Whenever I write, I choose subjects that I hope will make an impact. If any of my books mean something to even one young reader I feel like I'll have done my job!
Erin Silver's children's books include: Just Watch Me (Krystal Kite Award nominee), What Kids Did: Stories of Kindness and Invention in the Time of COVID-19 (Hackmatack Award nominee), Proud to Play: LGBTQ+ athletes who made history, Rush Hour: Navigating Our Global Traffic Jam (Blueberry Award winner), Sitting Shiva (Ontario Library Association Best Pick) and Good Food, Bad Waste: Let's Eat for the Planet. Her work has been a finalist for several awards including: Sydney Taylor Book Award, Vine Award, Ontario Library Association Best Pick and the TD Canadian Children's Literary Award.
Today, I am delighted to host a fellow Canadian on gilagreenwrites. Children's writer, Erin Silver is visiting me from Toronto, not too far from my hometown of Ottawa. Please welcome, Erin!
GG: Tell us about yourself.
ES: I'm a children's author from Toronto and I have two teenaged boys and a dog. Writing has been my passion since I can remember. I wrote for magazines and newspapers and worked in communications for over 20 years, but after I got divorced I decided it was an opportunity to achieve my dream of becoming an author. I went to conferences, attended courses and workshops, went back to school for an MFA, entered contests and cold called agents and editors just to chat. After so much hard work—and a lot of tears!—I accomplished my dream and had my first booked published in 2020. Then another and another all in the same year! Since 2020, I've signed 10 book contracts. I have six on shelves and four more on the way. A number of my books have even won awards. I'm so grateful every day to have a job that feels more like a hobby. I could do this forever!
GG: Tell us about your latest work.
ES: In addition to working on several children's books and freelancing for magazines and newspapers, I work at B'nai Brith Canada. This human rights organization is all about helping the community, fighting antisemitism and protecting all communities from hate and intolerance. I'm working on a book in honour of their 150th birthday, so I get to meet a lot of people who have made an impact and share their stories. I'm really proud of how it's coming together!
GG: Did you receive a reaction to your latest work that you were not expecting?
ES: When I wrote Sitting Shiva, I never expected it to be published. It was a picture book about a Jewish mother who dies, but it was meaningful and beautiful to me. It took me years and many drafts to write it. I entered it in a contest and shopped it around. When two mainstream publishers wanted it I was floored. I chose the publisher that was willing to keep to my original premise of the mother dying. The book was released by Orca in May 2022 and since then it's won several awards. I'm always surprised when readers tell me how meaningful it is and how it makes them cry. Really it's a book about community and how all cultures have more in common than we have differences. I suppose I'm surprised that my little book that I never expected to come to fruition seems to mean so much to so many people. It's really humbling that I was able to write a book that has made such an impact.
GG: How does your Judaism inform your work?
ES: I make sure to do something nice for someone every day and make a point of giving back. That's what Judaism means to me—it's about having a purpose and being a good human. Whenever I write, I choose subjects that I hope will make an impact. If any of my books mean something to even one young reader I feel like I'll have done my job!
GG: What advice do you have for people interested in publishing for children?
ES: My best advice is don't give up. There were tons of times I felt like I'd never be published-like I was wasting my time pursuing a dream that was impossible. But this was all I'd ever wanted to do, so I kept at it. All you need is one yes from one person and you're on your way. If you quit, you'll never know what you can achieve.
GG: What are you working on now?
ES: I'm so excited to have three nonfiction titles coming out in 2024. I guess in hockey that would be a hat trick! I also have other manuscripts and proposals I'm shopping around. I'm always working on something!
GG: Is there anything you wish to add?
ES: I'd like to add that I'm just so grateful for the opportunity to do what I love. The recognition is a bonus. Whether I win or don't win, I'm so fortunate to find inspiration in the world around me and to have a network of people who support me in all I do—from my family and friend to my publisher. My name might be on the cover, but everything I do feels like a team effort!
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