Hello Readers! I’m so glad you’ve stopped by Kid Lit Village today. I’m super excited to interview author/illustrator, Sarah Kurpiel today and feature her recently published book, ORIGINAL CAT, COPY CAT published by Greenwillow, August 2021.
Title: ORIGINAL CAT, COPY CAT
Synopsis: Pineapple’s entire routine is turned upside-down when new kitten Kiwi copies everything Pineapple does. But eventually Pineapple learns that having a friend makes everything better.
Sarah, it’s a pleasure to have you on the blog. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today.
What part of being a writer/illustrator do you love most?
I love the early stages of the picture book making process: getting to know the characters by doodling them over and over, sketching key moments that I can’t imagine the story without, thumbnailing page layouts, even planning the endpapers and copyright page if an idea strikes me. Usually, I haven’t written the story text at that point, but I have a general sense of what will happen on each page. It’s such a fun, creative time in the process, when the possibilities are still wide open. Then comes working with my agents and the editor to improve the story, which is where I learn the most. And finally, of course, seeing the finished book out in the world and in the hands of kids—that’s the best.
Creating books really is a process, isn’t it? I can imagine the artwork and characters being fun to develop.
Tell us about the inspiration for your book.
Original Cat, Copy Cat is about a cat named Pineapple whose sweet life turns sour when new kitten Kiwi comes to stay. The story is inspired by my family’s cats, Comet and Cad, who had a real-life Pineapple/Kiwi relationship. Comet and Cad’s personalities couldn’t have been more different. I drew upon their funny, everyday cat antics as I developed the story. I think fellow cat lovers will relate! On another level, Original Cat, Copy Cat is a classic new sibling story. I’m a middle child with two brothers, so I have experience being both the younger and older sister. Mostly, though, the story is inspired by the wonderfully ordinary but perpetually funny things cats do and their unique personalities.
Oh my, there are so many cat lovers out there! I can see your book appealing to young children and learning to live with siblings is a process.
Tell us about your path to publication.
My debut picture book, Lone Wolf, was published by Greenwillow/HarperCollins in 2020. Original Cat, Copy Cat is part of the same book deal, so the two titles are connected in that way. I’m never quite sure where my path to publication began, but I tend to mark the day in 2012 when I read A Sick Day for Amos McGee as a turning point. That book made me want to make picture books. But I had other priorities at that time. So, it wasn’t until about five years later, once I had settled into my career as a librarian, that I started actively working towards my picture book goals. Then, I had some good fortune: an illustration account with a big following shared one of my drawings. That led me to my agents, who helped me get submission-ready, signed me as client, and secured a book deal with Greenwillow. By then, I already had the idea for Original Cat, Copy Cat, though it wasn’t a fully-realized story until the following year. Then, I worked with the editor (who loves cats, by the way!) over several months to move the story from dummy to final art. The jacket proved tricky. I went through several iterations before landing on the final design. The colors changed too. I tend to gravitate toward desaturated colors, but this story called for a bolder palette, so I changed course, and I’m happy I did. I learned so much making Lone Wolf and Original Cat, Copy Cat. I’m grateful to the agents, editor, and art director who helped me navigate the publishing process.
It’s amazing to think how much art work actually doesn’t make it into the book! And how wonderful that your editor is also a cat lover.
Thanks again for chatting with us, Sarah! We wish you the best with your books. I hope many of our readers well get a chance to read ORIGINAL CAT, COPY CAT soon!
Did you know, I’ve written a couple of books too?
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That’s a wrap! I hope you’ll stop by next week for another interview on Kid Lit Village.