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  • Writer's pictureMary Boone

Six Questions with Lisa Kerr

Lisa Kerr grew up hiking and exploring the western United States. She is a children’s book author, playwright, educator, and essayist whose work has been featured in magazines and publications including Huffington Post, New York Magazine, Bustle, and more. After a recent visit to the California super bloom, Lisa was inspired to research and then write Wake, Sleepy One (West Margin Press). She lives in central California. To learn more about Lisa and her work, visit her website.

1. How did you begin your journey as an author?

I began my journey as an author when I was around eight years old. I was a voracious reader and I wrote constantly. I lived in books for decades and I still do. I hope other young writers will be inspired to read that I started writing at a young age because there really is no limit to what you can accomplish if you can imagine it.

2. What three things bring you joy?

My four children, coffee, and the mountains.

3. When you begin writing a book, do you always know where the story is going?

I can honestly say that one of the best parts of writing, for me, is following the story down every trail and every whim. I enjoy the mystery of writing a story, especially when I don’t know where it’s going. Research makes the journey especially fun.

4. What was the most challenging thing you faced while writing/researching Wake, Sleepy One?

This book is what’s called a “quiet” book. The most challenging part of writing a quiet book is that it doesn’t necessarily stand out in today’s market for children’s books, or at least that’s what I was told by an editor. It’s scientific and lyrical, not loud and splashy. There are no big funny, animal characters or silly scenes. It’s just a beautiful book about the environment and a celebration of being in nature, which is probably the best thing for our post-pandemic world and especially important for young, inquisitive minds. Taking walks on nature trails with an eye for discovery and curiosity is something my time in the classroom was lacking when I was a teacher, so I hope that Wake, Sleepy One can help bring nature to the classroom (whether the classroom is at home, in nature or in a building) and I hope future botanists will find inspiration on its pages.

5. How do you divide your time between research and writing?

This book started after a trip to see the superbloom, so a few pieces of research inspired the story. I wrote the main narrative first, which began as a longer lyrical narrative. It was quite wordy, but after some thoughtful advice from a critique partner named Laura, I edited it down to just the most essential language, which later became the main story. After that, I spent months finalizing the research, working with experts, and tweaking the secondary text and backmatter.

6. What’s a particularly striking or memorable reaction someone has had to this book?

As a mom to four little ones, I have to say the first time I read the book out loud to my children for our nightly story time was the most emotional moment. My daughter Juniper helped me turn the pages and opened one particularly beautiful spread and gasped out loud at how beautiful Lisa Powell Braun had depicted a fully bloomed poppy flower. It was just magical to see my book through the eyes of my own child. I’m sure I’ll see many other magical reactions to that spread, but Juniper’s reaction will always be one of my favorite moments.

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