This month I’m delighted to catch up with debut picture book author Joanna Watts. We worked together for around a year as she developed her utterly charming, natural-world story When Duck Got Stuck which Jo has now self-published. Welcome to my Q and A, Jo, and thank you for sharing your insights into the picture book as an artform. Music to my ears!
What inspired your project?
My own happy memories as a young child in Cornwall, England, and the joy and innocence of carefree summer days spent on my bike, exploring the picturesque countryside. The enchanting beauty of a lush woodland and the peaceful sounds within – of a trickling stream, and the creatures that live below the shady canopies of large trees, overgrown shrubs and in and around the muddy lakes.
Also, my young daughter and her innate love of nature and our natural environment. Her intrigue in animal behavior, and wide-eyed curiosity of their habitats and protecting their precious environment.
What was your biggest challenge?
Originally my story was written in rhyme, and the words seemed to tumble from my mind onto the paper. I was advised to rework the story into straightforward prose, and I found it tricky to join the structural building blocks of my picture book story, whilst understanding that brevity is key.
What’s your favorite aspect of the book?
The relationship between the protagonist Lou, and her gentle and loyal sidekick Pru. What a wonderful team they make!
What have you learned along the way?
I’ve learned that picture book writing is an artform! Understanding that the interplay between what’s written and what’s shown in the illustrations is vital for a well-structured story.
Top Tips for debut writers.
Whatever your creative project, do not wait for the light to be green to give it a go. START! Find a mentor or someone that will guide and support you, and champion you and your creativity.
You can order When Duck Got Stuck via links on Jo’s website at the recommended price of £8.99.