In Music All Around, Sofia leaves the singing waves and whispering sand of her seaside home to visit her grandparents, knowing that the sounds of the forest await her. Amongst the dark pines and the majestic oaks, she discovers the music of the night, the songs of a fox, an owl, and a wolf. Like Sofia, the story’s author, Gema Sirvent, believes you can hear music in everything if you stop to listen. What inspired you to write Music All Around? It was actually my daughter, Sophia, who inspired me. We live very close to the sea and when she was younger, she would play in the sun and hum these songs she invented. She was around two and didn’t really speak, but she would spend all day humming to herself while she was painting, playing, etc. I loved her way of expressing herself and showing how she was feeling. If she was humming, she was happy. It made me think about how sounds can transmit sensations and how sounds and music can transport you to other places, or to a past memory. All of these experiences came together to give shape to the story in my head. Normally you’re an editor! What was it like to switch sides and be the author? Interesting question. It’s almost like having a split personality or something, I think I enjoy being an editor, as I admire all the authors and illustrators. I work with so much. It’s an absolute privilege to work with such talent. So when I switched sides, I’m a ball of nerves. I feel so insecure. And I question myself all the time, but I’m lucky in that I can always find a fellow editor to guide me in the creative process. I think it’s always important to have an editor overseeing everything: somebody involved, but essentially on the outside looking in. Music All Around includes a beautifully illustrated story as well as a theme song. Did you start with the story or the song? It all started with a tune in my head. This melody was deeply connected to nature and the importance of the sounds all around us that give us a feeling of home. Music is very important in my life. It’s always with me. I listen to music all the time. I also love movies and I think all of us have a theme song for our lives. Of course not being a composer myself, I contacted one, an extraordinary musician called Cristóbal López Gándara, who with my words and the beautiful scenes suggested by Lucía Cobo was able to capture all the sensations that we wanted to transmit on the beautiful soundtrack that accompanies the book. Listening to the sounds of places is a key theme in the story. Do you listen for the unique sounds of places when you travel? I’m very receptive to the sounds of places. If I close my eyes, I can remember the sound of places I’ve been to. For example, uh, the song of a dove in the mornings always reminds me of Claygate, a beautiful village in England. Even though I hear them here in Spain, I’m transported back to those misty English mornings. Sometimes songs I’ve heard on trips transport me back in space and time. The soundscape of places is like a time machine for our memories. I love the sounds of the mountains and the countryside, but I’m a sea person. I was born next to the Mediterranean sea and now I live on its shores. I feel like the sea is somehow a part of me. When I’m away from it for any length of time, I really miss it. Music All Around is about music, but there’s also a message about the importance of appreciating nature. Was that an important aspect of the story too? Absolutely. Nature is so full of richness and life. I wanted to reflect on the importance and the value of our natural spaces in the story, and also on how our perception of things influences us. Being in nature takes us away from the hustle and bustle of towns and cities and allows us to connect with ourselves. We need to conserve the natural world, and I believe it’s important to reflect on its beauty in the book. Thanks to Lucía’s beautiful illustrations, I believe we transmit it. What message would you like young readers to take away from your story? I’d like them to get used to stopping and looking, spending just a moment listening to the world around us and feeling like they’re a part of it. I’d like them to understand that we are surrounded by such sensorial richness. We are always in a hurry, dashing here and there, and we miss the small details of life, which are in fact, the most important ones. We have to live in the moment and fully immerse ourselves in the small pleasures, such as listening to music or nature. Music All Around is available now. Read our interview with illustrator, Lucía Cobo. ABOUT GEMA SIRVENT: Sirvent obtained a master’s degree in translation and visual arts at the University of Alicante before becoming a freelance writer and editor. She is presently the editorial director of the publishing house Libre Albedrio and also hosts a weekly show about children’s literature on Candil Radio. Her most recent picture book, Cinematographico, was published in 2019.