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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Hacket

The Backstory: WE MOVE THE WORLD

Today, The Backstory welcomes Kari Lavelle and her picture book, WE MOVE THE WORLD (HarperCollins, 2021) with illustrations by Nabi H. Ali. Kari is here to share the inspiration behind her debut as well as her tips and advice for aspiring authors. Be sure to read to the end for your chance to win your choice of a critique or a signed copy of WE MOVE THE WORLD.

Welcome to The Backstory and thank you for joining us and sharing the inspiration behind WE MOVE THE WORLD.

First off, please tell us a little bit about your story.

Thank you for having me, Andrew! WE MOVE THE WORLD is a nonfiction picture book that connects the everyday things that kids do with historical people and events that have changed the world.

This is a fabulous concept and it really makes the extraordinary accomplishments of these figures more relatable and accessible for children. It sends the message that each and every child reading or listening to the story has the potential to achieve great things. The layer of nonfiction information is perfectly sized to entice and introduce young readers to changemakers of our world and those looking for more need only flip to the backmatter for further exploration.

What’s the story behind the story? What was your inspiration? Where did the idea come from?

I missed the Women’s March in 2017 and 2018 but out of my FOMO (fear of missing out), I reflected on why people walk for different causes and in March 2018, I wrote the first draft. After about five rounds of revisions, it sold to HarperCollins in August 2018. The current manuscript was the result of conversations with my editor, Nancy Inteli - I’m really proud of how we pushed the concept to what it is now.

The process of revision and growth that a manuscript undergoes is one of my favorite parts of writing picture books. And reflecting on the evolution of a piece from idea to polished manuscript is a great way to see the strides both you and your story are making.

How did you approach going from this seed of an idea to what is now WE MOVE THE WORLD? 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?

This idea, writing the first draft and the revisions were relatively quick and effortless compared to my other manuscripts. Most of my other projects percolate much longer than this one did.

Isn't that an amazing feeling when the words flow like that? It can seem like magic.

Where do you tend to find your inspiration or your sparks for ideas?

Ideas are always popping into my head - I’m curious by nature. I love going down research rabbit holes and exploring concepts. Idea generation is the easy part for me; following through with revisions is the tough part!

Following those seemingly random sparks of ideas can take you down some interesting paths, make time go by in a flash, and leave a peculiar search history. It is so satisfying when these creative explorations yield inspiration and motivation to get going with your next WIP.

What books have been the most inspirational/impactful on your writing?

I’m reading KEEP MOVING: NOTES ON LOSS, CREATIVITY AND CHANGE by Maggie Smith and it’s perfect for daily inspiration before a writing session. BIG MAGIC: CREATIVE LIVING BY FEAR by Elizabeth Gilbert is my favorite book on craft and creativity.

Great recommendations! I love the idea of kick-starting the inspiration through reading prior to jumping into a writing session.

What are the must-haves for your workspace? Tools? Inspiration? Reference materials?

I always write with a cup of hot tea at my desk. Squibler’s The Most Dangerous Writing App (it’s a website) is so much fun for me. It requires me to keep writing without pauses for the word count/time I select or the text disappears! It’s not everyone’s idea of fun but I love it! I also like using the Hanx app on my iPad - the sound of a typewriter but the convenience of a digital document! I use Pinterest to organize sources, save new ideas and create mood boards. Here’s my stand-up desk and sit-down desk in my office:

Thank you so much for sharing these resources! Squibler's may have put a delay on this post as I was hooked. Warning: There is a very high likelihood of increased anxiety while using this site. Proceed at your own risk.

But seriously, if fast drafting is on your agenda and you need motivation (the fear of your word fading away before your very eyes), Squibler's could be exactly what you are looking for.

Any inspirational words of advice for aspiring authors?

BIC (Butt In Chair) is the only way it gets done (or at a standing desk!). Write what brings joy to you, not what’s necessarily marketable.

Both great pieces of advice! Without BIC you have nothing to show and if you are trying to please others or write to a market that is not authentic to who you are, you probably won't be motivated to get your butt in that chair. I'm feeling an If You Give A Mouse A Cookie vibe.

Do you have any upcoming projects or news you would like to share with us?

I have an unannounced picture book biography coming that I’m so excited to share with everyone. It’s very special to me and has had quite the journey!

Yay! Yay! Yay! I love when our guests have good news to share and more books to look forward to. Congrats on the upcoming book. I can't wait for the official announcement!

Where can people connect more with you?


Instagram= karilavellewrites

Twitter= karialavelle

Readers be sure to show Kari some love by following her and checking out her website. While you are at it, don't forget to get your hands on her debut, WE MOVE THE WORLD (HarperCollins, 2021) illustrated by Nabi H. Ali.

Kari thank you so much for joining The Backstory and sharing all about WE MOVE THE WORLD and what inspires you as an author.



Kari is giving one randomly selected winner the choice of a pb manuscript critique or a signed copy of WE MOVE THE WORLD.

Ways to enter:

1. Comment on my tweet about this blog post with your choice of prize. Additional entry for tagging friends!


2. Leave a comment on this post. Be sure to let us know which prize you prefer if selected.


3. Like our FB page and comment on this week's post.

Each method earns an extra entry!



I am the author of the picture book, WE MOVE THE WORLD (HarperCollins 2021), and a not-yet-announced picture book biography. I have always had a love for words: as a kid reading books, as a speech pathologist helping children communicate, and now as a writer creating stories. I live in Austin, Texas with my husband and our two kids and two dogs.

I'm looking forward to getting to know you too (if we're not already acquainted, that is!).



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.

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Amy Benoit
Amy Benoit
Jul 10, 2021

Love the inspiration and am excited to try some new strategies to kick my writing into high gear. Thanks for the BIC reminder too. WMTW sounds amazing.


SK Wenger
SK Wenger
Jul 08, 2021

Congratulations, Kari! Your book sounds amazing, I look forward to reading and sharing it. A critique would be fabulous, or a book, equally incredible. Whichever fits best, if I'm lucky. :)


Cathy Ballou Mealey
Cathy Ballou Mealey
Jul 08, 2021

Fantastic post. Can't wait for your book!


Jul 08, 2021

Kari, Congratulations! Love learning how authors PB's become a reality!

If I become the lucky winner, either prize would be appreciated! :)

Thanks Andrew for another great post!


Rosanna Ricchetti
Rosanna Ricchetti
Jul 08, 2021

Congratulations Kari. Look forward to reading your book — it sounds so interesting! And I have heard about that one app - sounds so stressful so I’ll have to try It! I’d love a critique — thanks for the opportunity. Look forward to your upcoming book too! All the best. Thanks for the interview Andrew.

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