Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our spotlight on Whitney Stewart, author of travel stories, children’s books, and a new set of mindfulness activity cards, Mindful Kids. The staff at ABSW were really excited to see a demo of the card set from Barefoot Books, so we worked with the publisher to create a special event this holiday season, where we will bring Whitney to the store and actually practice some mindfulness techniques to help our patrons with holiday stress! On December 3, from 1:oo-3:00 PM, come to our 65 James Street store to learn a few mindful activities for adults and children, to help make this holiday season a little less stressful.
Whitney Stewart will travel far for a story. She’s trekked in a Himalayan snowstorm with Sir Edmund Hillary, interviewed the Dalai Lama in India, and visited Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma. She’s worked as a puppeteer in France and has dug in former WWII battlefields in rural Poland. She is the author of travel stories, multiple children’s books, and her new mindfulness activity cards, Mindful Kids. When she is not writing or traveling, she teaches mindfulness and meditation to children.
Whitney grew up in Wayland, MA and now lives in New Orleans.
Not only did Whitney give us a great interview about herself and her work, which we’re sharing today—but also, she gave us some great information on mindfulness that we’ll share next month!
Thank you so much for joining us, Whitney! What is your favorite part of being a writer? Of the whole writing and publishing process? What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?
Favorite part of writing? I love research and travel. As a nonfiction writer, I do both. What could be more joyful than following your passions? That said, the craft is not always easy. Some days I tear my hair out over word choice. The greatest lesson? That’s a hard one…I’ve learned that I might fail today with one manuscript, but I can turn around tomorrow and succeed with another. That gives me confidence that I didn’t have when I started my career thirty years ago.
What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?
Be gentle with yourself, but not with your writing. Writing takes hard work. Be willing to throw away what you thought was precious text and start over, again and again.
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
I have forthcoming children’s books and activity books on mindfulness and on world cultures. Look for them in 2018. I have also been writing a screenplay, so watch out Hollywood!
What are your passions when you’re not writing? How do you make time for your non-writing hobbies/things you love?
As I said, I LOVE to travel. When I was just seventeen, I left Boston and went to Europe. I had a Eurail Pass and jumped on trains and boats from Greece to Norway, making loads of stops in between. Later I traveled widely in Asia and lived for a time in Japan and India. My husband’s family is German, so we moved to Germany for a few years with our son.
Hiking and kayaking are my favorite sports now. New Orleans does not have mountains, so I plan vacations in the mountains when I get the chance. I still love hiking in the Green and White Mountains where I spent so much time as a kid.
When I have free time at home, I read, visit museums, go for a long bike ride, or hang out with friends and family. Sometimes I get excited about cooking vegetarian recipes I’ve never tried. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was fifteen.
What has been your favorite adventure during your writing career?
I have had SO many adventures. Interviewing the Dalai Lama in India has to be my favorite. I will never forget his kindness. I was so nervous to meet him, but he made the conversation easy and left me with such wisdom.
Meditating in remote monasteries and temples in Nepal, Burma, and Japan comes second.
While you’re writing, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!
SILENCE! I wish I could turn off all background noise except bird calls.
Are there any groups, clubs, or organizations that you would recommend to other writers that have helped you in your career?
Membership in the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) has been invaluable to my career. I have attended their conferences since the 1980s.
Kindling Words is my other essential group for published children’s book writers and illustrators. I loved going on retreat with my uber-talented KW friends.
I also belong to the Author’s Guild, the Boston Author’s Club, and the Woman’s National Book Association.
Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)
Author Website: www.whitneystewart.com
Barefoot Books landing page: http://bit.ly/2gZrQPg
How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?
Stop into Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester on Sunday, December 3, from 1:00 – 3:00 PM to learn some mindfulness techniques to make your holiday season a little less stressful!