Ahwatukee resident Victoria Garrison is mastering the world of books from both the creative and the business end.
The 2003 Mountain Pointe High School grad has just published her fourth book and is looking for authors who want to use her newly formed publishing company as well.
With her bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Arizona and a master’s from Arizona State, Garrison’s is a full-time educator. She spent several years teaching before going into school administration as curriculum director at Paideia Academy South Phoenix.
One of three children of Dr. Jerome and Cheryl Garrison of Ahwatukee, she writes books for young readers.
“My audience is young people and those who work with young people,” she said. Her two chapter books are “Bean,” published in 2008, and “Montgomery’s Joy,” published in 2012. She also self-published an anti-bullying curriculum titled “Sarah’s Clubhouse.”
Her latest book is a devotional for girls 8-12 years old called “Bea Talk: The Official Manual on the Uniquely Magnificent Journey of Girlhood.”
“I wrote the book because I see that many young girls and parents of young girls are seeking guidance about how to become a positive, powerful, successful young lady,” Garrison said. “The book features Bea, a young girl who serves as a girl guide who encourages readers throughout the book. Each devotional begins with a scripture followed by some girl talk featuring Bea, and then a journal page for readers to reflect on what they read.”
Garrison’s love of writing is almost as old as she is.
As a Kyrene Las Lomas Elementary student, she recalled, “I spent hours writing stories and filling notebook pages with my imagination. My family allowed this passion to grow from an early age, giving me space and resources to hone this craft.”
Her first book, about a figure skater on her way to the Olympics, was written in sixth grade.
“I didn’t know anything about figure skating or the Olympics, but I read books about it and did my own research,” she said, adding she was inspired by the competition between Michelle Kwan and Tara Lipinski.
“I loved the process of creating these worlds that depended on me to come to life on page. It was fun. I took a creative writing class my senior year at Mountain Pointe with Mrs. Kadavy, and I was voted most likely to write children’s books,” Garrison said.
Though she tries to write daily, “I don’t put a lot of pressure on myself. That takes all the fun out of it.”
But now she has added the pressure of a business to her life, partly because “I miss the way publishing used to be.”
Before starting her company, Walk Together Children, she had learned a lot about the industry just by submitting her work to various publishing houses.
“So much about the publishing world has changed since then. Some of those changes are good and show progress. But some of the changes in the way publishing works these days creates roadblocks for authors who are still looking for a platform,” she said.
“They have something to say, they have a story to tell, and they have nowhere to say it and no one to read it. I’m hoping to find some innovative ways to mix a little of the old with the new and create a space for people to be artists again, and for readers to be introduced to work they may not otherwise be able to access.”
The name of her company comes from a spiritual that says, “Walk together children, don’t you get weary. Talk together children, don’t you get weary. There’s a great camp meeting in the promised land.”
Garrison explains: “So, Walk Together Children is an homage to those who came before me, but it also represents the spiritual journey of artistry. While we do not only publish religious materials, there is definitely a strong emphasis on Christian living and spiritual formation.”
And she’s looking for those voices who have been searching for a platform.
“As a start-up, I am going to build slowly with a very small contingent of writers, but I hope to expand as things grow and develop with the company,” she said, adding she will be doing both e-publishing as well as hard-copy printing.
She acknowledges it’s not an easy task.
“There’s a lot that goes into book production. You need an avenue for editing, formatting, printing, distributing. I used a platform that many self-publishers use for getting these types of things done. As I expand and accept work from other authors, the business of bringing a book into production will likely get even more complicated and require additional resources. It is to be expected for a small press start-up,” she said.
Garrison sees her industry and even her literary avocation as a challenge.
“I think the idea that anyone can be published is a double-edged sword. It’s a wonderful opportunity because more people are able to get their ideas out there through e-publishing, blogging, and creating a platform and voice for themselves online. But it also means that the idea of publishing and being an author has changed very much.”
She feels that even “reading and being a reader have also changed” as more people ignore bookstores for reading online.
“For book lovers like me who like to read and write books you hold in your hands,” she said, “it makes for a difficult and sometimes uncomfortable reality. We have to adjust to the industry and find ways to get books into people’s hands virtually. In my opinion, this is simultaneously a challenge and an opportunity.”