to me in its entirety largely as it’s written.
SC: Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to write their own children’s book?
MR: Three points come to mind:
1) Choose carefully your goal and make it good. We all have a responsibility to empower little ones by educating them in the steps to success: how to be kind, happy and harmless, for example.
2) Words (and thoughts) shape our world. It’s important to speak sweetly to children, choosing positive, loving words and phrases so as to feed their minds only ‘light’.
3) Use rhyme – it’s a great way of learning and fun to write. Repetition, too, helps very young children engage and learn.
Thanks so much, Maggie, and congratulations on the book.
If you’re interested in taking her copywriting course, click HERE.