Her young son’s words spurred Mary Anastasiou’s dream of writing

It took her six-year-old son, Lukas, to put into words the dreams that had long occupied Mary Anastasiou. His words were a call to action and the result is three books for young readers as well as a publishing role.

Next month Ms Anastasiou will publish ‘How to Be a Sports Star’, the third in a series of books that show young children how to achieve their dreams. In this case, how to be a star in sports like soccer, football or tennis using engaging images and text designed to encourage a child aged three to eight to not only learn what it takes to be a sports star, but also to enjoy the process of learning through reading.

The “I Want To Be…” series began with “I Want to Be A Rock Star” (followed by “I Want To Be A Movie Star” in 2020) and the catalyst for that was Lukas who had grown up with the stories of his mother created for him.

“I had a lot of stories in my head,” she said Neos Cosmos. And then one day, in 2014, when Lukas was six years old, he asked her: “Mom, when are you going to realize your dream?
“So this (the book) became an opportunity to show him how to achieve your dreams with hard work and determination,” Ms Anastasiou said. She set about writing the book and finding the right illustrator to bring her words to life. For “Rock Star”, she was inspired by her own life experiences and dreams.

As a child, Ms Anastasiou always wanted to be a rock star like her 1980s music heroes. Her music teacher at school thought she had a talent, but it wasn’t something her Greek parents thought. be good to her.

Instead, she directed her creative energies into graphic design and marketing, creating her own business. She brought all of that experience on board to make “I want to be a rock star” a reality.

The three books “How To Be…” by Mary Anastasiou and published by Larrikin House, of which she is the artistic director. Photo: Supplied

Some of the book’s motivation was inspired by popular reality TV shows like The Voice and American Idol. She could see that kids were drawn to them because they brought instant fame to the contestants without them understanding that there are many genres of music and the effort and hard work stars have to put in to be successful.

“Social media has created ‘instafame’ – fame that is created without having any special skill,” Ms Anastasiou said. Through the book, she said, “I wanted kids to look beyond the idea of ​​’stardom’ to be what they wanted to be.”

She spent the next two years going through the process of self-publishing the book, doing her own marketing and promotion.

As a single mother running her own business, it was hard to make books a priority until 2019 when she met James Layton who was starting his own publishing business Larrikin House. The company reprinted “I want to be a rock star”.

Her background in publishing and promoting the book on her own was something Mr. Layton found useful to her company and offered her a role in the company as Creative Director.

“Something in the conversation (with Layton) clicked. I felt that was where I wanted to be and the idea of ​​bringing a new business to life is something very exciting,” she said. declared.
She looks after over 30 authors and illustrators, helping them bring their picture books to life.

“At the moment, Larrikin House is focused on picture books, but we are looking to branch out into junior and mid-level fiction.”

“I want to engage, inspire and empower little people on their journey to becoming big people,” she said.

Ms Anastasiou’s parents came to Australia separately in the 1950s. Her father, Theocharis, was a chief tailor who came from Cyprus when he was in his twenties.
“He was an incredibly hard worker looking after the family. He saw a picture of mum at my aunt’s house (in Melbourne) and asked about her. Maman (Evangelia) who was later brought back from Crete on the Proxenio in 1953,” Ms Anastasiou said.

“My mother’s education was limited, she had gone to school for a year or two before the war broke out and she couldn’t really read and write in Greek. But she taught herself and then learned to read in English too.

“She wanted to do a lot of things and writing became a pleasure that she wanted me to participate in. It was Christmas 2014 when I unveiled a draft cover of ‘I Want to Be A Rock Star’ for Lukas and she was so excited that someone wrote a book in the family. She passed away in early 2015,” Ms Anastasiou said.

As for Lukas, who is now 14, he wants to be a music producer and is studying digital music production. He released his first production on iTunes and Sound Cloud (soundcloud.com/liltavvyofficiall) at Christmas.

“How To Be A Sports Star” and the other books in the series are available on Booktopia or the Larrikin House website (larrikinhouse.com.au).

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