PictureBookBuzz: Tell us about yourself.
Kourtney: There are two places I have always felt at home: surrounded by books or among the trees. Since my memories started forming, I have been collecting children’s books. As an adult, I love how a picture book can capture big concepts with a limited amount of words and beautiful or powerful images. It’s very Zen. To create an experience using just words and pictures is alchemy to me.
As a homeschooling mother of four, I enjoy our freedom-based lifestyle with the world as our classroom. I have passed on my habit of collecting rocks and treasures to my children. Whenever we arrive home from an excursion, we empty our pockets and share our findings. I am a former teacher with 20 years of experience teaching and working with children and families in elementary classrooms, preschools, head start, and other community programs.
I believe in the power of story, spoken and written, as a way to understand ourselves, have a sense of belonging, connect us to our past, and expand our minds.
PictureBookBuzz: What inspired your book, IF SUN COULD SPEAK?
Kourtney: I was enrolled in a course with Children’s Book Academy, directed by Mira Reisberg. We were reviewing ways to think of enticing book topics, and she said to think of a problem or question you had as a child. That piqued my interest, so I set the intention to recall a childhood memory that would make a great story. It was the next day that a memory from my childhood popped up. I think I was about five or six when I first discovered that the sun doesn’t actually rise and set. I had assumed that the sun was moving up and down in the sky. It totally blew my mind that it was the earth’s movement that created sunrises and sunsets. And I felt frustrated whenever I heard people say anything about the sun rising. That’s where the concept of a book told from the sun’s perspective began, to clear up any misunderstandings about the sun.
PictureBookBuzz: Tell us about your main character.
Kourtney: The main character, Sun, is slightly egotistical. It happens when the world revolves around you. Sun has two goals as she is talking to readers: One is to share information about who she is and what she does. And the second is to inspire readers to wonder and search for discoveries.
PictureBookBuzz: Tell us about your illustrations and how you were involved in the process.
Kourtney: I feel very lucky to have been involved in the illustration process. I think we went against the norms when the three of us collaborated (art director/editor, illustrator, and author). The Illustrator, Saki Tanaka, was able to give me feedback from her perspective. That allowed me to make some changes as the author, which improved the story. I was able to share feedback on the illustrations as well. Because we all had the highest good of the story in our hearts, it has been an incredible process.
PictureBookBuzz: If I could give advice to other writers, what would you want to share?
Kourtney: There is so much advice and tips available to writers. Don’t forget to write! Writing is a skill and improves with practice. Be strict about setting a routine and schedule and find ways that work for you. Get your words and stories out without fear of how they will be interpreted. You can edit later. One of my favorite quotes on writing is “Start writing no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” -Louis L’Amour
So keep creating and allow the channel to stay open!
I’d also add to get rid of any ideas about what you think writing (and being a writer) is supposed to look like. If you think something is not possible, then you have already shut the door on yourself.
Connect with me on Social Media:
Ilustrator Saki Tanaka's website: https://sakitales.com/
We are a group of picture book authors and illustrators whose first picture books will be released in 2019. Read about our roads to publication here.