CAROL GORDON EKSTER: Your debut picture book, Babymoon with Candlewick Press came out on April 2, 2019. This beautiful rhyming text, filled with emotion and love, tells of the very special time in a family’s life when a newborn joins the family and it’s time for bonding. I love the last page, “We’ll invite the world in soon, but for now- we’re on our babymoon.” The illustrator, Juana Martinez-Neal depicted that instant deep affection that parents feel for their infants. The expressions are so touching in so many of the page spreads.
This will make such a fabulous baby gift. It’s brilliant! The Silver Unicorn Bookstore store owner, Paul Swydan nailed it on Twitter when he said, “This book really is going to be the new gold standard for baby showers.”
Can you tell us the story behind the story?
HAYLEY BARRETT: Many years ago, I aspired to become a Certified Nurse Midwife because I wanted to help women and families welcome children into the world safely and respectfully. To that end, I began my nursing and midwifery education at The University Of Pennsylvania. As I moved through the program, our family changed—our beautiful daughter Rose arrived—and then our plans changed. I departed the program for other adventures, but midwifery still holds a part of my heart. That’s why I wrote BABYMOON, to reclaim the term’s original, birth-centric, restful meaning. I hope it helps growing families to slow down and take time to fall in love.
CGE: Tell us your journey into becoming a children’s author.
HB: I’ve always been a storyteller, and looking back, I realize that a dear aunt of mine thought I might be a writer. She gave me books and encouraged my intellectual and literary interests. I cherish those early contributions to my confidence and curiosity. That said, I didn’t begin seriously writing until my children were well into their school years. That’s when writing became an important part of my life, and when I fell head-over-heels in love with picture books.
CGE: Do you have a set writing schedule?
HB: I wish I did have a set schedule! I admire those who do, and I’m still working on it. Usually, my work begins with a few words or a title that pop into my mind and stick there, nudging me until I sit down. Then I lose myself in writing, in the word play and puzzle play of the picture book form.
CGE: Has there been anything that has surprised you since your book came into the world? Has your life changed at all now that you are a published children’s author?
HB: I think seeing my book on shelves will be an ongoing surprise. My heart still skips a beat when I spot it in the wild, at a bookstore or in a library.
CGE: What does the future hold for Hayley Barrett?
HB: WHAT MISS MITCHELL SAW, my second title, will be published by Beach Lane Books on September 3rd of this year. It’s narrative nonfiction, and the star-studded illustrations by Diana Sudyka are simply breathtaking.