Vanessa Ireson is a talented storyteller and illustrator celebrating her first published children’s book, Let’s Go, Goose-Goose! I had the pleasure of chatting with Vanessa about the new release. You can find the full interview below.
MIRIAM LAUNDRY: Hi Vanessa! Congratulations on the publication of Let’s Go, Goose-Goose! It’s such a fun, yet relatable book. Can you tell us who this book is for and when you started writing it?
VANESSA IRESON: Let’s Go, Goose-Goose! is for children four to eight years old. I had a different idea in mind when I signed up for the Children’s Book Masterclass in August 2021, but yours and Sharon’s teachings convinced me that this would be a better idea for my first book. The character of Goose-Goose came to mind as we started talking about story, and the journey a character must go on. Young geese go on an epic journey in the fall, but it’s not just a physical journey, it’s mental and emotional as well. I was interested in telling that story but still keeping it fun.
ML: What inspired you to become an author?
VI: I have always enjoyed writing and drawing. In fact, I recall writing and illustrating a children’s book about colourful paint drops, and what happens when they become friends, for a high school exam a long, long time ago. Hmm, maybe I should revisit that?
But being a mom and experiencing the joy of reading to children, relishing the words and rhymes, becoming immersed in the stories, and scrutinizing and appreciating the illustrations made me think, “I want to do this!”
My son and I make up stories together all the time. Seeing the engagement of kids is so exciting! I want my stories to be fun, but it’s wonderful if a subtle, embedded message can help start conversations or help a child process the big world they live in.
ML: Where did the inspiration come from to write Goose-Goose’s story?
VI: We are very fortunate to live by a beautiful conservation area in Ontario, Canada. We’re in there almost every day and really explored all the nooks and crannies during the lockdowns. It’s stunning through all four seasons.
My son discovered a friendly Canada goose who he likes to visit. We named him Goose-Goose. We often tell stories to each other as we go through our day, and this story grew out of the Goose-Goose visits and was inspired by the beautiful scenery. It was a good subject for a fun story that also had a subtle message about trying new things and trusting your instincts.
ML: Why was it important to you to share this message?
VI: Geese are renowned for a few things.
1. Lots of poop.
2. Their habit of flying in V formations is a great example of how teamwork, leadership and loyalty can help everyone in their community achieve great things. They can go farther and faster together, and no one is ever left behind.
ML: What was your biggest challenge when writing this book?
VI: This was a super fun process and I learned so much along the way, from writing and illustrating to publishing and marketing. But there were definitely times where the self-doubt crept in. Was my story good enough? Interesting enough? Fun enough? Was the lesson too heavy-handed? Were my illustrations working?
The support I got through the Publishing Mastermind program, which included your team, my coach and my writer’s group really helped motivate me and keep me on track. It’s easy to put personal projects on the back burner when life gets crazy. And it’s easy to procrastinate when you’re not feeling confident. Your encouragement kept me going!
ML: Thank you for the kind words, Vanessa. What made you sign up for Publishing Mastermind in the first place, and what was its greatest value to you?
VI: I finished Children’s Book Masterclass with confidence that I was ready to create my first book. And you give us all the knowledge, tools and resources to take you on your journey. But life can get very busy. I knew that I needed something to keep me accountable.
Our monthly meetings and a cohort of aspiring authors kept me motivated and on track. My alumni coach, Kris McQuown, was a great mentor. But there were so many other bonuses!
Having Sharon Jennings edit the manuscript gave me a boost of confidence. Samara Parent designed the book and brought her creative eye to my text and illustrations. Kalyna Taras and Samantha Corbett worked their magic behind the scenes with all the business, publishing and marketing stuff. And Lauren Bertone was a great copy editor. (Apparently I use too many dashes).
Writing and illustrating can be a very solitary pursuit. Joining Publishing Mastermind was like being invited to a great party full of like-minded people.
I met some amazing people from all over the world who are on a similar journey. We all have our own stories and motivations, but we were so excited to learn from each other and support each other. The monthly meetings included laughter, tears, and inspiring moments. You’re an amazing leader, a wonderful author, coach and businessperson, but you would also make a great therapist!
ML: Haha, thank you, Vanessa.
VI: When I was debating whether I should splurge and join Publishing Mastermind, I saw an interview with a financial advisor who said, “The best thing you can do is invest in yourself”. Upgrading your skills or knowledge will pay dividends.
Less than a year after joining, I am publishing my first book which was the main goal. But I also learned so many new skills: creating digital art, building websites, working on public speaking and self-promotion (not easy!), marketing tactics, time management, accepting and delivering critical feedback, stop using so many dashes. I’m already using these skills in other areas of my life.
I’m so glad I invested in myself and joined Publishing Mastermind. Thank you, Miriam Laundry!
ML: I’m so glad Publishing Mastermind helped you find joy throughout the process. Did you make any fun memories along the way?
VI: I think the surprising thing for me was how much support and encouragement I have received from my family and friends. I was shy about telling people what I was up to.
As a target audience member, my 7-year-old son had no choice. I made him weigh in on the story and illustrations throughout and he had some surprisingly astute observations that I took into account. On the page where Goose-Goose has his head underwater slurping seaweed, he said, “Mom, it looks like Goose-Goose is decapitated! I don’t think kids will like that!” I went back to the drawing board on that one.
I also had amazing editing support from my mom, Maureen Ireson. As a former high school English teacher, she was perfect for bouncing ideas off, helping me try different words to help with rhythm and rhyme and guiding my grammar and punctuation. I really enjoyed bonding with her over the creative process and it reminded me of how much she encouraged my love of words at a young age. If I ever used a big word when I was kid, she’d say, “Good word! Now spell it!”
My husband, David, has been my biggest cheerleader, and now that it’s all coming together my friends are so excited for me. It’s warming my heart!
ML: What do you hope parents and children take away from this book?
VI: A child’s life is filled with first times and new experiences. How can you help them deal with the fear of the unknown? This colourful rhyming story follows a young Canada goose as he navigates learning new skills, the changing of seasons, and moving away. Children will learn that it’s okay to be nervous, but a positive attitude, self-confidence, and a willingness to try will go a long way.
ML: Very well said, Vanessa. Lastly, can you share a piece of advice for any of the aspiring authors who come across this interview?
VI: You are not alone! If you have the creative urge to write, just do it. And find yourself a community to keep you motivated and inspired. This process taught me that there’s a whole community of people out there with big ideas who are happy to share their knowledge and encourage others. It’s never been easier to find support and resources online. It’s not, as long as you imagine going from aspiring author to published author!
ML: Thank you, Vanessa, and congratulations on Let’s Go, Goose-Goose! I hope you can one day read this story to the real Goose-Goose.
Watch the Full Interview:
Vanessa Ireson is a writer, illustrator, photographer, videographer and mom based in Ontario, Canada. She is inspired by the antics of all the fun kids in her life, and the amazing creatures who populate her pond and the forest behind her house.
A goose is featured in her debut picture book, “Let’s Go, Goose-Goose!” Frogs, toads, garter snakes, chipmunks and monarch butterflies are next!