Today, I bring you an interview with children's author Sarah Linx. Sarah is an author with a passion for writing, animals, creativity, and teaching young children. Lets find out more.
Tell me about yourself
I was born and raised in Southern California growing up in a small family of three. Family , pets, and friends were always super important to me. I had the best elementary school teachers growing up and I was pretty sure I would become one. In the summers I attended summer camp and when I grew up, I got to work there as a camp counselor. I worked summers there for 15 years and eventually decided to study Early Childhood Education in college because the kids were like “why aren’t you a teacher?” “You should be a teacher”. I knew I was meant for that! I moved to FL from CA last year and it was a crazy move! I drove across the country for almost a week with two Pomeranians on my lap! Pets will always be like my little kids!
How long have you been writing?
I started writing creative poems and fiction stories in 4th grade for English language program projects. I was always super thrilled when the teacher hung them up in the room. I started doodling pictures that had to do with the story around them and eventually the teacher said “use another piece of paper” and I’ll put it up next to your story. When drawing a picture became the next assignment because of that, I knew I inspired it. Everyone was annoyed and I was gloating getting to draw and color for an hour in class.
In middle school we had to write an entire picture book manuscript on our own and draw the pictures. I used calendar pictures I cut out and construction paper shapes to form pictures. We had to read them to kindergarten classes.
What do you love about writing picture books for children?
I love writing for children because I get the chance to create something that is truly unique and something they haven’t seen before. The images look hand drawn and the children can and should ask if someone did it or what they liked, or made them laugh. There’s a lot of pressure in schools to learn phonics and reading at an early age now, and I want to remind children that by looking at books and talking about them you are still practicing your language skills, even if they don’t realize how. I love writing specifically for emerging readers because there is no pressure for them to read correctly. They can still know what’s going on from the pictures and identify words they can say and try spelling.
I will never forget the day a child was crying at summer camp because all her friends could read easy books or worksheets and she could not. They were given a sheet of paper with a camp song on it. I took her aside and asked her what was going on. She said she was afraid of having to pretend to read when she couldn’t. I said “if you know the song by heart just enjoy yourself anyway.” After some persuasion she calmed down and sang with her group. For the last four weeks of her summer program, I sat down with her in the mornings and kids asked “what are you doing?” They came and watched for a bit. After a few weeks the little girl could read my debut proof copy of my first book that I was going to self publish. Kids came running up to her and said things like “Are you reading? Is Sarah teaching you to read? Why? Is she your teacher? Are your parents paying her?” I laughed so hard and asked if they wanted to watch us. Another child said “Hey! When did you learn those skills?” I asked what skills? They said “To read! That’s not a part of our summer camp! That’s so cool! Is that why you sit together in the mornings now?” Sure enough they brought over more children and all of them started to high five the now reading girl who couldn’t do it a few weeks ago. What truly surprised me though was when a child said “weren’t you the one who was upset when you couldn’t read the camp song on the paper a while ago? Look at you now! Way to go, you are reading books which is way cooler!” They all started to high hive and hug me and her again.
I knew right then that my books were special. I created something unique. My books didn’t have to look perfect because no one is perfect. We learned something!
Did you have a favourite childhood book?
So many! Maurice Sendak’s 'Little Bear' and Amy Tan’s 'Sagwa the Chinese Siamese Cat'. They are still such a big part of me. Oh and got to love Eric Carle and Alexandra Day Carl series too.
Tell me about your latest release?
My latest book is called “A Home at Last.” It’s my third book and the story and pictures are a little more complex than my first two books, but that doesn’t take away from its purpose. This is the story of Mimi the Husky who is in search of her forever home after her family moves away and she is left at home. This book was my first middle school English project and I always wanted to publish it. Even though this was my first project it was the one I loved the most. Deep down I always wanted it to be a “real” book but figuring out how to make it happen was the hardest part. I’m also the most proud of it! My new book has a hardcover which is something I always wanted for my books. It feels amazing to see it out there.
What inspired it?
In my teens, I was was friends with the Peruvian family living across the street from us. They were so friendly and their children always played computer games with me and we talked about school and stuff. I was entering my teens. They were about to graduate high school, and one was about to move out and enlist in the army. Our neighborhood was pretty nice. Every place has those neighbors that aren’t the friendliest lot. A neighbor down the street had a Husky that was super energetic, athletic and beautiful. The family kept it on a chained leashed to the chair in the back yard and never walked it or played with it as far as we saw. George would sneak to the dogs home and feed it though the broken fence. The hole was large enough that the dog could escape and every day he had to bring the dog back with no reward and fix the wood. It happened so frequently that the dog looked really distressed. The weather could be 115 in the summer and 30 at night with heavy winds. Eventually the owner moved and abandoned the home and pup and fixed the fence. George was so bothered by it that he climbed the fence rescued the dog and took it in. They had a huge bond instantly. Magic. The dog knew he saved her. He would ride his skateboard and let the dog pull him. He would do his arm run and crawls and the dog would chase him. He named her Mimi.
Their parents were immigrants but their children were born here and they grew up so proud. The moment their oldest son George turned 18 he wanted to fight for our country. We begged him not to because we were afraid something would happen to him. His younger sister Cynthia and his mom took care of the dog after he left. Before he left I told him I was going to write Mimi’s story. Of course I changed it because the dog was clearly mistreated before and made the plot more child appropriate. There is a huge thing going on now where people see a breed in a movie or tv show and adopt it, then can’t handle the pet and leave it behind or do horrible things. Do the research and if you can’t commit to a pet, let those who will love it take it. I dedicated this book to George who lost his life fighting for our country. This one is for him!
You also illustrate your books. Have you always enjoyed drawing?
I always loved art as kid. Mostly I loved to color with a passion. I beat up my colored pencil sets pretty badly! My mom is an awesome artist and she would always give me critiques and pointers on the shapes and size perspective. I loved watching her draw. She liked to draw. I liked the color, so I would spent hours coloring her pictures. When I decided to draw my own pictures I did a lot of research online and began to practice. I wanted my pictures to have a child like feel so maybe someone would want to practice too! My third book taught be a lot of lessons on how you can always improve as an artist.
Why do you think books are so important for a child’s development?
Books are so important for a child’s development and even so now. They are needed more than ever. With the pressures of standardized testing even before kindergarten there is a lot of pressure to learn but reading needs to be fun, allow for a child to use their imagination, and build on skills they already have. Especially with tablets and streaming, electronics are all they want and they need reading skills to grow language and improve social conduct with one another. If children aren't getting a chance to read they will have more difficulties in the future. Children don’t have to read right away but enjoy the path of getting there and seeing those skills develop over time,
Are you working on anything at the moment?
I have a couple of projects that are unfinished that I want to explore. I have a series of pictures I drew to talk about summer camp rules. Someone read “Kitty’s First Day of School” and said it would be interesting to send Kitty to camp too. I did not think about that until someone mentioned it. There’s a lot of potential there!
I also want to do an alphabet book. Maybe a scavenger hunt where you have to find the hidden object.
What would your spirit animal be and why?
Spirit animal? Definitely a sea turtle. They are so majestic and elegant. I have so many things at home with sea turtle prints and pictures on them. Think of Moana and the sting ray. I imagine that as a sea turtle .
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
When I’m not writing, I am a preschool teacher at a private daycare. Very busy but rewarding! At home I love to spoil my pets with treats. My biggest hobby is paint by numbers. I can spend months on one of them but I often wind up creating my own paint because the paint is always dry, or runs out. Gives you a new challenge! I also enjoy beading and baking.
Thanks to Sarah for joining us on the blog. If you would like to check out her work, click on the links below: