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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Hacket

The Backstory: NAMING CEREMONY

It is my pleasure to welcome another of my Kidlit Clubhouse friends over to #TheBackstory. Today's guest is the incredibly talented, Seina Wedlick. Seina is here to share the beautiful inspiration behind her picture book, NAMING CEREMONY with illustrations by Jenin Mohammed as well as to give us a quick preview of her next release, THE NIGHT MARKET with illustrations by Briana Mukodiri Uchendu. If that wasn't enough, Seina is also offering up a copy of NAMING CEREMONY to one lucky reader who comments on this post.

AH: Welcome to The Backstory and thank you for joining us and sharing the inspiration behind NAMING CEREMONY.


First off, please tell us a little bit about your story.


SW: NAMING CEREMONY is my heart’s story. It’s about rich traditions and the unique bond between sisters while celebrating multigenerational families and Black joy. It is a sweet sibling story about making family traditions your own and is based on the Nigerian tradition (there are so many worldwide variations of this tradition) of ceremoniously naming children a few days after they are born. This book is full of beautiful illustrations adorned with intricate patterns by my wonderful illustrator, Jenin Mohammed. It follows a little girl who is excited to name her baby sister and tries to come up with the perfect name for her. When her family and friends start to arrive with amazing names, she’s nervous that the name she picks won’t be as special.


AH: Seina, what a beautiful tradition to celebrate and to share with families. You are right that the illustrations are just gorgeous as are your words.


AH: What’s the story behind the story? What was your inspiration? Where did the idea come from?


SW: My son was a toddler when my daughter was born, and I remember wondering what he would name his baby sister if he could. Traditionally, babies are named by adults (family, friends, elders in the community, etc) during a naming ceremony and I decided to write this story with a focus on younger children being included in this wonderful tradition that has spanned many generations. 


AH: So amazing! I love when our "what if" wonderings meander their way into ideas for picture books.



AH: How did you approach going from this seed of an idea to what is now NAMING CEREMONY? Was it something undeniable you had to write immediately or did you need to sit with this idea and let it grow for a while before it found its way to the page?


SW: I knew I wanted to write this story and wrote the first draft but then I put it away and sat on it for a while until a friend prodded me about it and mentioned an upcoming picture book pitch event. Once I decided to finish writing this story, I pretty much abandoned the original draft and took a new approach and it really just poured out of me.


AH: We have all received the advice to give our manuscripts time away, but it still always surprises me just how much clarity that gives me each and every time. I am so glad your friend wouldn't leave you alone about this story and that now it is out for all of us to enjoy!





AH: Did NAMING CEREMONY undergo any major changes/revisions from the original version? If so, what led you to make these changes?


SW: Yes, it did! The earlier drafts were much longer. The guests brought food with their presents and there were quite a few more guests. During my revision process, I edited out the array of foods, reduced the number of guests, and changed the name Amira picked for her sister several times. 


AH: It sounds like the heart of your story remained consistent, but some of those additional delicious details got sidelined. Perhaps there will be a new story for them in the future!


Are there any books/authors that you feel influenced your work on?


SW: Not for this story in particular. I really enjoy books like The Wonderful Things You Will Be and Oh, The Places You’ll Go, that celebrate children and all the hopes and dreams parents have for them. I really wanted to write a story that showed all the love and joy the birth of a new baby brings and the loving community that awaits them. I absolutely love books like Thank you, Omu! And Fry Bread which celebrates diverse communities.


AH: Where do you tend to find your inspiration or your sparks for ideas?


SW: I draw inspiration for my stories from my own life and lived experiences. I enjoy writing stories about community and stories that have a lens on culture and tradition. I draw inspiration from my own life and I try to write books that I’d like my children to be able to find on the shelves when they’re looking for books that reflect their mixed heritages. I also enjoy writing fantasy and books with magical realism. I grew up reading the most enchanting stories about magic islands, trees that whispered secrets, talking dolls, fairies and goblins!


AH: Thank you for giving us this peek into what inspires you. I love hearing the mix of lived experiences and then the influence those childhood books have had on you. Just your description of them inspires me to dive into the world of fantasy.


Do you have any upcoming projects or news you would like to share with us?


SW: I’m so excited to share that my next picture book, THE NIGHT MARKET, launches in a few months on September 10th, 2024. This book was so much fun to write. Go on a journey with a young girl as she explores the mesmerizing wonders of a fantastical Nigerian night market, where each stall is an adventure waiting to be discovered! The pages come alive with vibrant illustrations by Briana Mukodiri Uchendu, and is available for pre-order now.


AH: This sounds and looks stunning! This will be heading to the top of my TBR pile and I am anxiously awaiting its release!


Readers, you can preorder THE NIGHT MARKET here, and while we wait for September, please consider marking it as Want to Read on Goodreads, here.


AH: Readers be sure to connect with Seina on her socials and website to

hear all about her latest publishing news.



Also, please consider supporting Seina and NAMING CEREMONY in any way you can.


This could include:

- ordering from your favorite indie

- marking as want to read on Goodreads  

-leaving a review

- making a library request


Seina, thank you so much for sharing all about NAMING CEREMONY. I loved

learning the inside scoop on how this book came to be!

 

GIVEAWAY!


Seina is generously offering one winner a copy of NAMING CEREMONY.


Ways to enter:

1. Retweet my tweet about this blog post. Additional entry for tagging friends!

or

2. Leave a comment on this post.

or

3. Post about this interview on social media and tell me in the comments that you did.


Each method earns an extra entry!

 

About Seina Wedlick


Seina Wedlick is a Nigerian-American author living in California. She believes in supporting early childhood literacy and highlighting the importance of diversity, culture, and traditions which she reflects in her books. When not writing or working on special projects, Seina can be found exploring or spending time on the beach with her husband and children who each have several names.











 

About Andrew Hacket


Andrew Hacket  is a writer, second-grade teacher, and father of three. He is also the author of the upcoming Ollie, the Acorn, and the Mighty Idea,  Curlilocks and the Three Hares, and Hope and the Sea. Andrew recognizes that being a kid is hard and he writes to create ways for kids to see themselves in stories and characters, to accept and overcome their insecurities, or to escape for just a little while through the power of their imaginations. 





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5 comentários


Lori Tecler
Lori Tecler
3 days ago

I love the sound of this! At my school, we talk often about the importance of names and the pride we associate with them. I think our readers would love to read this.

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seschipper
25 de jun.

Another great backstory! Thanks for sharing your journey! Looking forward to reading this book! 📖😊 I have shared on social media!

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Deena Viviani
Deena Viviani
23 de jun.

I love this book! We have it at my library and it is just beautiful.

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Chelsea DiCicco
Chelsea DiCicco
23 de jun.

What a great conversation! Thank you both for sharing.

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Stephanie Owen
Stephanie Owen
23 de jun.

Thank you for sharing your story!

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