How to write an environmental children’s book

First and foremost, I want to start this blog by saying that this is entirely new territory for me. This is not only my experience with working on an environmental picture book, but also working on my first (proper) children’s book EVER – and so these are things I have found helpful, but if you’re thinking of writing a book of your own then I encourage you to find out what works for you.

Pick a topic you care about

This probably goes without saying, but if you’re not passionate about environmentalism, then why do you want to write about it? I’m not saying you have to be a zero-waste vegan to ‘be allowed’ to write about nature, but I think you need to have a genuine interest in learning about our planet, the creatures who reside here and how we as humans may be affecting things.

Knowing that your subject matter is something you genuinely care about also makes it easier to keep pushing through when things get tough.

Decide on a niche

If you want to write broadly on environmentalism, then please be my guest, but personally I have found it a little less overwhelming to focus on one subject.

Knowing that my research is ‘limited’ to the red handfish makes it easier for me to craft a story around the one that already exists. A big question that I had to ask myself when embarking on this journey was what kind of story I wanted to write; whether it was going to be a collection of facts and true to life stories about the handfish, or more of a classic children’s story with a red handfish as the central character. I actually decided on something kind of in the middle, but more on that later.

Talk to people who know more than you

As soon as I started researching the red handfish, I realised how little I knew, and could easily understand, about this awesome animal. One of the first things I did, without having any real idea of what I was doing, was reach out to the Handfish Conservation Project and ask if they had someone I could chat to.

I was incredibly fortunate that Dr Jemina Stuart-Smith had time she could spare for me, and we were able to get together and chat all things handfish. Our joint excitement in the project was apparent from our first meeting and it was really just a matter of figuring out what the story should be about and how we could assist each other in helping the handfish.

Jemina has been integral in the creation of this book, and continues to lend a hand whenever she can. I know for sure that I couldn’t have even begun to put this together without her incredible knowledge and enthusiasm.

Have a plan, but also let things evolve (because they will)

One thing I’ve learned, not only from this, but also in life, is that it’s important to have a plan, but it’s just as important to go with the flow. Things will never turn out quite as you expected them to.

Our current situation (COVID-19) has put a lot of pressure on my work and meant that some things that I was excited for haven’t been able to happen. It’s easy to get bogged down in this and start stomping your feet and backing away, but I’ve just tried to count my blessings, make a cuppa and carry on.

Whatever the project is meant to be, is what it will be.

I want to thank you all for continuing to support me on this journey. I hope to have a chat with you down in the comments.

Chat soon x

Kat