25th Trillium Award

On Writing, with Jill Bryant

Share |
Jill Bryant

Jill Bryant is a children's author and editor who settled in Kingston with her family five years ago after years of travelling and living abroad. Her new book, Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs, has just been published with Second Story Press as part of their Women's Hall of Fame Series. In today's On Writing interview, Jill tells us about the difficult (and terrifically fun) process of selecting only ten outstanding female entrepreneurs. As it turned out, their stories are so inspiring that Jill found herself feeling new energy for her own work.

Jill launches Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs at Kingston's Novel Idea Bookstore on Wednesday, September 18. Visit our Events page for details.

Open Book:

Tell us about your latest book, Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs.

Jill Bryant:

Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs features extensive profiles of ten entrepreneurs, working in a wide variety of industries. Three of the women are Canadian, four are American, one is from England, one from India, and another is from Tanzania. The book spans over 140 years, beginning with a hair-care business owner from Louisiana and concluding with a clean-water advocate and CEO from Whitby, Ontario. Each profile starts off with a slice-of-life account describing the entrepreneur during a significant moment.


Why was it important for you to write a children's book on the subject of female entrepreneurs at this time?


These days, more than ever, entrepreneurs are hugely important. Young people struggle to find good jobs; university degrees no longer guarantee a secure future. But amidst this challenging climate emerge remarkable success stories about enterprising individuals and innovative business leaders. It?s important to share these stories. I really enjoy writing about brave, creative people who take risks, follow their passion, work hard, and make a difference.

The Women?s Hall of Fame Series promotes women working in fields in which they are underrepresented. It?s clear that women entrepreneurs deserve much more notice and appreciation. They are changing the way we do business — in really positive ways. Through the stories in this book, I hope to encourage more girls (and boys) to aspire to owning their own businesses.


How did you go about selecting the women who would be included in the book? What criteria did you use?


Following the same process I used for the two other books I?ve written for this series, I researched women in North America and elsewhere, devised a long-list of candidates, and then whittled it down. For this book, I wanted to cover many different kinds of entrepreneurs and include some business leaders from further back in history. It became a sort of puzzle, finding candidates to feature from a variety of fields, from different times, and from different cultural backgrounds. The women had to possess great strength of character and be excellent role models. I considered including entrepreneurs whose fields were reasonably accessible to young readers and not too abstract. Some built up their own businesses, while others hold high-profile positions at large companies. The selection process — which was collaborative with editors at Second Story Press — was all about finding real, empowering stories to share with young readers.


What were you most surprised to learn during the writing of Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs?


I set out to inspire children, but was surprised to find myself under the spell of these highly successful and enterprising women, reflecting upon my own career path and goals. It made me want to work harder, focus on what?s important to me and be more brave.


What do you love the most about being a writer in Kingston?


I love connecting with local authors, writers, and editors. I spent several years living abroad, which was fantastic, but I really missed the close-knit Canadian publishing community. When I moved here five years ago, I sought out other children?s authors and co-founded a group called Young Kingston: Southeastern Ontario Writers for Children and Teens. This group has been a great way to share ideas and reach out to readers, librarians and educators in the region.


What are you working on now?


I?m writing a one-act play for children and families that focuses on themes of bullying and child empowerment. My inspiration for the fictional story comes from my gramma?s childhood in rural Ontario. It would be great fun to see it staged.

Jill Bryant is a writer and editor who lives in Kingston, Ontario with her family. She has written many books for children, including Dazzling Women Designers and Amazing Women Athletes (Second Story Press), as well as Backyard Circus (Annick Press). As a child, her entrepreneurial ventures included selling lemonade, peddling handmade greeting cards and producing neighbourhood performances. Find out more about Jill at jillbryant.ca.

For more information about Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs please visit the Second Story Press website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore, online from the publisher or at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

Post new comment

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

Advanced Search