Not Just a Princess - From blog to book series

By Hayden Moore 

From a blog being launched just over a year ago to a series of books in production, Not Just a Princess has had a massive rise in popularity.

Sporting thousands of followers online, Not Just a Princess has this week launched a series of children’s books on Kickstarter – which aims to show people the importance of strong, powerful role models in literature for children.


Gavin and Jade

The books focus on character Jade, a pilot, who travels around Wonderville visiting all of her friends in the hope of breaking down the typical damsel-in-distress role in fairy tales by showing that women can be tough, independent and diverse themselves.

The creator of Not Just a Princess, Gavin Leonard, who lives with his wife Shannon, and their two-year-old daughter Jade in Rathcoole, started the blog to document the adventures he goes on with daughter Jade to let her experience different careers – and prove she can be so much more than just a ‘princess’.

Originally from Springfield, Gavin spoke to The Echo about the rapid rise in popularity of Not Just a Princess, the process of writing a self-published series of children’s books, and the journey they have been on so far.

How did Not Just a Princess start?

A year ago, I was working a lot and not getting to spend enough quality time with my wife and daughter. It was a really stressful time and a bout of vertigo sent me to the doctor. It was then I decided things were going to change. I set up Not Just a Princess, mainly to document the early years with Jade and to have some fun. It really focused me on making sure that she would know when she was older that we support her in every choice she will make for herself and that she CAN do anything she wants to do.

Did you expect your blog to gain such traction?

No, I really didn’t. I thought it was just going to be my friends and family that were going to read it, but it wasn’t long before we had readers from all over the world. One of our most popular posts is about the first two months after we had Jade when our Chinese midwife stayed with us – people thought the concept was mad! The idea of having someone stay with you, cook for you, teach you about the cries, show you how to bathe a child really grabbed the attention. It is a custom in China and I’m so glad that we did it. Most of our posts about cultural differences do well with readers.

How do you feel about the typical damsel-in-distress role?

I think that it is done to death. I love the fact that my daughter is stubborn and wants to do everything herself. I think all children are like that, but if we are constantly reading them books where girls are weak and need to be saved, then eventually they start to see themselves in that light. I don’t want this to be the case with my daughter, I want her to always see that she is capable and can figure out a solution for herself. She may need help, but she won’t need saving!

Why did you decide to make a series of books?

In the beginning I was getting illustrations done and making up stories to read to Jade. She would smile and giggle, so I kept it up. One thing led to another and I had a story about her, then another, and another. Then I started to include other characters to keep her entertained and before I knew it I had an army of self-saving princesses. My wife encouraged me to do something more formal – she thought it was a really cool idea and something Jade can enjoy when she is older.

The books are being launched on August 22?

Yes, we are launching the books on a platform called Kickstarter. Kickstarter is a crowd-funding platform that allows people with creative projects get the funding they need and find out whether there is a market for their idea. I’ve backed a lot of these projects myself and I always love to browse Kickstarter before Christmas for innovative presents!

What was the writing process like?

Great fun. At times it was frustrating, but mostly it was enjoyable. Once I had the idea things started to flow – the problem for me was knowing when to stop! Every night when Jade was asleep I’d add a little bit to the story or think about what illustrations would work or research the other careers that I could make up stories about, I love doing it.

How would you say the journey of ‘Not Just a Princess’ has been so far?

It really has been a whirlwind. I never would have thought that in just 14 months we would have such a huge following, be launching a children’s book series and looking at making animated cartoons. Compared to where I was a year ago I’m delighted that we are spending more time together, having fun and seeing where the journey takes us.

You can order the Not Just a Princess book series here on Kickstarter – they hope to receive full funding ASAP to get everyone who backed the online campaign their copy of the books by Christmas.

Also, you can follow the week-to-week adventures on the Not Just a Princess blog

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