Six Questions with Sarah LuAnn Perkins
Sarah LuAnn Perkins is an illustrator, author, and printmaker who loves finding the fun and whimsy in everyday life. On a Rainy Day (Viking Books for Young Readers, 2022) is her first book, exploring a rainy day though sounds. Sarah creates hand-carved linocut prints, as well as digital artwork that imitates the look and feel of traditional prints. Visit Sarah's website to learn more about her and her work.
1. When you begin writing a book, do you always know where the story is going?
Yes. In the past I've tried "discovery writing" (sometimes called "pantsing," because you're writing "by the seat of your pants") and I could never get past the early parts of the story. If I don't know where I'm going and what I want the story to be, I get stuck. When I know what I want the story to be and where I'm headed, I'm actually able to sit down and write. If I don't know where the story is going yet, it isn't time to sit down and write.
2. Which comes first for you, the words or the pictures?
On a Rainy Day started as a concept focused on the type of words I would use--a story told through onomatopoeia. Throughout the process, I jumped back and forth between words and pictures--jotting down ideas of sound words, doodling pictures of a kid jumping in puddles, organizing sounds into a story, thinking of pictures to fit the story. The ability to switch from one to the other when you get stuck on one of them is one of the biggest advantages of creating both the words and the pictures.
3. What are you working on? What's next for you?
I'm working on putting together a Graphic Novel proposal. I love picture books and I do have some other picture book ideas I'd love to try, but my daughter and I have both been reading a lot of Graphic Novels recently and I'm really excited to try my hand at the medium!
4. Where did you get the idea for On a Rainy Day? What was your inspiration?
In January of 2017, I was participating in the Storystorm challenge for picture book authors. The idea of the Storystorm challenge is to come up with an idea for a picture book for every day in January. One day, I heard the sound of a drop of water falling outside my window. (Probably from an icicle, since it was winter!) I thought it would be interesting to try and tell a story entirely through sound words. Though the challenge was only to come up with picture book IDEAS, not drafts, I was so excited about this idea that I wrote out a first draft that night.
5. What was the process or timeline for this book, from idea to publishing?
There were a lot of stops and starts in the process of creating this book, because I had a toddler when I first got the idea for the book, and gave birth to another baby before it was finished! I wrote the first draft and did a few rough sketches, left the project alone for a few months, did some rewrites and more detailed sketches, left it for a few months.... etc. etc, you get the idea. Because of this, it took me three years to get the dummy book completed and revised, and two more to get it agented, sold, and published!
6. How was the editorial process? Did you do any revisions?
The story went through many drafts and critiques at every stage of the process, but the biggest revision was when I was asked by an editor at Viking to add prose words to the book. From the beginning I had conceived of the book as having ONLY onomatopoeia words, so finding a way to add other words was difficult. I was willing to make revisions, but my first attempts at adding words to the story I felt detracted from what I wanted the book to be--so I told my agent it wasn't working and we continued the submission process. However, in the back of my mind I was still trying to figure out how to do the revision in a way that wouldn't distract from what I had intended the story to be. One night, months later, I couldn't sleep. I thought about my story, and I finally had an idea that I thought might work--so I got up and wrote a new draft right then. I sent the revision to my agent the next day, and she loved it! We sent it to Viking, and they liked it too--and the rest is history.