Author Spotlight: Linda Steinbock
We are excited to feature author Linda Steinbock and her picture book, LOCKDOWN HAIR, illustrated by Alexandra Rusu (March 2021). Be sure to enter to win a free school visit ($250 value) from Linda (see instructions below)!
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my book with your community – it’s an honour to be interviewed!
I am a self-published author born out of my experiences as a humanitarian aid worker. I was born and raised in Singapore and I now live in Switzerland. The inspiration for the book came out of research conducted by the children’s organization I work for, on the effect of Covid-19 on children and families. Children shared with us how they missed loved ones, friends, and going to school, and that they were fearful of their parents going back to work in some cases.
So how did the book come about? Between a deployment in support of Rohingya children in Bangladesh and a 14-day quarantine before my wedding, I challenged myself to a seven-day course on how to write a children’s book. Before I knew it, I had invented Siona's and written her story. I didn’t set out to publish but I loved the story so much and thought it might help children during this challenging time.
Congrats on your picture book Lockdown Hair! Please tell us about the story and what inspired you.
Thank you! At the core of humanitarian work with children is connection and trust. During the coronavirus pandemic we all experienced isolation, and insecurity. I wanted to find a way to use my experience to connect with children to help them process their feelings about the pandemic. Humour is a fantastic way to work through complex emotions and open up conversations between people that might otherwise be very difficult.
Lockdown Hair is a story about a little girl and her experience of the pandemic. Siona is worried about her mum going back to work at her hair salon while a dangerous virus is on the loose, making so many people sick! Siona decides to do something to help her mum cut hair and stay safe at the same time. The story celebrates Siona’s curiosity and creativity to adapt to the “new normal.”
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
It was a very steep learning curve because I had no idea how to self-publish a book! Truthfully, for me writing the story was the easy part. I was determined to learn, and I met amazing people along the way who were willing to share what they knew. I loved every moment of the 7-month process. I sought advice from the experts but I trusted in my visions and intuition at decisive moments.
For example, Alexandra was not the first illustrator I shared my illustration ideas with, but I knew instinctively she would be the illustrator when I saw how she captured the essence of Siona’s character in her watercolour illustrations.
What projects are you working on now?
I actually just translated Lockdown Hair into three more languages, German, French and Spanish to make the book more accessible to children. I’m currently in the process of writing another story starring Siona and her next creative adventure.
What advice would you give to your younger self? Is this the same you'd give to aspiring authors?
I would say don’t let ‘not knowing’ where to start or feeling out of your depth stop you from learning something new. There are so many people out there who may be a little further along who are willing to help. Don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t know something because sooner or later you’ll be that person helping out someone beginning their journey!
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
I think a lot of people might think that because my work may take me to places affected by conflict or natural disasters that I’m brave but put me on a bicycle and you will see the fear of falling in my eyes! It’s irrational but I’m working on it! Courage is not the absence of fear, it doing the thing anyway because you want to.
Where can people find you online? (And how does someone enter your school visit giveaway?)
You can follow me @lindasteinbock on social media or www.lindasteinbock.com where you will find links to purchase Lockdown Hair and where you can download FREE Lockdown Hair resources and an educator’s guide full of fun activities for different age groups.
One of the greatest joys as a new author it feels great to be able to connect with my readers. I am pleased to offer a free virtual author visit (valued at $250) specially for Kidlit 411 readers. If you are a teacher or caregiver interested in this special experience for the children in your life enter here! Submit your entry by the 23rd of December and join me for the Instagram Live where we’ll announce the winner on the 27th of December 6pm Central European Time (CET), followed by an official email.
Linda Steinbock is a humanitarian aid worker of Swedish and Malay Singaporean descent. She attended university in Melbourne, Australia, and began working for an NGO, supporting children and families affected by conflict, typhoons, earthquakes, and tsunamis. Her work also involved research into how children are affected by crisis, never more so than during the Covid-19 pandemic. It was while quarantined in Singapore that Linda came up with the idea of a children's picture book which illustrates how the power of human connection can overcome adversity, and how even distanced relationships can continue to lift us up during these anxious times. Lockdown Hair has been featured in Reedsy Discovery and TimeOut Singapore. Linda loves connecting with readers and making sure they get the most out of their book experience so she has created free downloadable activity sheets and an educator's guide full of fun activities to go alongside Lockdown Hair. You can download them here www.lindasteinbock.com/resources.