Throughout 2020, I’m interviewing the new authors & illustrators of the group Perfect 2020 PBs. Today, I have the pleasure of chatting with author Carolyn Leiloglou! Her debut picture book, Library’s Most Wanted, illustrated by Sara Pogue, released in May from Pelican.
Welcome, Carolyn! Tell us what Library’s Most Wanted is all about!
Thanks for having me, Katelyn!
As you mentioned, Library’s Most Wanted came out May 25, 2020 from Pelican. Main character Libby longs to be a great librarian like her aunt Nora, and it just chaps her hide when kids vandalize books. She hangs up Wanted posters to drive the “outlaws” from her “territory.” But when she realizes that a librarian’s real job isn’t protecting books but connecting them with readers, she must find a way to lure them back.
You’ve infused the story with such a fun “Far West” flavor. Librarians, teachers, and book collectors of ALL ages will find this story relatable, and its wonderful message applies to so many aspects of life. (I personally love how it promotes respect for books but also for the readers who love them.) Where did you get the idea for Library’s Most Wanted? Do you remember your lightbulb moment?
I don’t remember how I got the idea, but I remember where I was! I was sitting at the park brainstorming while my kids played. I still have the notebook where I wrote down my original ideas about the story.
In general, though, when I write picture books, I love starting with an interesting idea, catchy title, or pun and then delving into the story that might be behind it.
What can you tell us about your journey to publication? How long have you been pursuing this dream?
It was when I had kids of my own that I rediscovered picture books. That was about fifteen years ago. I dabbled in writing for many years, but around five years ago, I finally got serious about pursuing it.
What spurred you to pursue this path professionally? What other fields have you worked in?
I’ve wanted to write since I was a kid, and I actually started writing my first novel in fourth grade. Being an author was a profession that always appealed to me, though for a long time I lacked the confidence to pursue it. Currently I homeschool my four kids, which is a fairly full-time job. Before having kids, I was a substitute teacher.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
There’s no typical day! Homeschooling keeps me pretty busy during the school year, so I have to set aside time to write or catch quiet moments. I also often write in the evenings after the kids are in bed.
What feeds your creativity as an artist? Or helps you when you’re feeling stuck?
I’m not sure it fuels my creativity, but I love webinars and classes. It gives me a boost to want to work on writing when I feel like I’m learning more about my craft.
What tips would you offer other creatives?
I think it’s important to invest in yourself. If you want to take your work seriously, you are going to have to invest time, first of all, but probably also money on tools, education, conferences, books. You aren’t going to seriously improve without taking your work seriously.
Words of wisdom, indeed. Looking back a couple of years, can you describe a pivotal moment in your writing career? That point when you realized your dreams were about to come true?
For me, there were several things that all snowballed at once. I had been submitting to agents and contests as well as participating in pitch parties on Twitter for a couple of years. Within the span of one month, I got an offer from a publisher, signed with an agent, and was notified I was a finalist
for the 2018 Katherine Paterson Prize, in that order. Talk about a boost of confidence!
The Katherine Paterson Prize–wow, what an honor! Fast forward just 2 years, and your dream of publishing your very first picture book has come true. Will you continue to publish picture books or pursue other genres & age groups?
I certainly hope there will be more picture books in my future! I do have a chapter book, Save the Cave, coming out in October. It’s the second in my Noah Green Junior Zookeeper series.
Congratulations on a two-book year! And thank you so much with being here to chat about your career, Carolyn. Are there any promotional events where we can look forward to meeting you?
I’ll be at The Twig in San Antonio on October 3, 2020 for a book signing! All other events will be listed on my website: www.carolynleiloglou.com.
Wonderful! Here’s wishing you much success and many more books!
Support author Carolyn Leiloglou’s work by ordering her new book at any of the links below. IndieBound helps you order directly from your local independent bookstore, which could surely use the support as well!