SIX MINUTES WITH APRIL LEO:
Joining LitPick for Six Minutes with an Author today is April Leo. She is an editor and avid reader who has a passion for writing picture books for children. Her picture book, Little Squirrel, Big Dreams, has received a five star review from a LitPick Student Reviewer (https://litpick.com/review/little-squirrel-big-dreams-review-hawkreader10).
***How did you get started writing?
I have loved to read since I learned how, and my love of writing wasn’t far behind. I remember wanting to be an author in second grade. I used to keep a diary when I was in junior high school, and I was convinced that I was going to write a mystery novel someday. As I grew older and then became an editor, I found it harder and harder to write and to think of ideas that would make good stories.
Little Squirrel, Big Dreams is the second children’s picture book story I have written as an adult. I wrote the first one to cheer up my niece Courtney, who’d just lost her dog. Writing the first story made it far easier for me to write the second.
***Who influenced you?
Although I feel like this question should be easy to answer with specifics, I’m finding it difficult to do so. In fifth grade I attended a writer’s conference for students my age, and my seventh-grade English teacher asked to read some of my stories. Additionally, my mom has always encouraged my creative and scholarly pursuits. So I felt that it was possible that I could write. My love of reading, having good friends who share that love, and working in publishing have all influenced me in some way.
***Do you have a favorite book/subject/character/setting?
The best book I have read is Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. The characters are amazing, compelling, and real. Wein researched diligently and wrote beautifully. I also enjoyed The Rook by Daniel O’Malley. The fanciful world he created seemed to come alive. As far as illustrations go, Adrienne Segur’s creations for The Golden Book of Fairy Tales (translated by Marie Ponsot) have always been my favorites.
***What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?
Don’t get bogged down with the idea of getting your story right or perfect the first time (or ever). I had to completely rewrite what I first wrote of Little Squirrel, Big Dreams because the tone was wrong.
Writing isn’t always about being the best. It is partly about doing it and being willing to fail, and being willing to pick it up again. Even if you have the best story in the whole world, if you don’t write it down, then people will never get to read it and they will instead read the stories that have been written. So make your story one of those that has been written!
***Where is your favorite place to write?
I prefer to write somewhere comfortable, usually the couch. But for me it isn’t so much where as when—I like to write when I’m feeling less restrained and more creative.
***What else would you like to tell us?
You can follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/littlesquirreldreams. When I publish Little Pigeon, Big Dreams, the sequel to Celeste’s story, you’ll hear about it there.
Follow your dreams!
April, thanks for joining us to inspire people to write down the stories that are floating around in their heads. We look forward to your next book.