Author Q&A with Alison McGregor

Author Q&A with Alison McGregor

Alison McGregor is the author of the award-winning Growing Up Antoinette picture book series for young readers. Hailing from Innisfil, Ontario, Canada, Alison chose to see the world anew from her mother’s perspective and began her writing journey with her book series regaling her mother’s world adventures growing up.  If she couldn’t physically travel during multiple pandemic lockdowns, then she would write her way to these exotic places.  Her second book in the series, Antoinette and the Story of the Invisible Giraffes, was just released and is available now.

You are an author, but is it your day job? Being an author and creating the Growing Up Antoinette series is a passion project but I mom two crazy toddlers full time as well as work in communications full time. The days are busy!

Did you always want to be an author? Ever since I could write words, I knew this is what I wanted to do in some way, shape, or form.  I’m so lucky to be doing what I’m doing now.

What is your most recent book and what inspired you to write it? The most recent book in my series is called Antoinette and the Story of the Invisible Giraffes.  The inspiration behind it is my mum! It’s based on her real-life adventures growing up all over the world and they’re all stranger than fiction.  I sometimes wonder if I’m imaginative enough to have come up with some of the adventures she’s had.  This book in particular is about her first trip to Tanzania when her family moved there. On her journey, she may (or may not) have discovered invisible giraffes.  You’ll have to read to find out!

How do you hope your book uplifts those who read it? I hope this book inspires young readers to be curious about the world around them.   If you always stay curious, you’ll always find an adventure knocking at your door.

What are you most excited about with this book? I’m most excited to share with the world how cool my mum is.  All books in my series are true tales from her upbringing in these interesting, far-flung corners of the world. Completely different from my upbringing – I didn’t have very many elephants running around in my backyard in my childhood!

How did writing a book help your career take off? Writing the first book in my series helped me gain some sense of control and self during the early days of the pandemic. That, to me, was immensely satisfying.  I think since this series started off as a work from the heart really carried through to the audience and readers. And thankfully, the books have been a success because of that and now I have the momentum to continue.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to succeed in your professional industry? You need to define what success looks like to you first and foremost.  You should be writing to please one person above all: yourself.  And if you do that, then I would consider that a great success.

How do you handle setbacks and criticism? Deep breaths!  I try my best to take everything in stride and put it into perspective.  Criticism at its core is meant to benefit you by highlighting areas to improve. I think I would be in big trouble in my writing career if I thought there was nowhere for me to improve.  I am always looking to hone my craft, so criticism is crucial to do so. Surviving a pandemic with two very young children has helped me to accept what has been dealt to me and move forward as best I can.  Two toddlers at home mean you live with two constant knee-level critics. A small silver lining from the last few years is the lesson that the only way forward is through. And you could always improve on your crust-removing technique for your PB & J sandwiches. Or so I’m told.

Being an author today is like running a business. How do you manage all your publicity, social media and keep your engagement up with readers? Lots of coffee!  It’s demanding work and I always want to do my best at it, but if I’m being honest, I often fall short of what I would like to do. Sometimes I have to prioritize dirty diapers and tending to scraped knees.  And that’s ok! They don’t kiss themselves better, you know?  I’m in awe of how some people make it look so effortless because I know how much work goes into well-crafted posts.

How do you hold yourself accountable and achieve the goals that you set forth? I have a notebook filled with checklists and calendar reminders galore on my phone to hold myself accountable for the tasks I wish to complete.  I find lists soothing and just so satisfying to finish. It really works for me. Almost like the Home Edit effect for my brain.

How do you structure your day and make time for writing? I have to block off time in my calendar to do so.  Usually, at the end of the day a few nights a week when I’m most relaxed and have the most peace and quiet in the house.

What do you find most fulfilling in the career that you’ve chosen? It is incredibly gratifying to do something I love, creating stories, and see it come together with the illustrations, bound in hardcover.  To hold my work in my hands and then be able to share it with my daughter is just next level.  Sometimes she falls asleep with the book at night as a way to stay close to her granny, my mum, and I could just float away from all the warm and fuzzies that gives me.

What book uplifts you? To Kill a Mockingbird always restores my faith in humanity.  Listening to the Sissy Spacek narrate on Audible while out for a walk?  Yes, please.

Anything else you’d like to share with your readers? I’m excited to share even more of my mum’s wild stories with the world.  I love hearing from fans so don’t be shy and get in touch!

You can learn more about Alison and connect with her on Instragram @thealisonmcgregor and her website.

Interview and Images Courtesy of Smith Publicity Inc.

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