The Backstory: ENOUGH IS...
Author Jessica Whipple joins The Backstory today with her debut, ENOUGH IS...(Tilbury House, 2023) with illustrations by Nicole Wong. Keep reading to learn more and for your chance to win a copy of Jessica's next picture book, I THINK I THINK A LOT.
Welcome to The Backstory and thank you for joining us and sharing the inspiration behind ENOUGH IS….
First off, please tell us a little bit about your story.
Enough Is… is a book about contentment, and how one child discovers–one situation at a time–the fuzzy boundary between wants and needs. The reader gets to watch as this character grows throughout the book and wrestles with the concept of “enough.”
I think this is a book all kids (and adults) need. We as a society are surrounded by so much that it is increasingly hard for children to grasp the concept of what enough is. Your words and Nicole's art beautifully relay this message.
What’s the story behind the story? What was your inspiration? Where did the idea come from?
I first drafted it when my younger of 2 daughters was about a year old and the older was about 4. It was the perfect time in my life to think about writing a picture book (which I hadn’t thought about until this point!). I was surrounded by picture books thanks to my girls, and was inspired by the way picture books captured big ideas in such compact spaces. Finally, I needed a way to illustrate some life struggles we were having with wanting.
That combination of having young children and as a result, being immersed in picture books, seems to be a common catalyst for many to dip their toes into the writing world. I am so glad you were inspired to write ENOUGH IS... as it presents a wonderful lesson for kids and families.
How did you approach going from this seed of an idea to what is now ENOUGH IS…? Was it something undeniable you had to write immediately or did you need to sit with this idea and let it grow for a while before it found its way to the page?
The first part of the idea, which is also the first line of the book, was “Somewhere between a little and a lot, there is Enough.” I composed the rest like a poem, typing lines into my ipad then eventually to paper where I could more easily rearrange them.
I am not surprised at all that that line, being so beautiful and powerful, was what prompted the initial concept.
Did ENOUGH IS… undergo any major changes/revisions from the original version? If so, what led you to make these changes?
Yes! For a while I was submitting a narrative version of the story. As it is now, it’s a quiet book/gentle arc.
That is interesting. It feels like we often hear that quiet books are hard to sell and that more arc and more narrative are the way to go. I personally love quiet books and think that children need access to all types of books.
Where do you tend to find your inspiration or your sparks for ideas?
In parenting, often. Sometimes while playing with my daughters, making stuffed animals or other toys talk. It’s a fun way to try out ideas and brainstorm in the moment.
Making the toys talk is the best idea! It is like getting a trial run meeting the character and exploring their personality before deciding if they are the right fit for a book.
What books have been the most inspirational/impactful on your writing?
Ohmygoodness, so many. But I realized the other day when listening to an old episode of Nick Patton’s “Picturebooking” podcast that early-on in my reading and writing, I was influenced by Antoinette Portis and her work in general. She has an ability to convey ideas with depth even though her word counts are so low and that really captured my attention. I’ll make a note to myself to re-read some of those titles that awakened my curiosity back when this all started…
Antoinette's books are so good for all of the reasons you mentioned. I also really like your idea of revisiting those texts that sparked our initial curiosity in the genre. It is hard to read these books and not be inspired.
What are the must haves for your workspace? Tools? Inspiration? Reference materials?
My workspace is too variable to photograph! When it’s clean, I work in the spare bedroom which doubles as my workspace, but lately I’ve been at the dining room table or at coffee shops. I’d show you the workspace if it were clean!
Any inspirational words of advice for aspiring authors?
Yes! Own the “author” title, even if you’re not published yet. I tell kids at school visits that they’re authors because they have: 1.) Original ideas that they’ve 2.) Written down. That’s all it takes for them; why would it be any different for us?
Impostor syndrome can strike any of us, but your advice is a great way to handle it. If you have ideas and write them down, you are an author. It is as simple as that!
Do you have any upcoming projects or news you would like to share with us?
My second book is called I THINK I THINK A LOT, and it’s coming out in August. It’s inspired by my experience having OCD as a child. I do still have OCD. The book is illustrated (to my great excitement!) by Josée Bisaillon, and it’s published by Free Spirit Publishing, an imprint of Teacher Created Materials.
Congratulations on your second picture book! I can not way to give it a read and enjoy all the beauty of your words and Josée Bisaillon's art.
Where can people connect more with you?
I’m on Twitter and Instagram @JessicaWhippl17, and people can reach me via my website www.AuthorJessicaWhipple.com
Readers be sure to give Jessica a follow and while you are at it, put in a library request or pick up your own copy of ENOUGH IS... which is available now!
Jessica, thank you so much for joining The Backstory. I loved getting to know more about your book and creative process.
Jessica is generously offering one winner a copy of her forthcoming book, I THINK I THINK A LOT. (US only)
Ways to enter:
1. Retweet my tweet about this blog post. Additional entry for tagging friends!
2. Leave a comment on this post.
3. Post about this interview on FB/Instagram and tell me in the comments that you did.
Each method earns an extra entry!
ABOUT JESSICA WHIPPLE
Jessica Whipple is a writer for adults and children. ENOUGH IS... (Illustrated by Nicole Wong, Published by Tilbury House) is her debut picture book. Her second, I THINK I THINK A LOT (Aug 2023 by Free Spirit Books, ills. Josée Bisaillon), was inspired by her experience having OCD as a child. She also writes poetry, and her publication credits and links to poems can be found at www.AuthorJessicaWhipple.com. She'd love to connect on Twitter or IG: @JessicaWhippl17
ABOUT ANDREW HACKET
Andrew Hacket is a teacher by day, parent by night, and writer in the nooks and crannies of life. When it comes to his books, Andrew aims to create stories that tickle the funny bone and hug the heart of readers both young and old.
Andrew is the author of the early reader, CURLILOCKS AND THE THREE HARES (The Little Press, 2024) and the picture book, OLLIE, THE ACORN, AND THE MIGHTY IDEA (Page Street Kids, 2024). Additionally, his short story, THE TUNNEL, has been chosen for inclusion in the SCBWI anthology, The Haunted States of America.
Andrew lives in Massachusetts with his wife, three young children, and puppy, Gus.
Andrew is represented by Dan Cramer of Page Turner Literary.