Updated: 4 days ago
Writer Name: Sharna Carter
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Years of Experience: 5
Book: Watermelon Pip
Favorite food: Fajitas
Writing tip for fellow writers: Connect with other writers! I have online and ‘real life’ writing friends and we regularly critique each other’s work or simply check-in and motivate each other.
Sharna Carter is a Melbourne, Australia-based children’s author and mother, with a background in performing arts and teaching.
Sharna has a number of short stories that have been published in anthologies. Watermelon Pip is her first children's picture book.
Sharna conducts author visits and is passionate about early literacy. Her stories encourage laughter, reflection and self-belief.
How did you get started in writing?
I started writing for children shortly after my son was born. I read to him every day and fell in love with picture books. When I started having my own ideas, I was keen to learn more, so I enrolled in a few writing courses, connected with other writers and here I am!
What was the inspiration behind your book Watermelon Pip?
One day, we were at the park with a group of children and I had packed a container of watermelon for everyone to share.
It was one of the glorious hot days, and watermelon proved to be a big hit because they gobbled the lot!
What caught my attention though was the response from my children, which was, "We can just get more at the shops, right?" You see, I’ve noticed there’s a general attitude that "the shops" have whatever we need, when we need it.
This moment in the park sparked the idea for the story, and I happen to have a sassy but sweet niece called Pip who was the inspiration for my lead character.
Tell us about the Watermelon Pip story.
Watermelon is Pip’s favorite food in the whole wide world. She loves its bright pink color, the taste of its sweet, crunchy flesh, and that it has its very own handle when cut into triangles.
Pip loves watermelon so much that she keeps it all to herself; she doesn't like to share it with anyone.
But when her watermelon supply dries up, Pip has to learn to improvise, and then she has to learn to share the fruits of her labor.
What are your goals with the book?
My goal with this book is to teach children about sustainability with an easy to understand (and delicious) metaphor.
It is also to empower children to ask questions about where their food comes from and how they might make sure there is enough for everyone, always.
What was the most difficult thing you overcame writing your book?
I had about five different endings to this story and none of them felt quite right.
Then, just before I submitted my story to Ethicool Books, I was brainstorming with a writing friend and we finally worked it out.
That "ah-ha!" moment was pretty magical, and the ending was one of the reasons Watermelon Pip was chosen for publication.
What has been the most rewarding part of writing Watermelon Pip?
The most rewarding part has been the positive response from children and educators. It’s been heartwarming to hear that children have connected with the story and are asking for it to be read again and again.
I’ve also enjoyed seeing how educators have used Watermelon Pip as a springboard for discussions and learning in the classroom.
After reading the story, one kindergarten class had children using a melon baller, then threading the watermelon balls onto skewers, to develop fine-motor skills.
Others have planted seeds in the garden or simply encouraged children to try a new fruit. How cool is that?
What’s your advice for writers interested in writing a mission-based book?
To remember that children are smart! Try and tell your story and communicate your message without being overly didactic. If you can, you stand a better chance at being published, but more importantly, you’re more likely to spark curiosity and connect with your audience.
Do you have plans for similar books in the future?
I have quite a few picture books just waiting to be picked up for publication. Some are traditional with strong themes and others are just for fun.
I am currently working on another food-themed story, but this one is written in rhyme, is a little bit silly, and involves different types of soup!
Tell us about your short stories.
I have a selection of short stories and poems published in two anthologies for children titled, "It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas," and "Spooktacular Stories: Thrilling Tales for Brave Kids."
These can be found on Amazon, and the best part is, the proceeds from these go towards charity initiatives.
Anything else you’d like to add about being a writer who loves food, or being a writer in general?
Don’t give up! I sent over a hundred picture book submissions before I got my first contract.
It is hard work, but you have to be brave and keep going.
And remember, when rejections hit your inbox, chocolate always helps.