Today I continue the series of interviews with other authors. I am welcoming Katie Hopmann to the blog, who has recently released an amazing children’s book called “The Kings Invitation.”
Katie, tell us a little about yourself. What are some of your hobbies and interests?
Katie: I graduated from Ouachita Baptist University last spring with a major in Studio Art and minors in Writing and Christian Studies. While I lived in Arkansas as a student, I enjoyed long walks and hikes- especially when the trees changed colors in the fall. Now, I live in Cypress, TX. I work as a free-lance illustrator and part time nanny. I spend a lot of time with kids. I teach homeschool art lessons, and serve kids at my church on Wednesdays and Sundays.
Michael: Maybe I will have you back sometime to talk more specifically about illustrating. I find that subject fascinating, but for now, let’s move on.>
Out of all the books you can create, why create a children’s book?
Katie: There’s a difference between a children’s book and a picture book. I write children’s books because I am constantly thinking about how kids think and how they could learn. I love considering what might make them laugh, and want to do the best job I can at connecting with the next generation. However, my first love is the picture book, which depends on visual storytelling to give meaning to the text. Children ages 3-93 can discover meaning within pictures. Unlike text that often tells you how to feel or think, pictures convey something that people have to discover for themselves.
Michael: I never knew the difference between a children’s book and a picture book. I love the idea of the picture communicating more than just the words you read!
What are some of your own favorite books from when you were a child?
Katie: The Giving Tree, Green Eggs and Ham, the Frog and Toad series
Michael: Green eggs and ham, a personal favorite!
Are there other children’s books that The Kings Invitation is similar to?
Katie: Maybe I need to read more, but I struggle to relate this book with another children’s book I’ve read.
Michael: Having read it, I do agree. I’ve not found one that I can relate it to, which makes it incredibly unique and I must say, spectacular. I highly recommend this to anyone with kids.
Now, where did you come up with the name The Kings Invitation?
Katie:The Original name was “The Boy Who Loved the King.” My editor suggested “A Royal Invitation,” and then we finally settled on “The King’s Invitation.”
This is just one example of how many influences went in to the formation of this book. My original draft, there were no invitations in the story. Now it’s in the title!
Michael: I love that. I think as authors and writers, we’re aware of the help others give us along the way. Publishing really is a team effort.
I have to say, the art in The Kings Invitation is gorgeous. Did you do the art yourself, and what inspired you?
Katie: Thank you, yes. I worked through many different styles before going with what you find in the book. I love black line drawings (like Shel Silverstein’s work) but also enjoy working with the texture of watercolor. The final product is a mixture of ink and watercolor I did by hand and digital drawing and rendering I did with a drawing tablet.
Michael: As I said earlier, this is all fascinating to me, I’ve really not looked into illustrating much but there’s so much to learn about it and you ate truly great at it.
On that note, are there other artists or illustrators that have inspired you? If so, how?
Katie:There’s so many! Illustrators that have particularly inspired me are Shel Silverstein (for his ability to communicate so much within squiggles of black ink), and Peggy Rathmann (for her ingenious visual storytelling)
Michael: If you’re not familiar with their work, I encourage you to go and check them out.
What’s one word of advice you can give to writers who wish to be published in children’s literature?
Katie: I’m still learning how to do this well, but I would encourage writers to write…and write…and write some more, focusing on making their craft the best it can. Worrying about how your work will be published will suck the joy right out of creating something truly fresh.
Michael: Good advice Katie, thank you.
Is there anything particular you had to overcome to accomplish this?
Katie: Early on I had to decide that words like edit, revise, re-draw, or change were not going to be negative words. I had to learn when and how to stick with my original ideas and when it was important to take advice and direction from critiques. That’s hard because after thinking about a story for almost 2 years it becomes like a baby.
Michael: I certainly agree. I received some very blunt critiques from my original work as well, but those critiques helped me write a lot more precisely.
As we close, what are some ways that people can contact you on?
Katie: My website is the best place to learn more about my work: http://www.heartworkbykatie.com
That can connect you to everything else.
Michael: Katie, it’s been a pleasure interviewing you for this blog. Thanks so much for sharing your hard work and insights. Once again, if you have children, or if you simply want to read a very enjoyable book with great illustrations, check this out. I highly recommend it!
And in case you want a direct link to buying it, you can do so with this link: http://www.heartworkbykatie.com/the-kings-invitation.html