Next month Ms Anastasiou will be publishing “How to be a Sports Star”, the third in the series of books that show young children how to achieve their dreams. In this case how to be a star in sports like football, soccer, or tennis using engaging images and text designed to encourage a child of between the ages of three and eight to not only learn what it takes to be a sports star but also to enjoy the process of learning about it through reading.
The “I Want To Be …” series began with “I Want to Be A Rock Star” (followed by “I Want To Be A Movie Star” in 2020) and the catalyst for this was Lukas who had grown up with the stories his mother created for him.
“I had a lot of stories in my head,” she told Neos Kosmos. And then one day, in 2014, when Lukas was six he asked her: “Mum when are you going to make your dream come true?”
“So, it (the book) became an opportunity to show him how to make your dreams come true with hard work and determination,” Ms Anastasiou said. She set about writing the book and finding the right illustrator to bring her words to life. For “Rock Star” she drew on her own life experiences and dreams.
As a child, Ms Anastasiou had always wanted to be a rock star like her 1980s music heroes. Her school music teacher thought she had a talent but it was not something that her Greek parents thought was right for her.
Instead she directed her creative energies into graphic design and marketing, starting her own business in the process. She brought all that experience on board in making “I Want To Be A Rock Star” a reality.
Part of the motivation for the book was inspired by popular TV reality shows like The Voice and American Idol. She could see that children were drawn to them because they provided instant fame for the participants without their understanding that there are many music genres and the effort and work stars go through to achieve success.
“Social media has created ‘instafame’ – fame that is being created without having a special skill,” Ms Anastasiou said. Through the book she said: “I wanted kids to look beyond the idea of ‘fame’ to be what they wanted to be.”
She spent the next two years going through the process of self-publishing the book, carrying out her own marketing and promoting.
As a single parent running her own business it was hard to make the book a priority until,2019, when she met James Layton who was starting his own publishing business Larrikin House. The company re-printed “I Want to be a Rock Star”.
Her experience in publishing and promoting the book on her own was something that Mr Layton felt would be of value to his business and offered her a role in the company as its Creative Director.
“Something in conversation (with Layton) clicked. I felt that this was where I wanted to be and the idea of bringing a new company to life is something that was very exciting,” she said.
She looks after more than 30 authors and illustrators helping them to bring their picture books to life.
“I want to engage, inspire and empower little people on their journey to becoming big people,” she said.
Ms Anastasiou’s parents came separately to Australia in the 1950s. Her father, Theocharis, was a head tailor who came from Cyprus when he was in his 20s.
“He was an incredibly hard worker who looked after the family. He saw a photo of mum at my aunt’s house (in Melbourne) and asked about her. Mum (Evangelia) who was then brought out from Crete on the Proxenio in 1953,” said Ms Anastasiou.
“My mum’s education was limited, she had gone to school for a year or two before the war broke out and she could not really read and write in Greek. But she taught herself and then learnt to read in English too.
“She wanted to do many things and writing become a pleasure of hers that she wanted me to join in with. It was in Christmas 2014 that I unveiled a draft cover of ‘I Want to Be A Rock Star’ for Lukas and she was so excited that someone had written a book in the family. She died in early 2015,” said Ms Anastasiou.
As for Lukas who is now 14, he wants to be a musical producer and is studying digital music production. He has put out his first production on iTunes and Sound Cloud (soundcloud.com/liltavvyofficiall) over Christmas.
“How To Be A Sports Star” and the other books in the series are available through Booktopia or the Larrikin House website (larrikinhouse.com.au).