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Kelly Louise Jarris provides comfort for families in times of adversity, with the notion that special places can be imagined and special bonds can live on forever. Thanks to the gift that is her beautiful picture book, Imagine Our Special Place. Thanks to Kelly for answering our questions about this personal story.
Kelly, congratulations on the release of your second picture book, the heartachingly beautiful, Imagine Our Special Place!
I understand the story stemmed from the loss of your sister. Why did you want to tell this story, and what does it mean to you?
At the time, it was a hard place to be, but for the children, it was more confusing. I wanted to tell a story that could help families imagine their special place when times may be difficult.
It means a lot to me that people have already found it comforting, I have had so many messages from people who get where my book is coming from and understand where my head space was when writing it.
Imagine Our Special Place is a poignant yet light-hearted story that deals with family grief in an enchanting and imaginative way. What other ideas did you aim to elicit to readers through your story?
Imagination was my main focus, as it is with most of my work. I don’t know how many times my kids had come home with an old cereal box from kinder, stuck a pom pom on it and told me it’s an amazing spaceship. To me, it’s a cereal box with a pom pom that I’m going to have to find a spot for in my home. To them, it’s their imaginative creation. Thinking outside the box (excuse the pun) is priceless.
What do you most hope children, parents and educators will gain from reading Imagine Our Special Place?
I hope that parents and educators will gain a comforting way of explaining what may be a hard topic to talk about. Using imagination and putting a light-hearted spin on such a difficult situation could make it easier to talk about in an age-appropriate way.
Tell us about the collaborative process with your illustrator, Sandunika Dissanayake. What do you like about Sandunika’s illustrations, and how do you feel they captured the essence of your story?
The illustrations are perfect. I sourced so many wonderful people and finally found someone I could work with who had a soft approach to my story. I began by getting Sandunika to do one drawing after giving her a brief. I am very thorough when explaining what I need. Colours, tones, age of characters, etc. I sent her drawings I had done and explained what I wanted on each page. We then went back and forth, and she also allowed me to amend some of the artwork and add my touches throughout, which was great. One day I’d love to be able to illustrate my books.
What have been the most rewarding moments of your journey with creating Imagine Our Special Place?
My most rewarding moments with Imagine Our Special Place have been the countless amounts of gratitude and thank you emails I have received from families that have gone through a similar experience. Some have shared their special places and it’s been rewarding to know I’ve helped parents and their children.
You’ve also recently published another beautiful picture book, Wonderful Wishes. What can you tell us about this story and its inspiration?
Wonderful Wishes is there to help parents with getting little ones to bed.
By asking the question, ‘I wonder what your dreams will bring when it’s time for bed?’, I am hoping it sparks a conversation and gets children looking forward to being tucked in. I remember the countless amounts of excuses my boys would always give me before bedtime, just so they could stay up. Talking about dreams they may look forward to helps kids get excited about the night ahead.
Please tell us a bit about your journey into publishing your books with InHouse Publishing. How have they supported you in the process?
Getting my book published has been a long road. Finding an illustrator, and editor and learning how to meter and rhyme without losing my book’s focus has been a challenge.
Getting some help along the way has been a good start to my career and I am looking forward to getting an agent or high-profile publisher to help me move forward.
What’s next for you? Any projects you’re currently working on?
I have so many book ideas ready to go.
One is nearly complete and it’s written with my original passion of rhyme. I am looking forward to sharing that very soon.
Thanks so much for sharing your story, Kelly! 😊
Visit Kelly at her website: Kelly Louise Jarris Books | Australian Children’s Book Author (kljbooks.com)
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