The Backstory: GOODNIGHT GANESHA
Today we welcome Nadia Salomon to share the backstory behind her gorgeous debut picture book, GOODNIGHT GANESHA. Keep reading to find out what inspired Nadia and the changes her manuscript went through on its way to becoming a published book.
Welcome to The Backstory and thank you for joining us and sharing the inspiration behind GOODNIGHT GANESHA.
Thank you so much for having me on Backstory Andrew! I’ve been a fan of your blog from the moment you talked about it. And I’m so thrilled things are taking off and love your commitment to the kidlit community. I truly appreciate all you do!
Thank you, Nadia! I have found so much support in the kidlit community and I hope that this blog is one small way to give back and help out other authors.
First off, please tell us a little bit about your story.
Goodnight Ganesha is a gorgeously illustrated, rhyming bedtime picture book. It’s written in the vein of Goodnight Moon. Our story features two siblings who visit their grandparents overseas and share their bedtime routine with readers. It's about bonding with older relatives, celebrating family, culture, and creating lasting memories.
The themes in this are superb and you have expertly elevated the narrative of Goodnight Moon with your layers of family and culture. Between your lyrical language and Poonam's exquisitely detailed illustrations, I felt transported right along with the children in the text.
What’s the story behind the story? What was your inspiration? Where did the idea come from?
The story behind Goodnight Ganesha was a lark, inspired by my child. Big-10 loved reading Goodnight Moon. Even learned how to read the story on own - memorized it. One day, as we read it together, Big-10 asked, “Why can’t you write a story like that about us, and what we do before bed?” My immediate response was, “Maybe someone else will write it.” Big-10 responded without hesitation, “Well, why not you Manmie? You’re a writer.” And so, sparked the idea.
I love this inspiration so much! The wisdom of children is amazing and I am so glad that Big-10 had the belief in you to suggest you take on the challenge of writing this book. The results are amazing.
How did you approach going from this seed of an idea to what is now GOODNIGHT GANESHA? 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?
It was an immediate draft. It flowed quickly. It’s one of my ‘hot potato stories’. It’s hot and I have to write it down. Once I had the words and imagery in mind, I started to write it. Seeing that we were reading Goodnight Moon, I wrote the draft in rhyme. I followed a similar format, style, and even stayed at the 136 word count.
But the story changed and took shape as I revised through my critique group. After landing my agent in March 2018, I shared the ms. I was advised to make it my own and more lyrical. I took the advice and editorial notes given. I rewrote the story as a narrative and got rid of the rhyme. In January of 2019 we went out on sub. We sold Goodnight Ganesha six months later. Funny enough, the editor asked for a rewrite in rhyme. Goodnight Ganesha was undeniably meant to be written in rhyme!
Having had the opportunity to read GOODNIGHT GANESHA already, I can wholeheartedly agree that it seems like it was always meant to be in rhyme. Your text flows so beautifully and the rhyme and format give us the nostalgic nod to GOODNIGHT MOON.
I am always fascinated by the changes a manuscript goes through from draft to agent to editor and appreciate you sharing the journey GOODNIGHT GANESHA went through on the way to publication.
Where do you tend to find your inspiration or your sparks for ideas?
I don’t need to look any further than Big-10 or from mining my own childhood memories.
Spending time with children and our interactions with them is an almost sure-fire way to spark an idea. And mining memories is one of my favorite strategies not just for ideas, but also to put myself in a childlike mindset.
What books have been the most inspirational/impactful on your writing?
Most of the mentor texts (PBs, MGs, GNs, etc.) on my bookshelf inspire me for different reasons. I love books that emotionally resonate or have a strong POV. I also keep cheat sheets and composition notebooks from sessions I’ve taken at conferences with ‘sound’ craft advice that help me write more efficiently. And as far as craft books go…
It’s the usual suspects:
Ann Whitford Paul, Writing Picture Books
Uri Shulevitz, Writing with Pictures
Alijandra Mogilner, Children's Writer's Word Book
Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, The Emotion Thesaurus
I have others that were recommended and I’ve tried, but these four titles are ALWAYS the ones I refer back to the most. And a cheat sheet from one of my Storyteller Academy sessions with Arree Chung.
All four are wonderful, tried and true resources. And what a great idea to keep a notebook with the most salient lessons learned from workshops and conferences. It's like building your own reference resource.
What are the must haves for your workspace? Tools? Inspiration? Reference materials?
Must haves: COFFEE, notebooks, sharpies/pencils, music, the above referenced materials, and my cell on silent (to keep track of my time).
Tools: My two laptops. Tank is my 12+ year old Sony Vaio and my new laptop - a Lenovo (Unnamed at the moment). I’m trying to transition from Tank, “My beast!” over to the ‘New Kid’, but finding it so, so hard to transition.
Inspiration: All my tchotkes in my space and music.
Reference materials: The latter two titles from my usual suspects list above are always a hand stretch away.
Any inspirational words of advice for aspiring authors?
BIC it and JUST DO IT! Don’t wait for permission to do anything, ask for forgiveness instead. Because, nothing happens if you don’t throw yourself out there.
So true! There are many writing adjacent tasks that can steal our precious writing time. I'm looking at you Twitter! BIC is the best way to combat this and ensure we are continuing to grow as writers and producing new material.
Do you have any upcoming projects or news you would like to share with us?
I have a yet to be announced project in the works I can’t say more about. I have some movement on another title and am on sub with some niche stories I’m really hoping will find a home soon. Keeping my fingers crossed and looking forward.
Yay for secret projects! I look forward to when you can announce and will keep my fingers crossed for you on your other titles.
Where can people connect more with you?
(IG) - @nadiasalomon.author
(TW) - @Nadia_Salomon
(Web) - www.nadiasalomon.com
Readers be sure to connect with Nadia on social media and pop over to her beautiful website to learn even more about her and her work. Also, don't forget to keep your eyes open for GOODNIGHT GANESHA (Philomel Books, 2021) with illustrations by Poonam Mistry, releasing August 31.
Nadia thank you so much for joining us on The Backstory and congratulations on GOODNIGHT GANESHA.
Nadia is generously offering a copy of GOODNIGHT GANESHA to one lucky winner.
Ways to enter:
1. Retweet my tweet about this blog post. Additional entry for tagging friends!
2. Leave a comment on this post.
3. Like our FB page and comment on this week's post.
4. Post about this interview on FB/Instagram and tell me in the comments that you did.
Each method earns an extra entry!
ABOUT NADIA SALOMON
Nadia lives in northern California with her family. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism and Public Policy from Emerson College and has worked in television and print news. She writes picture book, middle-grade, and graphic novel manuscripts with themes of South Asian and Caribbean culture, STEM, non-fiction, and humor. Nadia is the winner of the 2020 SCBWI Service Award and the 2019 SCBWI WOOP Honor Award for work of outstanding progress on her non-fiction, picture book manuscript, MYRLIE: A VOICE OF HOPE.
ABOUT ANDREW HACKET
Andrew’s background of being surrounded by children, both at work and at home, has been a treasure trove of inspiration.
A nature lover, Andrew can be found exploring the woods of Massachusetts with his wife and three kids.
While often witty and imaginative, Andrew’s stories can also delve into the more serious and emotional topics that children can experience.
Andrew is represented by Dan Cramer of Page Turner Literary.