I’ve featured some pretty great author interviews here on the blog. But never before have I interviewed and featured a picture book author. I know, I feature a ton of great picture books, but never a picture book author. What’s up with that?!
It was about time I fixed that! I recently read, adored, and featured Karina Wolf’s The Insomniacs (if you didn’t read my post, you can do so here) as Book of the Week. After reading this lovely book, I knew I had to ask the author some questions! And fortunately she agreed!
BookBandit (BB): Can you tell me a little about yourself, and about your path as a writer?
Karina Wolf (KW): I grew up in a New Jersey suburb just outside Philadelphia. And I knew I wanted to write from the moment I learned to read. The strange alchemy of how letters formed words and words made stories was really exciting to me.
My older brothers have been great examples for me — one is a visual artist and one began his career as a dancer and an actor, so I had great inspiration and support in pursuing a career in the creative arts. Of course, it can hard to figure out a path for an untraditional career, so I’ve worked in a variety of writing-related fields, such as copy-writing, film development and other kinds of freelance writing. The first things I wrote were poems, though I’ve always leaned toward more narrative media — so it’s a pleasure that The Insomniacs is my first book. I wrote The Insomniacs‘ first draft as a poem.
BB: I’ve heard it been said before that writing a picture book is hard work. In your opinion as a picture book author, what makes it so difficult? What challenges did you face writing The Insomniacs?
KW: I’m a new picture book author, but I think the challenge of the picture book is in figuring out what details to put in and what to exclude. It’s such a condensed form that you have to clarify the intentions in writing a story, often more than a few times, to be sure that each detail is relevant, moves the story forward, and has whatever aesthetic intention you hope to achieve.
BB: The Insomniacs is a story of a family who, after moving, find out that they much rather sleep during the day and live their lives at night. A family of insomniacs is a really unique topic that I don’t think picture books have seen before. What made you want to write a book about a family of insomniacs? With that, what was the inspiration behind your book? Also, I particularly loved all of Mika’s unusual pets. If you could have any one unusual pet, what would it be and why?
KW: I wrote about a family of insomniacs because I come from a family of insomniacs. I have had many bouts of bad sleeping and realized my older brothers and my parents have the problem, too. In part, I wrote The Insomniacsas a consolation for not sleeping and then it became a celebration of sleeplessness and of nighttime.I would love a fennec fox. It’s a creatively exciting idea to have a wild animal as a pet. My dog Luca looks a lot like a fox, and I’m very happy with him!
BB: Not only is your writing strong, it’s super smart. The Insomniacs may be a picture book, but personally I feel it’s a book that kids of all ages can and will love. What do you hope your readers – both young and old – take away from your book?
KW: I hope that readers will enjoy the mysterious atmosphere, the nurturing and untraditional family and the pleasure that they take in solving their sleep problem together. I hope the book makes nighttime magical for readers!
BB: If you were to describe your book only using three words, what three words would best describe The Insomniacs ?
KW: Loving eccentric family.
BB: Can readers expect to see more of The Insomniacs in the future?
KW: I hope so! I certainly think there’s more to write about them!
BB: What advice could you offer to aspiring writers?
KW: I’m such a new author, I’m not sure I’m in a position to offer advice. I realized that what works for me is to write about subjects and characters whom I love, who are fascinating and amusing to me — which makes the writing process enjoyable and hopefully the result is enjoyable to readers.
I want to say THANK YOU to author Karina Wolf for taking time out of her schedule to answer a few questions. For more information about Karina Wolf and her latest book, The Insomniacs
, check her out on the web here