Ky Garvey is a mother to two boys who are both diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder and ADHD. Through her experiences with her boys, she has been inspired to write fun and engaging stories that turn challenges into triumphs. Ky aims to share supportive, inclusive and empowering stories for children.
Ky also writes and hosts the podcast Totally Lit! a monthly podcast celebrating reading, writing and creating literature. The podcast features writers, illustrators and all types of creators of books and stories.
What’s the story behind your debut picture book Easy Peasy? How did it come about? I sat down at my laptop, and I closed my eyes. I took a deep breath and tried to reconnect with little Kylie. What were the things that she really loved when she was a little girl? Then I remembered how much I loved to roller skate and the story started to take shape from there. I always love to include things from my real life in my stories, so Ruby sleeping with her roller skates was inspired by my son sleeping with his skateboard when he was a little guy. Ruby going to the roller rink with her dad was inspired by my dad taking me to the roller rink on a Saturday morning. It was something we could do together that we both enjoyed and kept us fit and healthy too.
What is about writing for children that draws you to work in that genre? I loved to read from a very young age, and I hope to write engaging and inclusive stories for those children out there just like me that love adventure and imagination. Also writing for kids is so much fun!
Where do you find the inspiration for your stories? Usually, I am inspired by my family and loved ones or things that have happened in my life. I have some other stories on inclusion and diversity I’d love to get published which are inspired by my sons’ experiences growing up with ASD and ADHD.
Walk us through your creative process. Once you have a story idea, what’s your next step? As soon as I have an idea, I write it down. I’m a bit of a pantser – that is, a writer who doesn’t plot or plan. I just write it all down in one go. Once the story is written, then I go back and look at the plotting and planning. I then paginate it, which means breaking up the story and sentences up into the pages where I think they should belong. This also helps me visualise where the illustrator will be putting their illustrations. If you have sentences in a picture book that an Illustrator can’t draw a picture of, it probably means the sentence is unnecessary. Then I ask my husband to read it. My greatest critiquer and my greatest supporter. After I get his feedback, it may go through several drafts and then I will reach out to an editor to help me polish it to a point that it ready for submission.
How has your childhood influenced the writer you’ve become? I’ve been very lucky to have had an adventurous childhood and have lived in interesting places in North Queensland and on Christmas Island for a brief time. I am hoping some of my future manuscripts will contain some of my childhood adventures. I was also a voracious reader as a child, and I believe this prepared me to be the writer I am today. Every year for my birthday my mum would give me a hardcover book as a present. This gave me the chance to read all the classics and lots of other amazing books. I am very grateful to my mum for encouraging my love of reading.
How closely were you involved in the creation of the illustrations for Easy Peasy? The very talented Amy Calautti did the illustrations for Easy Peasy. The only way I was involved was by inspiring Amy with my story. She did all the wonderful illustrations; I was so inspired by how beautiful they were. She really brought my words to life, and I would be very proud for her to illustrate my books if we ever had the opportunity to work together again.
Are they what you envisioned for this story? Amy’s illustrations were beyond my expectations. Her work really made me fall in love with Easy Peasy on another level. It is one thing to see your words in print but then to see someone create such beautiful illustrations with such love and care, it really is beyond my wildest dreams. Even special little touches like the lovely little duck Amy has illustrated throughout the book just made the book just that much more amazing.
What do you hope readers will take away from this book? I hope readers see that there are many things we do in life that we don’t get right the first time and that’s OK. When we are learning something new it is OK to admit that we might need some help and that the people around us who love us are there to teach us and guide us. I also hope that readers see how much fun there can be in life if you persevere and keep trying even when it seems too hard.
Do you experience ‘writer’s block’ and if so, how do you overcome it? I do sometimes feel like I don’t have any ideas. I’m not sure if it is really writer’s block, or more just the feeling that I don’t have an idea that someone else would want to read. Then other days my head is popping with so many ideas that I don’t know how I would find time to write all the stories in one lifetime. I think the key is to sit at your laptop and just write to overcome ‘writer’s block’.
What are you working on at the moment? I’m working on two stories about ASD and also one on Australian animals. I also am bouncing around an idea for an early chapter book about a little girl who has the most unlikely adventures and always accidentally comes out on top.
What’s the best aspect of your creative life? I love writing so that is the best aspect. But also meeting and talking to other talented and interesting authors. It is always very inspiring to have a great chat with another creative.
—the worst? Rejection. It’s hard when you are submitting work and it doesn’t get accepted. But it is part of the process and sometimes it just means you need to go back to your manuscript and write better. Other times it is just not the right time for your story to be out in the world. Learning patience is a big part of becoming a writer.
How important is social media to you as an author? Social media is a great way to connect with your readers and fellow authors. There are times though where I get FOMO or feel a bit down from the socials. I think it is important to sometimes give yourself a break from social media and connect with people at a more human level. I do always love to get an email or DM from a Totally Lit podcast listener or someone who likes a piece of my writing though and I always try to write back as soon as I can.
What’s the best advice you were ever given? Keep writing.
What’s your top tip for aspiring authors? Don’t give up! Writing is hard and getting published is hard. But we can do hard things. And ask advice from those who are excelling in their speciality. I believe that you should surround yourself with the people you aspire to be like. So, if you ask your mum if she likes your writing she will always say yes because she loves you. But if you ask a seasoned author or editor who knows their stuff, they will give you an honest critique on your work. It might sting initially but this is the way to make your work better.
In three words, how would you describe your writing? Adventurous, Curious, Resilient.
If you had the chance to spend an hour with any writer of your choice, living or dead, who would it be and what would you most like them to tell you about living a writing life? I would love to spend an hour with Agatha Christie. I’d love to find out where she got all her ideas and inspiration from and the continued motivation to be so prolific in her writing. I’d also like to tell her good on her for restarting her life after her divorce and finding a wonderful archaeologist husband to love and live a life of adventure with.
Now for a little light relief – If you were going to be stuck in a stalled lift for several hours who would you choose to share the experience with you and why? It’s not so trendy to love Friends these days, however I am a ’90s chick, so I would choose Chandler from Friends, the way he was stuck in the ATM cubicle with Jill Goodacre, the super model. I don’t think I would have the same effect on him as a supermodel, but he would definitely give me a laugh to pass the time until we are rescued from the lift. Maybe even offer me some gum. ‘Could he BE more funny?’
Ruby loves her shiny new red roller skates. She’s never roller skated before, but she’s sure it will be easy peasy! So when her dad offers to help her learn to skate, Ruby says no. But things don’t go as planned…
Embracing themes of independence, perseverance, and family relationships, this is a fun, engaging story for children learning how to do something for the first time.
Buy the book here.
Teachers’ notes are to be found here