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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Visit with Jill Starishevsky, Author of My Body Belongs to Me

Jill tell us about yourself and why you wrote this book.

I am a prosecutor of child abuse and sex crimes in New York City and the mother of three little girls.  I have been prosecuting sex crimes for almost 15 years and work hard to keep my work life separate from my home life.
Tell us about the genre of your work. 
I wrote a children's book, My Body Belongs to Me, to teach children to tell a parent or teacher if someone is touching them inappropriately.  The book is geared toward 3-8 year olds and has simple text with colorful pictures.
Why did you choose this genre?
I chose to write a children's book because through my work, I continuously encountered children who had been sexually abused for long periods of time and did not tell anyone.  I felt that a book with a simple message to tell someone would go a long way in keeping children safe from sexual abuse.
What ages do you direct your book?
This book is geared toward 3-8 year olds.
My Body Belongs to Me ISBN: 0982121601 can be purchased on Barnes & Noble, on Amazon and at www.MyBodyBelongstoMe.com
Does your book have a teaching objective?  If so, what is it?
Yes, the purpose of the book is to teach children that their bodies are private and if someone touches them inappropriately, they should tell a parent or teacher right away.
How do you come up with the names of places and characters in your books?
I intentionally avoided giving the character a name in the book.  In fact, there is no indication of the gender of the child.  Often, boys identify it being a boy and girls identify it as a girl.
What is your favorite thing about your book?
My favorite thing about My Body Belongs to Me is that there is a section in the back called Suggestions for the Storyteller.  This section walks the reader through the discussion that should occur after the book is read.
Is your book illustrated?  If so, would you tell us by whom, and if you worked with an illustrator, can you discuss that experience?
The book has colorful illustrations created by Sara Muller.  This was Sara's first experience creating illustrations for a children's book and there is a sweetness to each one.  The expression on the child's face perfectly amplifies the story.
How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre?
The genre in which I write is different than others in that there is usually a message involving safety. 
Are there any problems in getting children’s’ books published? 
I self-published My Body Belongs to Me and am now working with an agent to have it picked up by a larger publisher.  There is a good demand to have the book translated into other languages as well.
Why and when did you begin writing?
I began writing when my daughter was almost three years old.  I wanted to have a discussion with her about "good touch/bad touch".  I was not quite sure what to say so I sought out a book to help me along the way.  I was not able to find a book that was age appropriate so I ultimately created one.
What is your writing schedule?
I wrote at night when my children were sleeping. 
What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?I had a meeting today to discuss my next children's book which will be one involving keeping children safe on the internet.
What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write and get published?
Start writing and show your work to as many people as you can and solicit their honest feedback.  Sometimes writers get so close to their work, they can no longer view it objectively.
What do you do when you are not writing? 
When I am not writing a book, I am writing poems for The Poem Lady.  The Poem Lady is a website where people can request customized poems for the special occasions in their life.
What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?
In April of this past year, I had the honor of appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss what motivated me to write My Body Belongs to Me.  It was an incredible experience and certainly gave me that "Made it" feeling.  In addition to meeting one of the most inspiring women in the world, I was able to share the message of My Body Belongs to Me with an international audience.  It was tremendously rewarding and a moment I will never forget.
Learn more about Jill and her work at: 
Twitter: @SafetyStar
Quote from a Review:
"...In only 19 sentences, this simple book will empower children while promoting open communication". - School Library Journal

1 comment:

Carole McKee said...

This is a subject that cannot be written about too many times. Great interview.