Q: First tell us something about yourself?
I grew up in a tiny rural farming town in the interior of British Columbia and spent my childhood riding horses and as an active 4H member. I am now a grade one and two teacher at a small rural school and I love every minute of it! The job definitely has its challenges but its those little moments throughout the day of kids saying the kindest and
most insightful (sometimes the funniest!) things that make each day different and exciting!
Q: How and when did your journey start as a writer?
I never really considered myself as a writer and definitely didn’t see myself becoming a published author. I have always loved reading and my parents read to me every night through my childhood, my fondest memories are reading Harry Potter together. I would definitely consider myself more of a reader than a writer!
Q: When did you write your first story? Is it published or not?
I have just published my first children’s book titled The Kindness Quilt.
Q: Tell us something more about your books?
During my Bachelor of Education degree I took a Children’s Literature course, the final assignment for the course was to write a children’s book. At that point I had been involved in the search for a missing person in my area for a couple of years. 20 year old Ryan Shtuka disappeared at Sun Peaks Resort, BC on February 17th 2018. Immense search efforts took place and I joined those searches. I got to know his family as well as other followers of his story and it had a huge impact on me. My book, The Kindness Quilt is inspired by Ryan’s story and the community that formed around his family.
Q: Why do you choose kids as your reader ? is there any specific reason? My book came from a course assignment so there is that aspect of it being a children’s book however, being a teacher I have a built in audience. I really love children’s books that have a lesson or moral meaning attached to them. Many of the lessons I teach in my own classroom stem from stories and I often use books to explain concepts to my students.
Q: How did these stories and characters come to your mind?
Five years ago, on February 17th, 2018 20 year old Ryan Shtuka disappeared at Sun Peaks Resort, BC. Because my book was inspired by Ryan’s disappearance I wanted the characters to reflect that. A green long neck dinosaur has become the symbol of Ryan’s story after his mom, Heather Shtuka wrote a blog post in the early days of his disappearance about his childhood love of dinosaurs. When Ryan disappeared the kindness of complete strangers was so apparent and impactful. People came forward and gave what they could to help this family. Meal trains, fundraisers, and donations
flooded in. Buses, flights, and hotels were donated for search efforts. Boxes of food and supplies came to the command centre for the family and volunteers. Every single day for months, volunteers showed up at the command centre to join the search efforts. People hung posters around the village and surrounding communities and shared Ryan’s story through social media. I really wanted to highlight the acts of kindness that surrounded his family. This is where the concept of the quilt came from, each small patch of kindness woven together into this beautiful community. Early in Ryan’s disappearance and my involvement in search efforts I met an incredible group of women. None of us knew each other or Ryan and his family, but we quickly became close friends with each other and Ryan’s parent’s. Someone made a funny remark about unicorns at some point and we now refer to ourselves as The Unicorns. Finally, I wanted my illustrations to highlight the local environment. My illustrator did a spectacular job of including the landscape of Sun Peaks and the local animals.
Q: Do you want to leave any message for your readers?
Be kind. It really is that simple. You just never know what someone else may be going through, I think the world would be a lot better off if we were all just a little kinder.