Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Q & A with Shanta Everington

Shanta Everington is a writing parent who lives in the UK. Her new book, The Terrible Twos: A Parents Guide, was just released on the first of September. She took the time to answer some questions for this blog.

1. When did you become a parent?

My son was born in June 2006. I was totally unprepared for the reality of parenting, despite working with children and families beforehand!

2. How have your experiences as a parent influenced your writing?

After becoming a parent, I also became fascinated with reading parenting books. In the first year, I spent a lot of time thinking deeply about the relative merits of different types of parenting approaches and I spoke to a lot of other parents. A lot of my creative energy became focused on parenting. The first few years are so intense. When my son turned three, I felt that I wanted to use my own experiences and research to start writing parenting books of my own. :)

3. How did you manage getting commissioned to write The Terrible Twos: A Parent's Guide?

It happened in a roundabout kind of way. I sent in a proposal for something else that the publisher turned down. But they liked my writing style and sent such an encouraging 'rejection' that I thought I'd keep an eye on their website with a view to trying again. One day I noticed that they had posted a list of topics that they were seeking authors for and one of those was the 'terrible twos'. Everything just fell into place and I thought, 'That's the book I'm going to write!' So I worked up a proposal and sent it in and luckily they accepted!!

4. What can you tell me about this book?

The book covers all aspects of parenting a two-year-old, from dealing with tantrums and faddy eaters to potty training to sleep issues. Every chapter includes a real life case study. The book doesn't tell parents what they 'should' be doing. Rather it is a collection of ideas and strategies. The book will help parents to understand why their child is behaving the way they are and to explore a range of parenting approaches. I am a qualified early years teacher and a parent, so the book draws on personal experience and professional training.

5. What experiences with your own child contributed to your work on this book?

The whole book was inspired by my trials and tribulations with my son. I hadn't really worried about the terrible twos when he was a baby. But suddenly when he turned two and a half, we were called into nursery to discuss his behaviour. It was a time of huge anxiety. I felt that the fact we were being called in must mean something was very 'wrong'. But in reality it was nothing to worry about at all. Just all the normal stuff, like huge tantrums.

My son was very verbally articulate from a young age and because he could express himself, it was expected that he would have less tantrums than a child who couldn't. Of course, it is not that simple. He wasn't frustrated because he couldn't express himself. He was frustrated because a two-year-old's world isn't always in their control and this can result in overwhelming emotions. I wanted the book to help other parents understand their two-year-old's needs, emotions and behaviour during this developmental phase.

6. Did you ever "test out" anything in your manuscript with your own child before submitting it? What happened?

I didn't test anything out. I was never really comfortable with a lot of the simplistic approaches advocated by parenting gurus, like the 'naughty step,' so I did a lot of research into different approaches. By the time I actually wrote the book, we were over the 'worst' of the terrible twos with our son.

7. How has your work on this book affected you as a parent? Have you come out of this project a little wiser?

I think it made me observe my child more closely, to really pay attention to what he was experiencing rather than look for 'quick fix' solutions. I find it sad that we live in a culture where parents have lost touch with their instincts and rely on TV ' parenting experts' (who don't always have children of their own) to tell us what to do. Writing the book has made me more confident and more able to challenge received wisdom and think for myself. I hope reading it will do the same for other parents.

8. Your other books are fiction. Was it a challenge to work on a nonfiction book? How was it different?

It was refreshing change actually. I think I was ready to try something new. It was much more of a collaborative experience and I enjoyed that. Writing fiction can be very solitary and intense. It was also the first time I wrote a book knowing from the outset that I had a publisher, which was a wonderful feeling. :)

9. What other kind of writing do you do?

Any and all! :) Poetry, short stories, novels, life writing, articles, educational resources, charity publications. I just love to write! :)

I have two 'day jobs', one teaching creative writing with The Open University and one as Deputy Editor of Disability, Pregnancy and Parenthood International journal.

10. What can we expect to see from you in the near future?

I have two short stories appearing in two different anthologies shortly - 'Yasmina's Elbow' in Even More Tonto Short Stories (Tonto Books) and 'Graft' in Mosaic Open Anthology (Bridge House Publishing).

Need2Know have commissioned me to write a second book, Baby's First Year: A Parent's Guide, which will be published in 2011.

Bridge House Publishing: http://bridgehousepublishing.co.uk/

Tonto Books: http://www.tontobooks.co.uk/

Need2Know Books: http://www.need2knowbooks.co.uk/ (direct link to The Terrible Twos here)

Amazon page here

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  • At 1:27 AM , Blogger S D Everington said...

    Thanks so much for interviewing me on your blog, Dawn! And for being kind enough to contribute your case study and quotes to the book.

  • At 6:34 AM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    You're welcome, Shanta! And, thank YOU! I am also grateful that you extended me the opportunity to guest post on your blog.


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