Ellie and Lou author
©Karoline Urena

How old were you when you wrote your first book?

10-year-old. I am still 10, I’ll be 11 in January.

How did you become a published author?

I wrote the story of my first book at school, before spring break, my teacher read it, liked it and she encouraged me to enter the story in a writing contest organized by the school district and I end up winning a spot within the category I entered. They were organizing a ceremony to celebrate the winners; I was super excited; it was something I was looking forward to, then COVID-19 happened, and the ceremony was cancelled, I was extremely disappointed. Then during the lockdown, my 4th-grade teacher, Ms. Chan, asked us to work on a Passion Project, anything we wanted, that is when I thought, what about publishing a picture book.

How do you write a picture book?

First, I have an idea, a general idea about what the story is going to be about, usually the beginning and the ending, then I start writing, choosing the characters and imagining their personalities.

What inspires your stories?

My love of animals inspired both Ellie and Lou books.

Where do you get your story ideas?

Stories just pop into my mind, sometimes when I am playing, however very few get written.

 What is your favourite thing about writing picture books?

My favourite thing besides actually writing is designing the look of the book, seeing the illustrations, and seeing the printed book for the first time. Also, when I know other kids are enjoying my books and being inspired to read, write or to be kind to others.

What is your least favourite thing?

After you write the first draft, you must revise, edit, rewrite, and then revise and rewrite some more until are happy with the story.

What is the hardest part of publishing a book?

Be open to hearing criticism, that is not always easy. You should be able to accept negative feedback and not take it too personally.

Do you write in a notebook or on a computer?

When an idea feels like a good story to write, and (to be honest) I am not too distracted, I turn on my computer and start writing.

Were you always good at reading and writing?

Nope! It took me a bit longer than most of my classmates to be able to read and write well. However, I have always enjoyed books. I work hard for (mostly) good grades.

I want to be a writer too. How do I start?

The advice is: read, read, and read some more. Teachers say the more you read, the easier it is to write. If you want lots of practice, you can write short stories in a notebook.

Any advice for the kids reading?

Keep reading. Keep writing. Keep learning.