Interview with Suzanne Hemming - Author of Award Winning Book "She's Not Good for a Girl, She's Just Good!"
Suzanne Hemming was a stay at home mum to her daughter, Thea, when she put pen to paper, and began to write rhyming children’s stories. Reading to Thea is something Suzanne and her husband, Richard, have done since since Thea was tiny, but she (Suzanne not Thea!) was becoming increasingly fed up of books about pink princesses, who waited for the prince to whisk them away.
In searching for inspiring and empowering books for girls, and (with the exception of a few amazing authors) after discovering there are limited choices, she decided to start writing. The idea to self-publish one of her stories, and set up a publishing company, led to Thea Chops Books, and the start of a new career as author and publisher.
We are huge fans of her first book "She's Not Good For a Girl, She's Just Good!" so were delighted when she agreed to do an interview with us so that we could find out ore about her and Thea Chops Books.
What inspired you to write “She’s Not Good for a Girl, She’s Just Good!”?
My daughter is my main inspiration. I want to do everything I can to ensure that she believes she can do anything and be anything she wishes as she grows up.
Why did you decide to write a book that would help break down gender stereotypes?
Around the time of Thea’s first Christmas, I wanted to buy her some of the old fashioned fairy tales that I had read when I was younger. Once I started reading them, I couldn’t help but think how outdated many of the messages were: lots of pink passive princesses waiting to be rescued, princes who had to be brave and strong. I started to think about kid’s movies, nursery rhymes and TV adverts, and the many gender biases you see. No wonder there’s still such a gender gap; it’s what we’ve been teaching kids they have to be and do for generations!
Do you have plans for any more books?
A second is almost written, and Jacquie (my wonderful illustrator) has started sketching. At the moment it’s about a princess (I can’t escape the rise of princesses in our world with a 4 year old daughter!) but this princess loves maths and science, and wants to be more than just the queen when she grows up!
Why do you think it is important for children to enjoy reading?
It’s so important. The ability to read is everything. In the very early stages of life it’s part of language and speech development. I think it also provides amazing bonding moments between you and your child. When Thea was little we would sit on the sofa and read her books together, way before she could speak. But she understood, and she could point to the pictures when I asked her questions. Kids need fresh air, and to be able to run around and burn off energy, but they also need quiet mindful moments, and when they’re little, at any age actually, curling up with your child and a few books is such wonderful way to spend time with them. And now, seeing my daughter starting to read for herself; the joy it gives her when she sounds out words and understands what she’s read. She’s so happy that she can read! That joy is almost indescribable!
What challenges did you face whilst writing your book and how did you overcome them?
The main challenge really was one of self confidence. I didn’t write for a living before I had my daughter, and that little voice in your head can shout rather loudly you know? I wondered if anybody would ever want to read something I had written, I had no track record. But we all start somewhere, and I’m always telling my daughter, the important thing is that you try. So I knew that I’d only ever regret not having had a go
Have you always loved reading?
I have. I could read for hours when I was younger, I loved getting lost in a book; I’d feel sad at the end and if there wasn’t another about the same characters, I’d miss them! Since becoming a parent one of the things I miss most is not having the time to read as I once did. I don’t make the time really and there’s always a pile of books by the bed that I’m hoping I’ll pick up.
Who is your favourite children’s book author and why?
Andrea Beaty is the amazing writer of Rosie Revere, Engineer, and Ada Twist, Scientist, amongst other fabulous books.
Her rhyming and story telling is just wonderful, the rhymes (like Julia Donaldson’s) are almost musical. Kids love hearing them and parents love reading them.
What is your favourite children’s book?
Oh I don’t think I could choose! Rosie Revere, Engineer is up there. As is Monkey Puzzle by Julia Donaldson. And I love, Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton. See I can’t choose!
If you could do anything else for the day what would it be?
I’m pretty content with life right now. I’ve been thinking about this question and I can’t think of anything else! Save for maybe being on a nice long holiday somewhere warm!
If you could spend a day with one of the PrenderPals who would it be and why?
Rosie the Racoon because she was born in September the same as me, and I think we’d chat a lot about the books that we like to read, and then do lots of dancing!
Thank you so much to Suze for taking the time to answer our questions, we hope you have enjoyed reading her answers as much as we have.
"She's not Good For A Girl, She's Just Good!" tells the story of a young girl named Florence, whose passion is sport, despite the scepticism of young Frank, who thinks girls are rubbish at sport. Flo challenges Frank and in doing so, challenges her own preconceptions too!
A beautifully illustrated picture book which delivers the message that boys and girls can do anything they wish, and just as well as each other, if they want to.
Available now on Lobella Loves! Go go go!!