The Mystery of the Sixty Five Roses – Sandi Bowie & S. J. Hutton

Sandi threatened to write something for me so long ago we’d almost both forgotten about it, when she unearthed the thoughts she sent me through the following screed about her book talking about cystic fibrosis.

Why did you write The Mystery of the Sixty Five Roses?

There are several reasons why I wrote The Mystery of the Sixty Five Roses; while the main reason was to allow children to learn a little bit about Cystic Fibrosis (CF) through a fun story, I also wanted to make a connection to children with CF. I was a vivacious reader, yet as a child I never read a book with a character that had CF. Books that include characters that have disabilities, or racial and cultural differences and with no gender bias are important. They help children to feel connected to the world and give them a sense that there is someone out there like them too. These types of books are becoming more common now, which is great – but also I wanted CF to be represented.

Why choose a non traditional publisher?

Although Cystic Fibrosis Western Australia (CFWA) had never published a book before, I knew that it was the right place to take this book – that they would believe in this story and stand by it, whereas a traditional publishing house may not have the same vested interest.  From my first pitch to the final copy coming off the press in December 2012, the journey took six years. Mainly because all parties involved were working on the project part-time, and, for all of us, this was a first book, and there were many challenges to face and skills to be learnt.

What Does Sixty-Five Roses Stand For?

There are many stories about why the rose has been adopted for awareness and fundraising for CF. They all agree on one point, a small child who could not pronounce Cystic Fibrosis, said “sixty-five roses” instead. In Australia, Sixty-Five Roses day is the last Friday in May. By the time,we launched The Mystery of Sixty-Five Roses in 2013, Sixty-Five Roses Day had become even more special for me.  On Sixty-Five Roses Day 2011, I was just weeks away from being another statistic claimed by CF, but an anonymous organ donor saved my life and I received a double lung transplant.

Was the journey to create the eBook version different then the print version?

In March this year I pitched the idea to CFWA that The Mystery of the Sixty-Five Roses could be turned into an eBook. Through both my involvement in the production of the print copy and my subsequent involvement with the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) I had learnt many new skills and felt confident I could complete this project myself.  The eBook project was completed in 6 weeks and released in time for May 29th, which was Sixty-Five Roses Day this year. A vast turnaround time from the first project!

Why do you like to read?

Books have always been a constant in my life. Growing up as the child who was different, there were so many things I couldn’t do because of that funny sounding disease. I was the child who was either lucky or faking it when I had to visit the doctor again. I was the child that had a nasty cough, which is far worse than being accused of having either girl or boy germs. But when I read a book, none of that mattered. Books didn’t judge me. Instead, they gave me adventures, they allowed me to walk in other people’s shoes, made me laugh and cry. Being different, I could have had a lonely childhood – instead, books shaped my life. I don’t see white words on a black page when I read – I see a magical doorway, where anything is possible.

Why do you like to write?

In 37 is Just a Number, Lara, a seven-year-old with CF, told Katarine Welborn that “I don’t get to hang out other kids that have CF because it can make us sick. That’s why I like to read this book. It gives me other people I can relate to.”

As an author, there is no greater honour than knowing your words have a made a difference in the life of a child.

Can you read while you dance the Safety Dance?

When I was eight I proudly informed my mother I could read, eat and sing all at the same time. She advised me that with my unfortunate lack of coordination, I was best advised to stick to one thing at a time. I think this good advice should be applied to reading and the safety dance too!

 

Sandi Bowie is a children’s writer with a zest for multi-coloured shoelaces and other bright objects – the more she can adorn herself with the better.
Sandi lives in Western Australia with her husband, a disgracefully behaved blue heeler called Pepsi, and a ‘To Be Read’ pile of books so high that they frequently threaten to cause a book-a-launch. You can buy her book on Kindle and follow her on Facebook.