I very excited today as this is my first author interview and it is with the talented, and inspiring children’s book author Elsa Takaoka. Elsa released Goo and Spot in the Do Not Wiggle Riddle and A Moat is Not a Goat: Poems for Clever Little Girls last year. I had won a free copy of Goo and Spot and did a review of it here. Elsa graciously answered some questions I had in between her busy mommy, writing and publishing schedule.
So here we go, lets learn a little more about the author behind the books.
One thing I always wonder about is how long authors have been writing and what their writing practice might look like. We will start there:
1. How long have you been writing for kids and what is your favourite part of writing for kids?
Elsa: I started writing picture books a little over a year and a half ago. At first it started as an escape, a distraction from our new life abroad but it quickly grew into a passion an obsession. I love everything about writing for kids from the first “Aha!” moment when an idea appears to seeing that idea brought to life by the illustrator.
2. Do You have a writing practice? Describe or explain.
Elsa: I have come to realize that a great WRITTEN story is really a magically complex IDEA told in a few precisely chosen words. I sit and write down my initial idea and may even jot down a draft, but for me stories are best created mentally without pen and paper. This way I am not afraid of trying different angles nor do I feel committed to a line or phrase. I often lay at night building on an idea, visualizing details and illustrations. Then when I am sure of the beginning, middle and end I start writing, I prefer rhyme, which is both a curse and a blessing. I have never been good at mathematics or music, but for some reason rhymes and rhythms and syllable counts and tones mesmerize me.
3. What is your best advice to other authors who are thinking of self-publishing?
Elsa: Learn industry standards. Learn the page count, word count, and layouts, study as much as you can. Hire that editor, splurge on that illustrator, read blogs, absorb yourself in children’s literature. Avoid rhyme if necessary (unless you are
stubborn like me then bite the bullet!) After the formalities I say, “be bold, be brave, and be confident! ”
In the beginning I was afraid no one would take me seriously, I was very sensitive to bad reviews, I have since learned that I am an unstoppable writing force because I LOVE this, I am crazy in love with writing for kids and with kids (especially my own) and if you love something you are willing to fight for it. Children’s books are for CHILDREN not for adult critics.
4. Can you tell us one thing that most people probably don’t know about life in Japan? How is raising kids different there?
Elsa: The preschool and kindergarten systems (four ages six and under) are amazing here in Japan. My little one goes to a school that prides itself with allowing kids to roam free in the fresh air while playing with mud and sticks and rocks. Needless to say, my kid is now a tree-climbing, mud-pie baking, free spirit which is something not many people imagine from such a disciplined nation.
Me: You are right, roam free, playing with mud and sticks is not what I expected but great to hear. Kids are kids no matter what part of the world they live in. Mine also love adventure walks in the forest, collecting rocks and puddle splashing. You have been a very busy lady so lets find out what you are currently working on:
5. What are you currently working on?
Elsa: I am currently working on the third book in the Goo and Spot series “Goo and Spot Under the Orange Tree” a picture book that teaches fractions to the youngest of children. I am also writing my first chapter book about a mischievous and rumbustious little girl and her knack of getting into predicaments. I am beyond excited to be writing a book for older children and hope to have that done before the end of 2015.
Me: My daughter and I love the first book of Goo and Spot so we are looking forward to the new books in the series and its very exciting to hear about your chapter book. You will continue to be a busy lady. Thank you so much Elsa Takaoka for the interview and good luck this year in all your book adventures.
*Elsa Takaoka sent my a complimentary copy of the this book. A review was not requested. I only write reviews of books my kids and/or I enjoy and want to share with my readers.
Where can you find Elsa Takaoka? Here are her sites:
Educator, Writer, Blogger, Mom
Contact Me: BonnieDani@adalinc.org