Roberta Tays Wright is a passionate educator, mother and grandmother. She is also the debut author of Out of This World Granny, a heartwarming story of a young girl who finds her own unique way to celebrate Grandparents’ Day. To celebrate the book’s release, I sat down with Roberta to chat about the writing process.
MIRIAM LAUNDRY: Hi Roberta! Congratulations on your brand new children’s book. Can you tell us who it’s for and what inspired you to write it?
ROBERTA WRIGHT: Out of This World Granny is for children ages three to eight years old. My parents/grandparents inspired me with a print-rich home and lots of emphasis on literacy and service. Each Christmas we had a written reflection of the year with encouraging words for the upcoming year. My teachers nurtured my writing and I won some state-wide contests along with writing/editing the school paper and local newspapers. This gave me confidence. After college, I wrote obituaries for the Houston Post. That’s when I realised I could make a living with my writing.
ML: Where did the inspiration for this specific story come from?
RW: I already had a draft in 2010, but it focused on the ABCs of being a grandmother. My A was Astronaut Granny, B was Baker Granny, and C was Cowgirl Granny. I spent eight years trying to get an agent and receiving some lovely rejections. However, in 2021 when Wally Funk became the oldest woman to fly to space at age 82 - she became my inspiration to focus exclusively on Out of This World Granny. Also, Beverly Cleary said, “If you don’t see the book you desire on a shelf… write it yourself!”
ML: Well said! Why was it important to you to share this message with children?RW: Kids need to know that they can be problem-solvers, and sometimes they will be effective and sometimes not so much. Then they must learn to accept the situations. I also want them to know that seniors in their lives are very important, whether they live down the street or on another continent. It was important to break the stereotypes of grandparents and portray them as active, vital, and full of enthusiasm.
ML: What was the biggest lesson you learned from publishing your first children’s book?
RW: After years of attending webinars, SCBWI workshops, author lectures, community college classes, and being a member of two writing/critique groups, I learned that a hybrid publisher like ML Publishing funnels all that expertise I had been chasing into a well-oiled machine. The teaching, the editing, and the book design was all in one place, along with a writing coach, and a community of writers.
ML: I’m so glad Publishing Mastermind helped you in that way. Do you have any fun memories from the publishing process?
RW: When my illustrator was running behind, she confided that her daughter had a friend over for playtime. In order for her to meet the deadline, she asked the girls to play quietly on the floor and she would include them in the book. They agreed, and she fulfilled the offer.
ML: That is amazing! If you could share one piece of advice with an aspiring author, what would you say?
RW: There is a quote from Neil Gaiman which says, “A book is a dream that you hold in your hands.” I’d say, “Make those dreams come true!”
ML: Yes! It’s so important to keep chasing that dream. Lastly, what do you hope parents and children take away from Out of This World Granny?
RW: Kids can be problem-solvers and creative, sharing individuals. Parents don’t need to micro-manage every aspect of their children’s lives. Grandparents (1 billion strong in the world) are important whether they are local or long distance.
ML: Thank you, Roberta, and congratulations again on your first children’s book.
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Roberta Tays Wright
Roberta Tays Wright is a fifth-generation Texan and a retired educator/administrator having served 32 years with the Houston Independent School District. As an educator, mom, and grandparent, she believes the single greatest predictor of academic success is reading to children and instilling a love of reading in them. Roberta aims to encourage self-reliance and problem-solving in children by writing books with realistic examples.