By Agatha Rodi
Sotiria Kyrmanidou is a children's author and poet, who lives in Serres, Central Macedonia. She completed her studies in Social Work and for twenty-one years she worked with students with special needs in the Greek education department. Sotiria also trained Undergraduate students at Democritus University of Thrace in Social Work Studies.
Kyrmanidou is also a writer and her exceptional poems and stories have received numerous awards and distinctions as well as exceptional references. She has published five poetry books and fairy tales, related to those with special needs and health issues. She is also a radio producer at “Radio Kivotos” of Holy Metropolis of Serres and Nigrita.
GCT recently sat down with Sotiria to chat with her about her passion for writing for kids with special needs.
How did you start writing/illustrating children’s books?
My job as a social worker is to help others in need and working with disabled people offered me the chance to think about how I could become compassionate and present their issues through a fairy tale.
Can you tell us which books influenced you?
I have been reading since my teen years, I used to keep notes on all the books my teachers referred to me and I was always good at writing. The desire to write came from my observation and interest in supporting people with disabilities and health issues, as well as dealing with a wide range of social situations.
Tell us where your inspiration comes from?
Observation is the number one motivation for me. Then I process the information, I keep notes and work on the book.
How do you ensure a picture book lends itself well to being read aloud?
I guess when a book is written, you have to keep in mind the reader and you need to respect them, with clear meanings and without involving many subjects. Also, illustrations play a vital role and make the text shine.
What about the process of editing and working with the illustrator?
The illustrator has to work alone, to be inspired and probably work with the writer when it is needed.
How do you connect with your little readers and the writing community in general?
I personally connect through friends and my school visits play a significant role too.
What's coming up next for you?
I always write poetry and children's books with specific themes. One of my future books is under contract at the moment, another one is in the illustrator's hands and the inspiration never ends.
Do you have any advice for aspiring picture-book authors?
They have to respect the reader, since writing children's books is considered to be the most difficult genre. Greek schools should invite more writers to present books and discuss with students. I choose to present fairy tales and I am a storyteller while I am on air on the radio. I do care for themes related to prevention, ways to handle them and how to confront them.
You can contact Sotiria on [email protected]