Q&A with Andrea Torrey Balsara Author of Greenbeard the Pirate Pig


Greenbeard the Pirate Pig
by Andrea Torrey Balsara
Genre: Children’s Adventure

Ages 1-7
20 Pages

Review coming soon!

With his ratty first mate, Snug Rumkin, Greenbeard sets sail on THE GOLDEN LETTUCE, determined to become a proper pirate! — Greenbeard the Pirate Pig by @torreybalsara 3/7

Q&A with Andrea Torrey Balsara

What inspired you to write this book?

I write for all ages, but Greenbeard the Pirate Pig is a picture book for children. I got the idea from my guinea pigs, Piggy and Petunia. Piggy was a gentleman and adored Petunia. Petunia, on the other paw, was a bit of a terror. When I would show up with lettuce, Petunia would hip-check the long-suffering Piggy out of the way and rip the lettuce from my hands, gulping it down so quickly her beard would drip with green juice. I started calling her “Greenbeard” after “Blackbeard” the pirate, and voila, the idea came to me: a guinea pig who becomes a pirate. I took Piggy’s sweet disposition and Petunia’s love for lettuce and came up with a character that I love. I am now in the middle of illustrating book 2.

If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?

It would be called, “Essence of Salt Sea,” as the scent of the salt sea is what entices Greenbeard to leave his garden of lettuce and carrots and take to the seven seas.

What is your favorite part of this book and why?

I kind of love the whole book. Is that wrong of me to say? What I especially love though, is all of the AARrrrs and Avasts I get to do when I present the story at schools. I have a little felt pirate hat that I had made and when I put that on, things get silly! I get out my guitar at the end and we all sing Greenbeard’s pirate shanty together. I don’t know who has more fun, the kids or me!!!

I also love that he is a guinea pig. There is nothing more outlandish, more intrinsically adorable, than a guinea pig. They have a chunky lower lip, cute teeth, and adorable ears. And their noses. Don’t get me started on their noses…

What is your writing process? 

I like to have the theme of the story in my head, the question I am exploring, maybe a few incidents mapped out, and where I want the book to end. Everything else that happens in between the beginning and the end is where the creativity happens for me. I tried to do one of those, “outline your book in 30 days!” things, and all it did was extinguish any joy I had in the process. Blah! Now, I know to leave myself enough freedom for the characters themselves to come to life, and to help write it.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I tend to let stories simmer if they aren’t coming to me and I’ll work on something else. As I let the idea simmer and settle into itself, I will compile a playlist that will be the book’s “soundtrack.” Building the soundtrack helps me think about the different elements I will want to explore when I’m writing the story.

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?

I have a clear memory of holding a picture book in my hands when I was around 6 years-old, and thinking to myself, “Oh! If I could only make pictures like these when I’m a grown up!” The love of art was there for me from the start. Being an “author,” though? That came in through the back door, as a means to an end to have books to illustrate. 

When I threw my hat in the ring and began sending my work out, however, the only positive response I got was for my writing. So, I wrote. No one was more surprised than I was when, lo and behold, I realized I loved writing just as much as illustrating. I now do both and write/illustrate for small children all the way up to young adults. Writing feels like sculpting with words, and I am definitely a word-nerd. I particularly love words that begin with “be.” Bequeath. Beseech. Besmirch (a favourite), unbeknownst, befuddle, bestir…I could go on, but I will spare you from diving too deep into my bedeviling word-nerdery.   

What is something unique/quirky about you?

I practice energy medicine. I have had some ongoing health issues and it got to be too much. I looked into all sorts of healing modalities and came across something I’d never heard of before. I took an intensive course and do the energy training daily. It feels like magic to me, as I’m getting really good at sensing what is “off” and being able to rebalance everything. I am fortunate that my family is supportive of my efforts to heal myself, and don’t bat an eye when they walk into the room and find me swirling the air with my hands, looking like an extra in a Harry Potter movie.

What are you passionate about these days?

I am passionate about a lot of things. I struggled a LOT as a young person and so one of the things I try to do with my writing/illustrating and school presentations is to share a message of empowerment. We are deluged with messages that we aren’t good enough, and seeking outside validation becomes an addiction. I know all about that, having come through an eating disorder and mental health issues. I share my experiences pretty openly, even though there is still a stigma around mental health, because if the adults who’ve been in the trenches, climbed out and survived, are silent, how on earth are young people supposed to know they can climb out too? If those of us who know the darkness of depression and despair don’t speak out, the young people who have no track record of getting through hard times will think there is nothing beyond the dark moment they are in. In reality, those hard times, excruciatingly hard times, become our teachers. They guide us to our true selves and teach us to seek light. If you look at the people in history who we revere as the wisest, the kindliest, they have always been people who have suffered the most but have risen above their suffering to serve others. 

I am also passionate about sharing the message of Unity in Diversity. We are one people on one planet that is getting “smaller” every day. As a member of the Baha’i Faith, sharing the message of unity is of primary importance to me.  Prejudice of any kind, whether racial, ethnic, religious, gender-based, political or national is truly a scourge. It is a darkness that has always been the precursor to war. The good thing is that it only takes one candle to dispel the darkness. Love is stronger than hate. There is so much power, joy, and light from truly seeing each other as brothers and sisters in one human family. I believe with all my heart that unity is the only way we will find world peace, and that world peace is not only possible, but inevitable. 

Greenbeard the Pirate Pig
by Andrea Torrey Balsara
Genre: Children’s Adventure

Ahoy, my Piggywinkles! Sail with GREENBEARD THE PIRATE PIG as he sails the Seven Seas in search of ADVENTURE! With his ratty first mate, Snug Rumkin, Greenbeard sets sail on THE GOLDEN LETTUCE, determined to become a proper pirate!

****Click here for FREE colouring pages! ****

Add to Goodreads * Amazon * Website

SAVE A FOX, is dedicated to the wellbeing of rescued fur foxes, these beautiful creatures are suffering at fur farms. Most of the farmed foxes at SaveAFox are handed to them because they are sick, injured, or rejected, and therefore a liability or of no value to a fur farmer. Mikayla Raines, founder / rescuer and her wonderful team are passionate about what they do and devoted to making a difference. Their purpose is reflected in SaveAFox’s Mission Statement:
“To rescue and provide forever homes for captive-born, non-releasable wildlife.”

Balsara Boutique will be donating a % of proceeds raised from the Balsara fox series of pieces to Save A Fox. https://www.balsaraboutique.com/shop-collections

Andrea Torrey Balsara is a Canadian children’s author and illustrator who writes and illustrates for ages 3 and up. She is involved with children’s empowerment, and works to create stories that not only make children laugh, but makes them think. Her latest illustrated book, GREENBEARD THE PIRATE PIG , is a whimsical adventure about a guinea pig with a dream.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

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