Get to know one of our talented debut creators, Gareth Peter, and learn more about the inspiration for his adorable new #OwnVoices story Adventures with My Daddies.
Q: After having a career as a composer and a lyricist for theater, how did you decide to start writing children’s books?
A: I have always written or told stories in some form. It’s part of who I am. But when I was about 21, I tried writing a middle grade book. Sadly, I didn’t finish it, but I did turn it into a musical. Years later, I attended a children’s writing course to help reignite my passion for this genre. But what actually happened changed my life. Part of the course was about picture books, and that was my “Eureka!” moment. I felt that I could do it. And that night, I started writing… and I haven’t looked back.
Q: How is composing music different from writing a book? How is it similar?
A: When I compose music, I try to evoke a story or a feeling, and that’s exactly what I do when I write picture books. I have an idea or a theme or a journey that I want to explore, and I shape the story accordingly. It’s quite a fun process, but there’s a big element of trial and error. A great deal of what I create isn’t right, but you have to find what doesn’t work before you find what does. Picture books aren’t created in a day, they take weeks to shape… even though they seem so simple.
Here’s a tip also… If I write in rhyme, I tend to sing my texts to check whether the beats hit correctly.
Q: When we asked you to tell us the most exciting thing about being a debut creator, you mentioned this story features a family like yours. Why do you think it’s important for young readers to be exposed to diverse books written by people who share those identities?
A: Every family has the right to see themselves represented in the media. And that’s the same for books too. It’s incredibly empowering for children to see others like them achieving, or being happy, or tackling problems. It gives them confidence. It gives them understanding and it helps them know that it’s ok to be themselves. There aren’t as many books that feature LGBTQ+ parents, so I have a duty to bring my experience into the stories I write. I just hope they are widely shared and enjoyed. Fingers crossed.
Q: We loved finding the little dog in every spread! Did your own two huskies inspire you and Garry to include a dog in the story?
A: I love this part of the book too, but it had nothing to do with me. It was all Garry’s idea. I love how an illustrator brings a new perspective to a story or a new approach that you just didn’t think of. I think it’s amazing how Garry has taken inspiration from my words and created a believable and loving family. One day my doggies will appear in a book.
Q: What do you hope readers will take away from Adventures with My Daddies?
A: My hope is that readers will fall in love with this book. I hope they will see their family within it, regardless of the dynamic. It’s a simple exploration of love and the power of reading… things we can all understand. But my main hope is that it will bring more acceptance for LGBTQ+ and blended families. Love is love at the end of the day.