Today my very special guest is Lauren Kerstein. She is a wonderful critique partner, friend, and an amazing human being. Her latest book, HOME FOR A WHILE, is the perfect marriage of her talents as a psychotherapist and picture book author. HOME FOR A WHILE is out in the world today, yes TODAY! I am thrilled to share my interview with Lauren on her book birthday. Cheers to Lauren, her main character Calvin, and the talented illustrator Natalia Moore. I’ll be baking chocolate cake to celebrate.
What were you like at the age of your target audience?
As a child, I was curious, LOVED Pippi-Longstocking, and wanted to please everyone. I lived in my imagination a lot and even pretended catkins or aments (those worm-like thingies that fall off trees) were seahorses. I filled up my baby pool for them so that they had a place to swim. I just loved my “seahorses.”
I think in many ways, I was just a miniature version of adult me. In retrospect, I was fairly introverted and a little unsure, like Calvin. I think I loved Pippi because I wanted to be bold and courageous like her. My character, Rosie the dragon, definitely comes from the Pippi side of my brain, not the Charlie or Calvin side! As a rule-following child/adult, it was cathartic to write about Calvin and Charlie, and freeing to write about Rosie!
What inspires you?
I am inspired by so many things: books I read, spending time with my daughters, taking walks, reading interesting articles, hiking with my husband, daughters, and rescue pup, the poetry of good music, the healing qualities of nature, a crystal-clear blue sky, the smell of firewood burning on a cold winter night, a ladybug who lands on my leg. I try to look at the world with more awe than fear (although that is hard at times.) I love to see silver linings, and the good in people. If I approach my day with an open heart, the day is always brighter.
What is the one thing you hope your readers take away from your books?
My biggest goal, both as a therapist and as an author, is to add more joy to children (and people’s) lives. I would love my readers to walk away from my books with more warmth in their hearts, more hope, and the knowledge that there is so much to feel good about in the world. If my readers laugh along the way, all the better! I also want my readers to walk away feeling enriched by spending time with my characters. I want them to feel like they made new friends.
What can we look forward to next?
I have a number of books in various stages of development, from out on submission to simply a good idea, and everything in between. I am working on fiction picture books, informational fiction picture books, and nonfiction picture book biographies. Some of my books tend toward a more humorous approach, while others are more heartfelt. (Although I hope the humorous books are heartfelt as well.) I am turning a YA into an adult novel slowly but surely, have another YA waiting for attention, have a middle grade begging to be crafted, and another one requesting a revision.
I can’t wait to celebrate HOME FOR A WHILE with Natalia (and you) at our virtual launch party on February 7th.
In the meantime, I love running my critique business, hosting #ReVISIONweek, and “judging” stories with Rate Your Story. I grow so much as a writer when I work with other writers!
Lauren can be reached at: Twitter and Instagram @LaurenKerstein
Lauren has generously offered a copy of HOME FOR A WHILE and some book swag. Comment on the post and share on social media to be entered to win.