Interview with Lisa Kerr

Welcome to another #ChatWithThePBLady Today I’m talking with Lisa Kerr about her new book WAKE, SLEEPY ONE. Illustrations by Lisa Powell Braun.

📚Glitter. Yay or nay? 

I’m a mom to four little ones, two of which are girls, so yes to glitter. The messier the better!

📚Favorite cereal? 

I’m going to go with Special K, or “short cake” as my kids call it.

📚What’s your favorite room in the house? 

The only one that’s clean. Just kidding, that doesn’t exist with small children. My bedroom is my favorite. I love sleeping, but I also write from my corner desk. 

📚What’s your favorite time of day to write?

 I’m a working mother of triplets and a baby, so my favorite time of day to write doesn’t exist right now. Like anything, though, this is just a season. One day my children will be in school or will have left the house and I’ll be missing all the messes and noises and lack of free time. I do sometimes find time to write very early in the morning or very late at night and sometimes on the weekends. If I get time away on weekends I like to go to the mountains or a nearby beach and take some inspiration with me. I write on my phone if that’s all I have and revise in the car. It’s not glamorous, but it’s real life. This is what a working mom and author’s creative process looks like. 

📚Let’s talk about the book WAKE, SLEEPY ONE. Your book tells the beautiful story of the life of a California Poppy. What was your inspiration for this book? 

As I mentioned above, I love being outdoors. I grew up hiking and exploring with my family so it always takes me back to my roots. When my babies were little we took a day trip to see the California super bloom. I knew nothing about it at the time and didn’t dream it would ever be a book, let alone my debut, but the more I read about the history of the park and the desert environment, I knew there was a book starting to develop in my mind. I was a fourth-grade teacher at the time and there were a few curriculum gaps related to desert ecosystems and early California history, so I used that as a jumping-off point for the book and WAKE, SLEEPY ONE was born. 

đź“šWhat was the research process like?

 My research started in the park by reading anything and everything I could find–brochures, signs, etc. From there I got in touch with one of the state park interpreters and spent many months working with her. I scoured books and the internet for everything I could find. Research is an adventure in its own right, as any nonfiction writer will tell you. I had a few random ideas I explored along the way and met some of the most interesting experts who were somehow tied to the research. I even found a fascinating tidbit of history that I hope will be the subject of a future book. 

📚What was the most fascinating thing you learned during the research and writing process? 

Probably the bit I just mentioned above, but I’ll save that for a future book. Like many good stories, it can take more research and time for an idea to fully develop. Stories have a way of making sure they get told, according to one of my editors, and this story will be no exception. 

📚If someone wanted to learn more about the California poppy what resources would you point them toward? 

I would suggest my book, of course! The book has a lot of fascinating facts in the back for young botanists and educators, including a list of places to find blooms nearby. I also included a section called “Read More” where my readers can do further research and reading. There’s nothing greater than going outside to see some California poppies firsthand, though, so take the book and go for a hike. 

📚Is there anything else you’d like to share about your book? 

This book is beautifully illustrated by Lisa Powell Braun. I wanted to share that because I spent months researching botanical illustrations and the role they played in the preservation of the California poppy. Botanical art has always been around and it was one of the main entry points for women to enter the field of science–medicine, in particular. Botany and early medicine go hand in hand. While women weren’t formally taught science, they were often active in collecting and documenting plant specimens. The documentation was almost always done as sketches or watercolor art, along with accompanying handwritten notes. The fact that Lisa Powell Braun so accurately depicted the California poppy in WAKE, SLEEPY ONE, especially her scientific illustrations of the plant parts, is a nod to early female scientists and this historical trend.

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