Stephanie Rose Bird graduated with honors from Temple University, Tyler School of Art and received her MFA from the University of California at San Diego, where she was a San Diego Opportunity Fellow. She was Assistant Professor at the School of the Art Institute in painting and drawing; a Fulbright Senior Scholar to Australia in the field of anthropology, and she has taught at the Chicago Botanic Garden as well as the Garfield Conservatory. Bird is a professional member of the International Center for Traditional Childbearing (Black Midwives and Healers) and the Herb Research Society of the American Botanical Council. She is also a member of Author’s Guild. Bird is author of Sticks, Stones, Roots and Bones: Hoodoo, Mojo and Conjuring with Herbs, Four Seasons of Mojo: an Herbal Guide to Natural Living, and A Healing Grove: African Tree Remedies and Rituals for Body and Spirit. Bird is a practicing magical herbalist and aromatherapist who lives with her husband, family and animal friends in the Chicago area. You can visit her website at www.stephanierosebird.com.
Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Stephanie. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?
I’ve been blessed. This is my fifth book.
Q: What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?
My first book was Sticks, Stones, Roots and Bones: Hoodoo, Mojo and Conjuring with Herbs, it was published by Llewellyn Worldwide in 2004.
Q: For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?
Re: rejections, who’s counting, LOL. After numerous rejections from mainstream publishers I decided to go with a well-situated niche, independent Midwestern publisher.
Q: How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?
The rejections hurt each time but they also fueled me to keep trying.
Q: When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?
Llewellyn Worldwide. Llewellyn is well known in the New Age/Alternative Spirituality field, VERY, well known. They distribute widely and have tremendous success with marketing and public relations. They got my book in mainstream bookstores!
Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
It felt marvelous, as Billy Crystal would say with his special accent, to be published. I celebrated by going out to dinner and lunch and dinner—well, you get the picture.
Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?
Reached out to friends and associates online to see if I could get an interview or excerpts published.
Q: If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?
I would have gone straight for the niche/independent publishers in my field instead of trying so many mainstream publishers.
Q: Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?
Yes I have published four other books, blessed be! My work has become a balancing act between research-driven hard facts and lyrical writing from personal experience. It used to be much more drawn from personal experience than it is now. In The Big Book of Soul for example, my work has broadened and widened in scope. Now I feel the work is of interest to a much wider audience than when it started.
Q: Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up? What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?
I would slow down and not lock myself into ridiculously slim deadlines. Taking your time makes the work and the experience richer.
Q: What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?
The biggest accomplishment was winning the COVR Award for best general interest book and being invited as guest speaker to important conferences.
Q: If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?
I have several professions. I am a visual artist and a writer as well as being a mother and wife.
Q: Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?
I’m living my dream. I have combined my diverse worlds into one very livable one.
Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?
I see myself writing in my beach house, with my parrot on my shoulder, on one of the Gullah Islands of South Carolina.
Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
Don’t be discouraged. Master the discipline by working hard at writing every day, the rest will come in due time.
Stephanie is presently on a virtual book tour. If you would like to find out where she’ll be appearing next, visit her official tour page here.