Jeanette Stampone becomes a published author with debut picture book, ‘Shadow and the Girl’

Jeanette Stampone, author of picture book Shadow and the Girl
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Courses completed at AWC:
Writing Picture Books
​​Presenting to Kids

When AWC’s Writing Picture Books course popped up in her social media feed, Jeanette Stampone was intrigued. She had always loved literature and, as she was on maternity leave from her local government job, it felt like the right time to take her writing seriously.

“Enrolling on the course meant I had actually invested in myself and my dream,” Jeanette says. “While I was taking the course, I felt a strong sense of ‘this is what I should be doing’. And from that moment onwards, I told myself I would never give up.”

Jeanette’s decision to invest in herself has paid off and she can now call herself a published author. Her debut picture book Shadow and the Girl has been released by Red Paper Kite with illustrations by Demelsa Haughton.

“It felt like a dream. It still does,” Jeanette says. “I love the end result. It was worth all the hard work and waiting.”

Learning the fundamentals

As a child, Jeanette had enjoyed using her imagination and making up stories. But the idea of being an author seemed like a remote possibility for an ‘ordinary’ girl! Her perspective changed when a good school friend became an author, and Jeanette realised that with hard work she could also become published.

“Since I was very small, I have enjoyed reading and writing. I also have beautiful memories of my mother sitting at the end of my bed, reading stories to me. Then, when I had my own children, I rediscovered the joy of children’s books,” Jeanette told us.

Enrolling in the Writing Picture Books course, Jeanette found the perfect mix of concrete techniques and encouragement.

“As a beginner, I found it useful to understand the fundamentals of creating a picture book,” Jeanette says. “My tutor, Cathie Tasker was honest and said it wouldn’t be easy, but she was also encouraging and supportive, giving me hope and enthusiasm.”

With two small kids at home, it was important for Jeanette that the course was offered online. 

“I really appreciated the flexible online format. It meant I could work on the course in the evening when the children were asleep. I also live in a regional town so it’s difficult to travel to the city for courses, especially with young children to care for. This format was perfect for me.”

Shadow and the Girl by Jeanette StamponeA quirky story finds the perfect home

The idea for Shadow and the Girl started flitting around Jeanette’s head about a year after she finished the Writing Picture Books course. 

“It began as a monster afraid of a boy, but I couldn’t get it to work,” Jeanette recalls. “Then, around the same time, my son became fearful of shadows and reflections, and that gave me the idea of a shadow being afraid of its own child. It still took several attempts to get the idea formed into an actual story though!”

Jeanette knew that her story was unusual for a picture book, so after a few unsuccessful submissions, she popped it away in a drawer. Then she saw that Red Paper Kite were open for submissions, and knew that they published quirky stories. 

“My shadow story didn’t immediately spring to mind, as it had been so long since I wrote it. But I looked in my folders … and there it was, just patiently waiting for the right time. I knew it was the one I had to submit,” Jeanette says. “About a month later, I was offered a contract.”

Shadow and the Girl is an imaginative and fast-paced tale full of movement with themes of bravery and self-acceptance. The heartwarming ending will encourage children to embrace their own shadows and gain self-confidence. 

“I was paired with illustrator Demelsa Haughton, which was also a dream come true,” Jeanette says. “Her work is incredible and it was amazing to see her interpretation of the text, which was completely different to what I imagined.”

A great career ahead

As a busy mum, Jeanette fits writing time in between family commitments. She’s also keen to start doing school visits and has enrolled in our Presenting to Kids course with Nat Amoore. And she has signed a contract with Wombat Books for her second picture book The Dragon Guest Handbook.

And it all started by making the decision to pursue her dream.“I feel like the story of Shadow and the Girl has made a point to me, the author. We all have shadows. It’s okay to be afraid. Courage begins with accepting yourself. It’s been a wonderful journey.”

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