We were both adamant that this collection feature protagonists living with mental health conditions and be written by authors with lived mental health experiences. There are many incredible stories out there that aren’t written from lived experience, but we wanted this anthology’s mere existence to be a testament to how those living with mental health conditions can still chase dreams and lead fulfilling lives.
“I started out writing for adults and so when I published my first children’s book, after 15 years of writing for adults, I couldn’t believe what a warm welcome I got. People were immediately supportive and eager to share information. The collegiality of kidlit authors is one of the things that I love the most about this field.”
Linda Urban’s stories are studded with angst, anguish, and hope, as well as problems, pathos, and humor. She is stellar at structuring stories so that something small, seemingly insignificant, becomes the integral to the climax and the protagonist’s understanding of the situation. In Talk Santa To Me, surprisingly, it’s a gaudy silver Christmas wreath that takes this hefty role.
“My feeling is that if we are true to where our particular characters are developmentally, experientially, and philosophically, and we write from that place, we can write work that will connect with readers.” –Linda Urban
Karen Krossing shares her publishing journey–it’s been a long and fruitful one!–as well as her exploration of writing in various categories, from YA to picture books, and details of her writing process.
In January 2023, I had the pleasure of being the guest blogger for The Official SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Blog. Here are links to the posts, in case you missed them.
Louise Hawes: I often spend months (sometimes years) filling a notebook with my character’s responses and thoughts before I begin writing an actual draft. That notebook is all in long-hand, as you know, and I don’t stop to edit or erase anything. My characters’ letters are in the first person, and result from a fluid, bodily connection from my heart to my hand to the page. In contrast, my draft will be typed on a laptop, the far less spontaneous product of me thinking and feeling my way into a story that features the character whose voice has already filled my notebook.
By setting up a compelling story question in the reader’s mind, and then increasing the stakes throughout the second act, Joanna Ho has crafted the perfect crisis with its excellent Irreconcilable Goods options.
The more specific a story, the more universal it becomes. This is one of the most enduring bits of writing advice I have ever received. When we can write to one particular story, experience, character with specific detail and nuance, it makes it real. It feels true. There are always spaces to find our shared humanity, and this is only possible when we come to understand the richness around us.
Sarah Aronson: “No two projects emerge the same way, but I will commit to this: my process is aggressively playful. It’s my policy NEVER to say no to an idea until I’ve tried it out.”