Crash landing - into a children's picture book!
Two years ago, I attended a workshop with two of the literary greats of children's literature in Canada - Humber School of Writing's Cynthia Good and Rick Wilkes of Annick Press. This cute little book was partly the result! Way back in 2015 when I finished my MFA in creative nonfiction, I was coming off a five year term of working at the university (UPEI), teaching English as an Additional Language to international students. Even after I had taken on other classes as a sessional, I was inspired to continue working with EAL students. At a large writing conference in Minneapolis, I met the director of a group called The Afghan Women's Writing Project (AWWP), an project inspired by young Afghan women, to help bring their stories to the world. With my background in EAL, travel writing and nonfiction, I was a great fit to be a writing mentor.
For two years, I read and edited stories,and helped to prep them for the blog. Most of which were written by students at one of Afghanistan's oldest learning institutions, Kabul University. When the university was damaged in civil unrest, it became no longer safe for the women to use the computers there, and the mentorship program was temporarily disbanded.
Fast forward ahead to 2018, when I became acquainted with Afghan writer, Wadia Samadi. At the time, I was doing research into a larger book project (still unfinished!) and interviewed Wadia. While I edited Cargo Literary (although I have to admit, I struggled to keep the journal up after my third baby was born) Wadia had her own digital publication too - WadSam News, for female entrepreneurs in Afghanistan. We had so much to talk about!
She knew of the Afghan Women's Writing Project, and wrote for one of its successors, Free Women Writers. We chatted about many things on Skype one day (the pre-zoom days) but the biggest thing we had in common was we were both mothers to daughters. Wadia had just moved to America, but with the Trump administration, was fearful she would not be able to stay permanently.
As we talked about her transition from Afghanistan, we wondered if there was a way we could help future girls adjust to life in North America. So what did we do? We wrote a book.
While we are still querying the book, (rejection keeps a person honest, doesn't it?) in 2020 we did commission some beautiful artwork by one of my favourite east coast illustrators - Doretta Groenendyk. We are hoping in 2021 someone picks up this little story.
I'll keep you posted.