1. When you were my age (10), did you like to read?
In think my experience with reading is different from many authors. I don’t remember reading being encouraged at home. As a child, I think I had an undiagnosed reading disorder, making reading quite difficult. I learned to read to do well in school but reading for pleasure didn’t come until later in life. So, you can imagine I didn’t start out wanting to be a writer.
Having said that, I remember receiving a book from my godparents that I absolutely loved. I loved horses as a child so this book was right up my alley.
2. What is a book that made an impact on you?
Since I didn’t read much as a kid, adult books are the ones that have had the biggest impact. The books with the greatest impact on my life are about mindfulness meditation. Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn changed my life, along with books by Sharon Salzberg, Thich Nhat Hahn and Jack Kornfield.
For pleasure reading, I like books that use language that lights up the story, words I can hear and feel, words that make me want to hear every word and not skim over anything. I like the brilliant work of Jane Smiley, in particular The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton.
As an adult I read children’s book teaching kids mindfulness and others that are encouraging and hopeful. A few books about maintaining connection with a caretaker figure come to mind, like The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, illustrated by Ruth Harper and Nancy Leak and The Invisible String by Patrice Karst, illustrated by Geoff Stevenson.
3. Is it hard to come up with book ideas?
I have one children’s picture book, May All People and Pigs Be Happy, which teaches loving-kindness meditation and an adult book, The Need To Please: Mindfulness Skills to Gain Freedom from People-Pleasing and Approval Seeking.
The very idea to even write these books came without prompting during meditation. Several times I would hear the thought . . . “Book!” At first I tried to ignore those thoughts, partly because I didn’t think I could write a book. Finally, as I meditated, I asked the question . . . “What book?” As I softened around the idea of writing a book (I hadn’t considered myself a writer), the subjects emerged and thoughts came as I sat quietly.
Once I had a general outline for the The Need To Please I received a contract to write it, which included deadlines. This made for a fair amount of anxiety, especially being a first time author, making it difficult to put flesh on the bones of my outline. I had difficulty finding the “right” words to express my thoughts.
For May All People and Pigs Be Happy, I didn’t have a contract and wasn’t in a hurry, so I simply let the ideas come a little at a time. I wanted the book to follow the way loving-kindness meditation is traditionally taught, so I had a basic skeleton for the book. I also have a stuffed pig, Pigalina, and I love her. Pigalina would pop into my mind along with the way loving-kindness meditation is taught. From there ideas would simply pop into my mind about the plot. Since I wasn’t in a hurry, the book came to me in its own time without much trouble.
4. What author or book have read recently that impacted you?
I am rereading Viktor Frankl’s inspirational book, Man’s Search for Meaning.
- Is there a new or lesser known author you think kids should be aware of?
I don’t know if Andrew Jordan Nance is a lesser-known author but he has a few lovely books that help kids develop mindfulness and emotional regulation. His recently released book is The Lion in Me.
6. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?
Spend some time being quiet and letting your imagination enchant you. The imagination is a wonderful source of ideas. If you are quiet you can listen to and see what you imagination gives you. Follow your imagination. Most of all, you don’t need to try to hard to make things up but let them come to you. Keep writing down your thoughts and over time they can come together into a plot.
I hope this interview is encouraging for you. I didn’t read as a child. I thought I couldn’t write a book. Even though I had no confidence as a writer, I knew I had ideas worth writing about. So, I did it. You can too.
When I didn’t have a deadline, I had fun writing and it was productive. Have some fun writing down your story and mix in some persistence. You can make it happen.
7. As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?
I love hearing from readers. I have heard many lovely stories about the impact of May All People and Pigs Be Happy. These stories warm my heart and sometimes bring tears to my eyes. One person told me that she read the story to her daughter who had been crying because a friend was mean to her. They practiced the loving wishes from the book and the daughter felt calmer and more loving toward herself and her friend. These stories are important because I can see the mission of helping kids find their inner kindness and caring being full-filled.
8. If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?
I would be Claire from my book, May All People and Pigs Be Happy. She learned loving-kindness at an early age as I wish I had.