Sarah Wallace on Writing Emma’s Freckles

I have
always loved mythology, so it is no surprise that I incorporate it into my
writing. I feel a particular connection with Irish and Scottish mythology due
to my family heritage, and the Gaelic myth about how people got their freckles
inspired my picture book, Emma’s Freckles.

It is
such a magical myth, telling how the gods were worried people would forget the
stars (due to the constant cloud and mist!) so they made maps of the stars on
people’s faces. I just love the idea that when all the freckled people come
together they make a map of the universe!

are more than just stories, they are grounded in culture, and communicate
values, fears and aspirations. All myths contain messages; be they warnings, or
messages of hope, acceptance or connectedness that create a shared sense of
belonging. I love that the myths of long ago are still embedded in culture and
language for people all over the world today. In fact, in the Irish language,
the word for freckles literally translates as ‘little stars’. 

A few
years ago, I read a mythology post that prompted my memory of the myth of how
people got their freckles. I found the idea of freckles being maps of the stars
so captivating and it occurred to me that children would be even more amazed. I
realised that if I could tap into that sense of wonder, I could turn it into a magical
children’s book.

When I
first sat down to write this story, Emma as a character popped straight into my
head. She was fun, fearless and freckly and curious about where her freckles
came from. I wrote the first draft of the story fairly quickly, imagining the
beauty of the Irish landscape and the magic of the stars on people’s faces. Whilst
that early draft captured the myth, I soon realised that the story had to be more
about Emma. I had to work at injecting Emma’s personality to make her the core
of the book.

thing I found challenging was balancing Emma’s awareness that her freckles make
her stand out, with ensuring she is confident and happy, and not seen as a
victim. Kids naturally notice difference, so I wanted to be realistic in kids
pointing out her freckles, but also to show that difference can be positive and
beautiful. It was really important to me that at the end of the story, Emma
radiates an inner pride at how special her freckles are, and I hope that kids
will resonate with that feeling.

For a chance to win your very own signed copy of this gorgeous new picture book, enter our KBR Giveaway – now open! Entry is free. Competition closes Saturday 25 March 2023. 

Wallace is a Canberra-based author with a passion for the power of words. She
works in government education policy and spends her spare time writing and
reviewing. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and postgraduate
qualifications in early childhood education and is on the ACT Committee of the
Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She loves reading,
walking, gardening and spending time with her three children and budgie, Minty. 
Freckles is her first picture book, and a second will follow in 2024.

Sarah at: or follow her on
twitter at @sjwallacewrites

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