It was my absolute pleasure to interview Liliana Tommasini, the author of Miriam Laundry Publishing’s first book to be published in both English and French. An Italian living in Quebec, Liliana is using her linguistic gifts to inspire both English-speaking and French-speaking children. To celebrate the release of Octavia Can Do It! and Octavia est capable!, I met with Liliana for an interview.
Miriam Laundry: Hi Liliana! Congratulations on publishing your first children’s book in both English and French. Octavia Can Do It! is an incredible story about a young girl who discovers the importance of asking for help. What inspired you to write this book?
Liliana Tommasini: My grandchildren, Octavia and Ludovic, were my inspiration to write Octavia Can Do It! This book is their legacy from their Nonna.
ML: Why did you want to be an author?
LT: I was inspired when I began reading to my grandchildren. I have always enjoyed reading Robert Munsch books myself, and my granddaughter loved when I read The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Goodnight Moon to her when she was younger.
I wanted to be an author so I could write stories to capture my grandchildren's experiences and let them be the characters in their own stories.
ML: That’s wonderful. I love that you named the characters in the book after your own grandchildren. Throughout the story, Octavia learns how to ask for help. Why was it important to share this message in your book?
LT: Some children might not want to start doing things by themselves because they think they will fail. Parents should empower their children to try doing things by themselves and let them know it's okay to ask for help.
ML: You’re absolutely right. It’s important to teach children when to try new things on their own and when they should ask for help. As a matter of fact, you asked for some guidance as you pursued your author career.
LT: Yes, I joined the Publishing Mastermind course because it offered what I needed to write a book from beginning to end. You and the team were always available to provide support when I needed it.
My favourite part was the monthly group meetings. I met incredible women, and we are all supportive of each other. I feel there's a genuine camaraderie in my group.
ML: What was the biggest value of being part of Publishing Mastermind?
LT: I have learned so much from Publishing Mastermind during my journey in writing my first book. I could not have succeeded in writing my book without the guidance and support from you and your team — Samantha, Lauren, Samara and Kalyna.
I also met some wonderful people along the way.
ML: Having a supportive community is essential as an author. A solid support system can help us grow as we publish our children’s books. What was the biggest lesson you learned through it all?
LT: The biggest lesson I learned was perseverance, even during the days of self-doubt. I would remind myself that I was writing this book for my grandchildren and visualize their happy faces when they held a book where they were the characters in their own story.
ML: Remembering your WHY is a great way to stay motivated. Speaking of visualizing joyful moments, do you have a fun or memorable story to share from the publishing journey or when someone read your book?
LT: One of the two most memorable moments I have is when I gave one of the custom colouring bookmarks I ordered for Octavia to colour. She did not know at that time that I had written a book about her and her brother. I asked her who the little girl on the bookmark was. She looked at me and said, “That's me, Nonna.”
The second one was when I received my author copies. I was so excited to open the box right away!
ML: That must have been such a special moment for you to share with your granddaughter. What do you hope other parents and children take away from this book?
LT: As a mom sometimes I was hesitant to let my daughters try new things on their own because I wanted to protect them from getting hurt if they failed. Then I realized that it would be a lesson learned if they failed.
Children should try to do things on their own, but at the same time, parents should assure them that it's okay to ask for help if they need it.
ML: Lastly, if you could share one piece of advice with an aspiring children’s book author, what would it be?
LT: Don't compare yourself to other authors. Your story is unique, and you are the only one who can write it.
ML: Thank you, Liliana. Congratulations on becoming a published author!
Watch the Full Interview:
Liliana Tommasini is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She believes children should be empowered to explore and learn to ask for help when needed. Liliana enjoys collecting and writing cookbook reviews for her blog, My Cookbook Addiction.
Liliana is a wife, mother of two grown daughters, and Nonna (Grandmother) of two grandchildren. She loves to play games, read stories, and bake with her grandchildren. She lives with her husband and their red golden retriever in the beautiful province of Quebec.