Posted in Meet the authors

Meet the author: Keila Dawson

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Author website/social media:

The King Cake Baby Book Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=Nt0qp3jqzAI

Tell me a little about yourself: 

I was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana but have also lived and worked in the Philippine Islands, Japan, and Egypt. In addition to living in the southern United States, I’ve lived in the southwest, the West Coast, the East Coast, and now reside in the Midwest. In addition to writing, I enjoy travel, tennis, and genealogical research.

When you were my age, did you like to read? 

Reading was not my favorite past time when I was your age. Instead, I preferred the outdoors. But I did have an active imagination. For example, I ran an insect hospital! I told stories and wrote them too. I remember chapter books series like the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and books by Beverly Cleary were popular back then.

What was your favorite story? 

I have fond memories of WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE by Maurice Sendak. Although published more than 50 years ago, it’s still popular today. And now I am able to understand what makes this story so special. From an adult perspective, it sums up the parent-child relationship very well. From an author’s perspective, there is a beginning, middle, and end filled with emotion and a timeless theme of unconditional love all in 10 sentences with only 338 words.

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How do you get your ideas? 

The story idea for THE KING CAKE BABY (Pelican Publishing, Co. January 2015) came to me when baking a King Cake during the Mardi Gras season. When I couldn’t find the tiny plastic baby traditionally hidden in the cake in a kitchen drawer where I keep them, I asked myself, “Now where did that baby go?”

Other ideas have come to me when observing people or situations, reading books, or listening to the radio.  And when traveling I tend to wonder about things I see in unfamiliar environments.

Is it hard to write/illustrate a book? 

I’ve always enjoyed writing, have an advanced degree, and had to write in professionally. But not all writing is the same so I am taking classes specifically to learn how to write for the children’s book market.

Even if you have a good story idea, a writer must know how to write the story you want to tell. That takes time and skill. Writers study the craft of writing, and practice, practice, practice. One story will have many revisions and can take months or years to finish.

Sometimes writers get stuck so you have to put a story away and work on something else. A writer has to be very patient and persistent.

Do you have a favorite among the books you have written/illustrated? 

I am a “debut” author. That means I’ve had one book published so far. But if I am lucky enough to publish more, I think my first story will always remain special.

What author do you really like right now? 

It’s so hard to pick one! I adore stories by Miranda Paul. I think Patricia Polacco is an excellent storyteller and enjoy all of her books. The humor of Tammi Sauer, Aaron Reynolds, Ame Dyckman, and Mo Willems always makes me laugh out loud. For stories that tug at my heartstrings I read Kevin Henkes, Jacqueline Woodson, Yuyi Morales, Jane Yolen, and Don Tate.

What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? 

Besides reading tons of books, studying, and writing a lot, keep a notebook nearby to jot down ideas; things you wonder about or want to know more about. Not every idea or wonder is “book worthy” but you can still write about it.

Use your imagination to create stories from your ideas and practice telling and/or writing them.

And practice cursive writing for your author signature!

(Bridget note: I am saving my review of King Cake Baby for a time closer to Mardi Gras, but I do recommend it)

 

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