Rowena Rae '89 and Elspeth Carter (Rae) '91
WHERE ARE YOU EACH LOCATED IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW?
Rowena: Victoria, BC
Elspeth: Vancouver, BC
WHAT DO YOU EACH DO PROFESSIONALLY?
Rowena: I’m an editor, writer and writing coach with West Coast Editorial Associates, and I teach online courses for Simon Fraser University. I also write science books for children, and most recently, I started a new adventure along with
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my sister: writing and publishing children’s fiction stories under the label Two Read Books.
Elspeth: I’m a teacher with a specialty in working with children who have dyslexia. I
work mainly with elementary school students who need structured support in learning to read, write and spell. Until recently I was the owner–operator of a private learning centre
for kids with dyslexia, and now I teach kids in their schools. A few years ago, I started working with Rowena on the Meg and Greg series of
books for children who are learning to read, and specifically those who have the additional challenge of learning to read with dyslexia.
WHAT ACHIEVEMENT(S) ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
Rowena: Creating our own publishing company. When we set out to write a few stories with a high interest level and low reading level for Elspeth’s students, I had no idea we could or would take this “amusement” so far and turn it into a genuine part of every work day.
Elspeth: I’m most proud of starting and running 44 Sounds, a private learning centre in Vancouver. As part of that journey, I started creating my own materials, like most teachers do. The most significant one was when I started the Meg and Greg book series with Rowena. Now I can have an impact not only on the children I teach, but on any child learning to read.
WHY DID YOU WANT TO WORK TOGETHER?
Rowena: I write and edit nonfiction every day.Much as I love facts and stats, I was intrigued by the idea of learning how to write fiction. Here was a perfect opportunity, and at the same time, the results would be useful for Elspeth and her students. There was also the benefit of finding out more about the English language, because, although I can parse a sentence in my sleep, I didn’t know much about the inner workings of the language: why words are spelled as they are, where they come from, and so on. Elspeth knows this stuff, because it’s the core of how she teaches her students. By writing stories with her, I get to learn some of it too.
Elspeth: Learning how to become an author and publish a book has been a serious learning curve; Rowena was the best person to embark with on this adventure. She judges me on the merit of my ideas and not the speed that I read or the less-than- consistent way that I spell. If I have a vision, Rowena has the skill and discipline to help bring it to life. We both bring different things to this adventure. We have some skills in common and others are complementary. Together we make the perfect package.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU AS BUSINESS PARTNERS?
Writing more books and reaching more kids and families with them. We’re currently writing Meg and Greg Book 2. We’re also celebrating the recent announcement that Meg and Greg Book 1 won a gold medal in the Reading Skills / Literacy category of the 2018 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards.
WHO OR WHAT HAS HAD THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR LIFE TO DATE? Rowena: Living and studying in Quebec, where I became fluent in French and realized how much I love languages in general, and specifically how I enjoy helping people express themselves in written English. Also my children, who led me back into the world of children’s literature and books.
Elspeth: For years when I was a school girl who couldn’t spell or read at the rate of her classmates, English was my enemy. Now I’ve learned so much about the language that it’s become my passion and my profession. My knowledge of the intricacies and history of our spelling system has allowed me to help children unravel the code and enter the world of literacy. So, I guess the English language has been my biggest influence.
WHERE DO YOU HOPE TO BE
10 YEARS FROM NOW?
Working in our separate professions and continuing to collaborate with each other. We hope that Two Read Books and the Meg and Greg series will be helping kids everywhere who are learning to read and spell in English. We also have ideas for reading and spelling games and for a prequel set of stories for preschool-aged kids.