3 Question Interview - ALAYNE KAY CHRISTIAN
I'm thrilled to have Alayne Kay Christian on my blog today answering my 3 Question Interview about Stories . . . Creativity . . . Connection --
1) STORIES – Discuss what inspires your ideas and stories, and share your process regarding your latest projects.
First, I want to thank you, Melissa, for inviting me to be a guest on your blog. My story ideas are inspired in many ways. Ideas are everywhere, so as long as I continue to see, hear, smell, feel and think with my writer’s mind and body the ideas keep coming.
My latest project is the SIENNA, THE COWGIRL FAIRY chapter book series. It was inspired by my granddaughter, my advanced course instructor at The Institute for Children’s Literature, SCBWI’s Lin Oliver, my southern-raised father, and my spunky spirit as a child and adult. I imagine there’s a little bit of self in every author’s characters. Sienna has a lot of me in her.
When my granddaughter was about five, we were talking about what it might be like to be able to fly. She said she would fly up to the ceiling fan and take a ride. My first picture book version of SIENNA, THE COWGIRL FAIRY had Sienna earning her fairy wings and taking a ride on a ceiling fan. As the story progressed, my ICL instructor suggested I really play up the Texas cowgirl, and Sienna was born. Lin Oliver played a role in the series because she inspired me to expand my picture book into a chapter book.
My first picture book, BUTTERFLY KISSES FOR GRANDMA AND GRANDPA, was also inspired by my granddaughter. The story was born out of the struggle and longing I experienced as a “remote” grandparent and my dedication to ensuring that my granddaughter felt my husband’s and my love no matter how many miles were between us.
My forthcoming picture book MISCHIEVOUS MAVERICK was inspired by people who make sport of being bullies. But it was also inspired by my granddog who was quite mischievous but always seemed to benefit from an active day at doggy day care. And then there are the little yapper dogs that are so tiny but huge in action and voice.
My process depends on the project. I tend to be a pantster, but I’m finding that outlines are very helpful, especially with chapter books. I still allow the story to unfold naturally but I have some direction, too. So, with my chapter books, I start with a basic outline. Then I move onto my first draft, letting it unfold naturally. After I sit with it a while, I start examining how it looks from a technical perspective and go from there to start filling in the story. Most of my picture books have been written pantster style and then developed further later.
2) CREATIVITY -- How do you showcase your creative side through writing/illustrating and other pursuits?
I prefer to keep my creative side as free as possible so that ideas and stories come to me organically. I love to sit and think. I like to lie in bed in the morning and let my mind flow. I like to be sparked by other people’s creativity. I find that if I get too busy with other writing related work such as critiques, networking, helping others, and so on my creativity suffers. I also find that if I get too obsessed with the idea of publication, securing a new agent, being “successful” my creativity suffers. So, it is a fine balance. If I don’t stay aware, my creativity slips away. Well, actually it just hides from me because I know it will never leave me. Creativity is a large part of who I am. I like to think that my books, my blog, and my course all showcase my creativity.
3) CONNECTION -- How do you connect to your young readers through your writing/illustrating, and how do you stay connected to the kidlit community?
The first way I connect with young readers is by writing books that I believe will touch them in some way. I stay in touch with the child within me by observing children in conversation, at play, and all around me. And I take trips down memory lane to recall my experiences from a child’s perspective. School and library visits are always a perfect way to connect with young readers. My granddaughter is a great connection because she is also a wonderful conversationalist. We also have fun writing silly stories together. When it comes to chapter books, I will be new at connecting with chapter book readers, so I’m brainstorming and researching. I would love to have a blog that connects with my readers, but as Sienna would say, I ain’t put that puzzle together yet.
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Thanks so much, Alayne! I really look forward to reading all about SIENNA! Congratulations to my Spork Sister!
Alayne Kay Christian is an award-winning children’s book author and a certified life coach. Her picture book BUTTERFLY KISSES FOR GRANDMA AND GRANDPA received the Mom’s Choice Awards gold medal and an IPPY Awards silver medal. Alayne’s SIENNA, THE COWGIRL FAIRY chapter book series launches very soon with the first book, SIENNA, THE COWGIRL FAIRY: TRYING TO MAKE IT RAIN. Her picture book MISCHIEVOUS MAVERICK is scheduled to be released early 2018. She is the creator and teacher of a picture book writing course, Art of Arc: How to Write and Analyze Picture Book Manuscripts. Alayne and her husband are full-time RVers and part-time sailors.
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