What’s your background, what compelled you to start writing?
I’ve always loved writing. And I started collecting children’s books long before I ever had kids. So, I guess, if I had been paying attention, I would have known it would come to this eventually.
What book from your childhood do you remember the best? Why?
I love all of the Frances books, by Russell and Lillian Hoban. She was cheeky but kind. I also loved Corduroy, Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel, and all of Sandra Boynton’s books. I remember coming across If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and thought it was brilliant. Bought it immediately and saved it for a decade before I had kids. Now, as an adult reading to my kids, there are so many fabulous books out there; Rosie Revere Engineer, Be Kind, The Most Magnificent Thing, Beekle, Creepy Carrots, Bats in the Library, Snowmen at Night, Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots, I can go on and on.
Does writing energize you, or exhaust you?
I love it. It’s such a release for me. When it’s exhausting, I know I need to take a break. If I fight it the words are clunky. If I relax and let my brain quiet down, then it can flow evenly. For me, the difficulty lies in getting time to find a quiet space in a house of three kids six and under.
What’s your writing Kryptonite?
Impatience. If I let it flow naturally, then it comes out closer to being done. If I force it, then it just takes longer to rewrite and rework.
Which other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you be a better writer?
I’ve made some great friends through the various Facebook writing groups. They’ve been great to bump ideas off of whether it’s a storyline, subject matter, or a marketing hurdle. And I love being able to celebrate their successes and have them cheer for me as well. I also am extremely lucky in that I have several fellow authors on my launch team. So when I’m fretting about a plot or a printing issue or marketing woe, they can commiserate right along with me.
If you didn’t write, what would you do? Or, if writing is not a full-time job, what do you do?
I’m a stay-at-home expat mom. We live overseas and I have a six-year-old and two four-year-olds, so they keep me more than busy. I try to squeeze in writing and marketing where I can.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Keep writing! Keep reading! You’ll get there. Stop being so impatient.
How many half-finished and unpublished books do you have right now?
I have 4-8 that are in various stages of being being half-finished. One is in the illustration phase, two have been professionally edited so they’re back in my hands for re-writes, and I have the illustrators on-call waiting for them. Then the rest are in the ideas-on-paper phase. I love that sometimes I get a spark of an idea, so I quickly write as much of it down as I can. Then I have to let it ferment a little. And I come back to it later when it’s ready to come out. Kind of like baking a cake for a very long time – sometimes it takes a week, other times it can take months. But there’s no point in pulling it out too early; inedible.
What does literary success look like to you?
Being able to support my writing habit. Sell enough of one book to finance the next, and the next, and the next.
What kind of research do you do?
Depends on the book. I have one dinosaur story I’m working on and I quickly realized that I didn’t know nearly enough about dinosaurs so I went out and grabbed a few books so I can research more before I move forward with the story. Others might not require any research at all, other than finding the best beta readers who will give you great feedback and comments.
Were you an avid reader while you were growing up?
Absolutely. Still am, though admittedly I read more children’s books and marketing books than I do adult fiction right now.
Did you always want to be a Children’s author/illustrator?
Yes, I really think I have. I love the variety of children’s books, from stories to messages to methods and illustrations. There is an level of endless opportunities there.
Besides hard work and talent, what other traits has led to your success?
Determination. And a belief that I can really do this. If you don’t believe in your story and yourself, then no one else will. Of course, you also need to produce a quality product, but then you need to run with it and stand tall.
How did you come up with the stars/MCs of your books?
In Nonni’s Moon, the characters are based loosely on my children and my mother – our Nonni. So that was an easy fit.
What inspires you?
My kids. Sounds trite, but it’s true. Every day they come up with some insight or commentary or sentence that sparks my brain. I love it. So inspirational.
What challenges did you encounter to finish ?
Not knowing anything when I started out. How to find an illustrator, how to find an editor, and the biggest, how to market it once you figured everything else out. Nonni’s Moon is my first children’s book so I’m learning every step of the way and often having to take several steps back in order to move forward. It can be really frustrating at times, but I keep reminding myself that there’s no real deadline with this. I need to just accept that it will be released when it’s done. And there are a thousand factors that go into deciding that and I cannot control them all. So accept it, and go edit books 4-8.
What advice can you give to young readers looking to share their own stories in books or graphic novels?
With self-publishing options it’s really quite easy to publish your stories now. But the same rings true for traditionally published books – get it professionally edited, have it read by others to get their comments and critiques, read it aloud to see how it really sounds, and pay attention to all the details in order to produce a quality book.
|Nonni’s Moon – Written by Julia Inserro, Illustrated by Lucy Smith|
|Nonni’s Moon is available for pre-order on Amazon.
Buy on Amazon here
Nonni’s Moon is your first book, did you base any of the characters on people you know?
In Nonni’s Moon, the characters are based loosely on my children and my mother and teachers we know. I gave my illustrator some general tips, but then let her create their looks.
Is there a particular message that you hope readers will take from Nonni’s Moon?
In Nonni’s Moon, I hope readers will take away what matters to them. Whether it’s the need to keep loved ones in their heart, despite far distances separating them. Or whether it’s the ability to see a problem, like missing friends and family, and coming up with a solution, like sending messages through the moon. I’m always surprised to see what readers take away from it. It really touches me.
What’s your favourite scene in the book?
From an illustration point, I love the scene Lucy created of the cityscape blending into the desert with the words looping through the sky. It just takes my breath away each time I see it. I also love the cover and the opening page of Beanie in bed. Lucy did such an amazing job.
What’s brewing? What projects are you working on?
I’m working on a few books covering a whole range of subjects. My illustrator, Lucy Smith, and I are working on a book about embracing empathy. I have one on geography with a special twist. I have my dinosaur story, which needs further research. I have a princess one and a bedtime story. So, lots of variety on the horizon.
You can follow Julia Inserro here;