Hello Readers and thanks for coming back to Kid Lit Village! If it is your first time visiting the blog, then you need to know I do interviews with children’s authors and illustrators on Mondays, inspirational quotes on Wednesdays, and book reviews on Fridays. This week I’m thrilled to feature Chelsea Lin Wallace and her new book, A HOME NAMED WALTER, illustrated by Ginnie Hsu, published by Feiwel and Friends.
Welcome to the Kid Lit Village blog, Chelsea! We’re so glad you had time to chat today.
Tell us why you write books for children.
There is a scene in the iconic Super Bowl “Friends” episode where Phoebe is asked to play her music for children. She looks nervous and when Chris Issak asks her why, she says she “normally plays for grown-ups, but kids – they listen.” This oddly enough sums up the joy of writing for children. They listen. They are ready to go on this journey with you and they end up taking you on an even better one in the end. The relationship starts between you and the story and evolves into a relationship between story and child. But what that child feels inspired to do with that relationship can take you places you never imagined. If I can write anything that somehow inspires a child to share their own stories with the world, I’m complete.
Chelsea Lin, I know what you mean. Children are so receptive to what you put out for them and if that’s your motivation, then writing for children becomes a reward in itself.
Tell us about the inspiration for your book.
Ever since I was teeny tiny, I could feel a spirit in most everything around me. It used to drive my parents bananas because I’d never ever dare throw anything out. I’d feel so sorry for that thing sitting in the trash. I soon became a rescuer of discarded toys and abandoned stuffed animals. I once brought home a 5-foot yellow bear stuffed with beans and covered in filth that I found at a yard sale. Needless to say, my parents, for as many years as they could stomach, had dozens of boxes of my things in the garage.
Then there was Woolly. Woolly was my lovey, a stuffed wombat. He was most certainly alive and I don’t say that with a wink-wink – I honestly believe to this day my love loved him alive. Unfortunately when I was 12yo, I lost Woolly on an airplane. I still grieve that loss. The first few picture book stories I wrote had so much to do with that ache, but I wrote them from his point of view. Like – if I felt these feelings, what must he have felt? And what came of him?
On top of all of this, I moved around a ton as a kid. Gosh, a dozen houses and 4 states before the age of 10. Can you imagine how I felt about each house we left and each home we made?
All of this is to say, Walter likely has been living with me for a while and decided it was time I tell his story.
Moving to a new house is such a huge change in a child’s life. I love that you wrote from your perspective of strong attachment to a home.
Share a piece of advice for children’s writers.
I’m sure you’ve heard the big p’s: persistence, patience, passion. I’m sure you’ve heard the do’s and don’ts: do you, don’t compare yourself to others.
For me, it’s simple. I can’t not write for kids.
If you can’t not do this, than you are right where you need to be.
If you were hoping for slightly less abstract advice, I’ll offer that I think of all my stories in terms of music. A truly brilliant song hooks you in the first few notes, it arcs, it sings, it begs me to listen to it again, and it creates an emotional shift. That shift is essential. I don’t need stories to have x,y,z in order to be amazing but I do need them to create a shift. It can be in the form of a “ha” or “ahh” or “ohh” or “ooh” or “gasp”. A few of my favorite stories that do this: Jerome By Heart, After the Fall, Grinch Who Stole Christmas, I Want My Hat Back, A House is House for Me.
Finally, and maybe most important, never underestimate children. Don’t forget, they listen.
Chelsea Lin, thank you for sharing some of your favorite stories. I love these ones too! A House is a House for Me is such a classic.
Tell us how you build yourself up in the face of rejection.
At first, I accept. I honor the ache and I feel all the feels. It hurts, I don’t deny that.
Then, I access. I have an immensely powerful tool belt of internal work I have honed over the years. These aren’t quick fixes and the tools need constant maintenance. I practice recovery steps, I study my human design, I work The Artists Way with my critique group, and I use learnings from my 8-week self-discovery course called Epic Authors Academy with Jess Keating. I access myself in the truest sense in order to recover when things get tough.
Then, when I’m ready, I get into action.
For me, service is my best action forward. I reach out to others and ask if they need anything (a shoulder, a critique, a chat). Why this works for me is that a lot of my issues with rejection are ego-based and getting out of self – weakens that stronghold.
Then, finally, I can get back to work.
These won’t work for everyone but I encourage you to explore who you are at your core – how do you operate? What are your triggers? What does your internal narrative sound like? What actions help you?
My most favourite point you make here is acceptance. That has to be the first step. Without that, it is impossible to move forwards. Thanks again for doing the interview and being part of the Kid Lit Village.
Connect with Chelsea here!
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