The Backstory- LIBRARY'S MOST WANTED
I am excited to introduce Carolyn Leiloglou as our guest today. Carolyn is here to share the inspiration behind her picture book, LIBRARY'S MOST WANTED. She is also the author of the Noah Green, Junior Zookeeper, chapter book series.
Welcome to The Backstory and thank you for joining us and sharing the inspiration behind LIBRARY’S MOST WANTED.
Thanks so much for having me, Andrew! I’m delighted to be here.
First off, please tell us a little bit about your story.
Sure! LIBRARY’S MOST WANTED is the story of Libby, a girl who longs to be a great librarian like her aunt Nora. When her aunt makes her deputy librarian for the day, she gets angry when she sees kids mistreating books. So, Libby hangs up Wanted posters to drive the "outlaws" from her "territory." But when she realizes that a librarian's real job isn't protecting books but connecting them with readers, she must find a way to lure them back.
I love the concept of this story. It would make a great beginning of the year read aloud to introduce students to a classroom library. You could discuss treating books appropriately as well as the idea of connecting with books. So many classroom applications.
What’s the story behind the story? What was your inspiration? Where did the idea come from?
I don’t remember how the idea came to me (though I remember I was at the park with my kids), but it struck me as an interesting juxtaposition. The library with wanted posters? It was a concept I had to explore.
The idea of the wanted posters is such a great starting point! It is amazing to see how that concept evolved.
How did you approach going from this seed of an idea to what is now LIBRARY’S MOST WANTED? 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 brainstorming part began right away. I started with a list. I had to figure out exactly what would be on the library’s most wanted list in a negative sense: dog-earing pages, spilling juice on books, etc. Then I turned it around. What were positive things the library wanted: reading to your sibling, reviewing books, etc.
Actually writing the story was harder and took lots of revisions. The hardest part was figuring out how and why Libby needed a change of heart when she was technically “right” about the things she saw the other kids doing. Treating the books well was good, it just wasn’t the highest good in that situation. People are more important than books, and Libby got that mixed up.
Flipping the concept of the wanted posters to focus on positives was a great idea. Also, I really appreciate you mentioning the need for revisions and how it can be challenging to go from a great idea to a polished manuscript. I think at times we put too much pressure on our first drafts.
Where do you tend to find your inspiration or your sparks for ideas?
I get tons of ideas from things my kids say. I think also just the way my brain works, I’ll hear or see something and just know it would work as a picture book. I like to juxtapose two ideas or to start with a funny pun as a title and explore the story from there.
I also like trying to store up ideas during challenges like Tara Lazar’s Storystorm every January. And I’ll keep adding other ideas to my list during the year. That way, when I’m not sure what to write next, I can pull out my idea list and see what sparks a story.
Those are great strategies for finding inspiration. I know many of us are in the middle of Storystorm now. What a great motivator to store up those ideas to have for later.
What books have been the most inspirational/impactful on your writing?
For picture books, Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul. For longer books, I think The Secrets of Story by Matt Bird has a lot of great insights.
What are the must haves for your workspace? (Tools, inspiration, reference materials, pictures, knickknacks)
Two things I always have are noise cancelling headphones and something to drink. I write in Scrivener on my laptop, so I guess those are also must haves for me. If I have those things, I could write just about anywhere, though I usually write at my tiny desk in the dining room or on the back porch.
Any inspirational words of advice for aspiring authors?
First, commit time to doing the work of learning your craft and writing consistently. And second, find a writing community (12x12 is a great one for picture book writers).
Both such great pieces of advice. There is always more to learn and I can't say enough about finding your people. It makes all the difference!
Do you have any upcoming projects or news you would like to share with us?
Yes! The second book in my Noah Green Junior Zookeeper chapter book series is coming out this spring from Clear Fork Publishing. It’s called Save the Cave, and it’s all about bats.
Congratulations on continuing the series! I love the way you focus on a specific animal in each book. I know a class of second graders who will be eagerly waiting to get their hands on this book.
Where can people connect more with you?
You can find me on social media as housefullofbookworms, and I hang out on Instagram the most. I also have an author site, www.carolynleiloglou.com, with free resources relating to my books. And I review my favorite children’s books at www.housefullofbookworms.com.
Readers be sure to check out LIBRARY'S MOST WANTED by Carolyn Leiloglou and illustrated by Sarah Pogue, out now from Pelican. And be sure to check out Carolyn's chapter book series, Noah Green, Junior Zookeeper.
Carolyn has generously offered a copy of LIBRARY'S MOST WANTED to one lucky winner!
To enter you can...
1. Leave a comment on this post.
2. Retweet my tweet about this blog post. Additional entry for tagging friends!
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ABOUT CAROLYN LEILOGLOU
Carolyn Leiloglou (lay-LAW-glue) lives in San Antonio, Texas with her husband, Demetrios, a pediatrician, and their four kids, who she homeschools. Carolyn’s stories and poems have been published in children’s magazines such as Highlights, Ladybug, Cricket, The School Magazine, and Clubhouse Jr. Carolyn is a member of SCBWI and 12×12 and was a finalist for the 2018 Katherine Paterson Prize. She is represented by Bibi Lewis of the Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency.
ABOUT SARAH POGUE
I am an artist and illustrator with a focus on nature and childhood. I have a degree in Studio Art and Art Education from Carleton College and pursued graduate work in Painting and Illustration at SACI in Florence, Italy.
I am passionate about children’s literature and love creating engaging, lively and inclusive illustrations that bring words to life!
I love teaching art, exploring, the woods and chocolate.
Selected Recent Clients: Pelican Publishing, Pioneer Valley Books, The University of Cincinnati, The Camarago Club
I’D LOVE TO WORK WITH YOU! Send me an e-mail about your illustration or design project firstname.lastname@example.org
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 Flannery Literary.