Interview with Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky


About the Author: “I’ve always been a passionate reader and animal lover. As a result, my children grew up in a house full of books and cats! I rediscovered my love of picture books reading to my children and it is the realization of a dream to now write for other children. I spent my childhood years on the Canadian prairies but have lived in Montreal for many years, raising my family and working at McGill University.  Writing for children is both a pleasure and privilege that I plan to enjoy for as long as possible!” (Bio sent by the author.)

Find Dianna Wilson on the following platform:

Thank you to Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky for taking the time to do an interview with us at Pine Reads! Her debut picture book James’ Reading Rescue is out now from Clavis Publishing, and be sure to check out our review of James’ Reading Rescue here!

Sohi Kang & Erika Brittain: First of all, thank you for taking the time to talk with us about your picture book, and congratulations on your author debut! James’ Reading Rescue released October 5th, and we absolutely loved reading it. What are your thoughts on finally having your first book out in the world?

Dianna Wilson-Sirkovsky: I am so thrilled to have a book out in the world and particularly this story. JRR is the fictionalized telling of a true story. When I first read it on the internet, I just knew this was the perfect picture book. It is a touching and empowering story that will speak to all children, whether they struggle with a particular challenge or not. To say I’m delighted would be an understatement!

SK & EB: In the story, the main character James has to miss recess to practice his reading skills. Why is struggling with reading a conflict that you wanted to focus on?

DWS: It’s not that I particularly decided to focus on struggles with reading, but that I came across this particular story. Reading issues speak to all generations and a love of animals is common with children. The two together seemed the perfect marriage. My son needed help with reading in grade 1 while my daughter was a passionate reader. For both reasons, reading was important in our house! This, along with the fact that we had nine rescue cats, just seemed to make this story the perfect choice for my first picture book.

SK & EB: Another (adorable!) part of your story is adopting rescue cats. Both of us are cat-lovers, so we wanted to ask, why did you choose to have James overcome his struggles with reading in an animal shelter?

DWS: Reading to rescue cats was part of the real story. It deeply appealed to me as my family and I are great animal lovers and firmly believe in promoting the rescue and adoption of animals in need. We all share our lives with rescue cats and I fundraise for a cat rescue in my community.

SK & EB: In addition to growing a greater confidence in reading and appreciating animal shelters, what are some other takeaways that you hope young readers might leave with?

DWS: I just love a win-win story, and that is really what JRR is. I would love the take away messages here to be that kindness is always its own reward and that sharing your life with an animal brings companionship and unconditional love. Pets are family. Just as an aside, I deliberately asked that Ghost be a black cat as this is the color least adopted in both cats and dogs – but they are as loving and special as all the other colors. Maybe even more so!

SK & EB: Let’s talk about the process of publishing a picture book. Did anything surprise you? Is there anything you wish you knew before starting the publishing process?

DWS: There is SO MUCH to know about creating and publishing picture books! I’m glad I didn’t know just how much I didn’t know when I set out on this adventure. I have learned so many valuable things and so appreciate the supportive and helpful kidlit world that I’ve become part of.

SK & EB: If you have a physical copy of your book, what was it like seeing it for the first time?

DWS: To date, I have not received the English copy of JRR. I do have copies in Dutch, Indonesian and Slovenian and what an amazing day it was when the first copy arrived, unexpected, at my house! I found out last week that it will also be published in Korean, so that’s pretty special. But I cannot wait to see the English book!

SK & EB: Earlier this year, you tweeted about a portion of your book sale proceeds going to the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation. Can you tell us more about this foundation?

DWS:  Regarding the Foundation, I only know what is available in the public domain. But what an exciting program – to supply books to elementary schools in disadvantaged Canadian communities! I have always been an avid reader and have no greater wish than to spread this love of reading along to other children. Books open the world. Thinking of JRR on these school library shelves fills my heart with joy.

SK & EB: Now looking to the future, what’s next for you? Do you have any new writing projects coming up?

DWS: I always wanted to write and I’m so excited to be at this point in my life. I have another picture book coming out with Clavis next summer and several other stories to submit to publishers in the coming months. And I still have so much to learn and read myself!

PRR Writers, Sohi Kang & Erika Brittain