If I Wrote a Book About You was a staff pick at Powell's, arguably the best bookstore in the world.
A thousand years ago, I had an idea for a book devoted to photographs of beloved stuffed animals. Since I'm not a photographer, my idea went nowhere. (I tend to have a lot of good ideas for things I could do if I were a totally different person.)
Today I discovered that not one but two such books were published in 2013, and they both look beautiful: Much Loved and Dirty Wow Wow and Other Love Stories: A Tribute to the Threadbare Companions of Childhood. (Although, I think I prefer the title "Much Loved" to "Dirty Wow Wow," which puts me in mind of a rapper name. Or maybe rappers name themselves after their childhood comfort objects? Hmm, that might explain a lot...)
Take a gander:
More Much Loved photos.
My dear friend Sara O'Leary asked me to participate in this blog book tour. This is very exciting and momentous for me because I wouldn't qualify to do it if my first picture book hadn't JUST been published. So thank you, Sara, and yay!
Sara is the author of the gorgeous Henry books and a kind of magical, generous mentor figure to me. (If you can have a mentor who is basically the same age as you.) I first stumbled upon When You Were Small in Munro Books when I was living in Victoria, B.C. and I remember being STRUCK. I was both absolutely charmed and incredibly envious. It was exactly the kind of book I wished I'd written. The other two books in the series are just as amazing.
Sara has a number of wonderful new books coming out that I've been lucky enough to read in draft form and I can't wait to see them in print. They include This is Sadie, illustrated by Julie Morstad and published by Tundra Books, and a series of baby books, published by Owl Books and illustrated by Soyeon Kim. I'm SO curious about the illustrations.
Q: What are you working on?
Right now, I am working on four new picture book ideas and honestly, I am afraid to talk about any of them. What if I jinx them? So I won't say anything more about that. I am also working, in a very vague, now-and-then sort of way, on my collection of Grim Stories, which is more YA than anything else, I suppose. And I am thinking about working on a collection of short stories for adults. Does thinking about working on something count as working on it? Probably not.
Q: Why do you write what you do?
Because I can't write anything else? Seriously, though, I am really drawn to constraints. I love flash fiction -- short stories that are less than 1000 words long and ideally much shorter than that. Every single word matters. When I had children and started reading to them, I realized that picture books work the same way. Only the text has to interact with the pictures, too, and that can be a fun challenge.
Q: How does your writing process work?
Ideally, I get flashes of inspiration and work really hard, for a day or two, trying to capture them on paper. Then I let them sit there for a while before going back to edit them. I love writing when writing is like this -- the flashes of inspiration feel like magic, the writing tends to pour out of me, and I even enjoy the editing process. But, unfortunately, you can't just command yourself to have flashes of inspiration. So I only work like that when they come. When they don't come, which is most of the time, I just...try hard. It's like exercising. And, like exercising, I don't do it often enough. It also takes a long time to see the results.
Isn't it stunning?
And why not visit some of the other authors and illustrators who have answered these questions on this blog book tour?
And of course: Sara O'Leary. Thank you so much for asking me to participate, Sara, and for hosting a giveaway of my book!
My dear friend (and writer extraordinaire) Sara O'Leary answers some interesting questions about writing over on her blog and also offers a copy of my newly published picture book "If I Wrote a Book About You" to a lucky Canadian winner. To enter the contest, all you have to do is leave a comment on her blog post or tweet something about why you love picture books to @saraoleary using the hashtag #stephka and she will enter your name! Good luck! And thank you so much, Sara!
The lovely Kerry Clare, editor of The M Word, will be discussing the portrayals of mothers in children's literature with other contributors to the book. I would love to be there -- it sounds fascinating. And see that, down there in the right-hand corner? That's If I Wrote a Book About You, which will be included in the discussion if copies of the book get to Parentbooks in time! (Although it was officially "published" on May 30th, copies of the book don't appear to be available in stores yet. Hurry, little book! Flap your wings!)
We've been reading Harriet the Spy and Luke wrote this week's Reading Response to it, for school. In answer to the question, "If you were a character in your book, what would you do?" Luke wrote:
If I were Harriet, I wouldn't write such mean things about the other children. If I were the mom, I wouldn't go out so much. If I were the dad, I wouldn't hire chefs and babysitters all day. If I were the chef, I wouldn't be so grumpy. If I were the chef (again), I'd mind my own business.
He's more like Harriet than he realizes. Which I love. (I guess he'd limit himself to writing mean things about grown-ups...)
Harriet the Spy is fifty this week! I wonder what she's writing in her notebook now? Here are some of her early observations:
OLE GOLLY SAYS DESCRIPTION IS GOOD FOR THE SOUL AND CLEARS THE BRAIN LIKE A LAXATIVE.
MY FATHER IS ALWAYS SAYING STARVINGARTIST AND STARVINGWRITER. MAYBE I BETTER REDUCE.
THERE IS NOTHING LIKE A GOOD TOMATO SANDWICH NOW AND THEN.
YOU CAN'T BE TOO OLD TO SPY EXCEPT IF YOU WERE FIFTY YOU MIGHT FALL OFF A FIRE ESCAPE, BUT YOU COULD SPY AROUND ON THE GROUND A LOT.
So what do you think Harriet is up to these days? Is she working for the NSA? Or working to expose them? Is she publishing her twentieth novel? Does she blog? Is she married to Scout, the CPA -- or to Janie?
This feels surreal. I just googled If I Wrote a Book About You and discovered that you can preorder it at any one of a number of places! It will be available on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk, Chapters, Powells (my beloved Powells!), and Barnes & Noble. It will even be available at Walmart's site.
In my googling, I also discovered that the first result for "If I wrote a book about you" links to the lyrics of one of Beyonce's songs. She sings, "If I wrote a book about where we stand, the title of my book would be 'Life with Superman.'" Clearly, she needs a copy of If I Wrote a Book About You for baby Blue Ivy. Maybe we could make a special gold-plated one.
Four-year-old Sylvie "reads" her current fave, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! I don't know why the colours are so wonky -- something's wrong with my camera.
Sylvie and I have been reading a lot of fairy tales at bedtime lately -- we're particularly fond of James Marshall's versions of them. Last night we read Cinderella.
Sylvie sensibly pointed out to me that things could've been much simpler. While we were gazing at the picture of the prince trying the shoe on one of the stepsisters, she said, "That's why, when you meet someone, you should always tell them your name right away. And you should find out theirs."