In Where Are the Words by Jodi McKay and illustrated by Denise Holmes a cast of punctuation must come together to create a story.
We were lucky enough to sit down with Jodi to chat about Where Are the Words? , quirky routines, and favorite books.
Q: What was your inspiration for your title?
A: The title is usually not the first thing that comes to mind when I am writing, however, in the case of Where Are the Words? it was the only phrase running through my head as I sat staring at the computer with a bad case of writer’s block. After a while of repeating that question, it hit me that I should write a story about trying to find words for a story. The rest came together fairly quickly.
Q: What makes your book stand out?
A: There are not many books with punctuation marks as the main characters and none that have a period trying to write a story so I think that qualifies as pretty different from what’s out there. I also like that these characters talk as their punctuation roles dictate. It’s a fun twist that creates a great learning opportunity for kids that is hopefully exciting.
Q: Do you have a regular routine while creating a book?
A: Ideas hit me at the weirdest times, so I make sure I have a way to write them down before they are replaced with something even more odd. When it comes time to sit and write, my process has actually changed. I used to be a pantser, but now I find myself writing out on paper what I want the story to look like. I will start with the character and write down his or her personality traits so I can get to know him/her a little better. Then I write out what the character wants how that directs the plot. I try to keep a theme in mind as the plot unfolds so that the end is satisfying. After I write all of that, I get to work on the computer, finding the right words to create the full story. Unfortunately, part of my routine is editing along the way. I know, bad habit.
Q: What’s the easiest and hardest part of creating a book?
A: The easiest part for me so far has been finding ideas for new books. I read a lot, watch a ton of cartoons, and listen to my son who is known to say some funny stuff. When I get that spark for a story, the main character is not far behind so I’ve been lucky to have that come easily as well.
What I find to be hard when creating a book is making sure that all of the intricacies of a picture book work together. By that I mean, the voice of the narrator and character, the plot structure, language, the theme, and so on. If there is too much of one or not enough of another, it can throw the whole book off. This takes time, patience, and a good critique group. It’s hard, but when you get it right it feels great!
Q: Do you have any writing quirks?
A: To answer this, I will offer a glimpse into my “writing ready” mind by showing you how I set up my workspace.
I think this is fairly typical. A desk with a notebook for writing out ideas, coffee, a picture of my son’s smiling face, a pleasant scent, and a toy replica of Godzilla complete with classic scream. Oh, sorry, you asked for quirky. Nope, no quirks here.
Q: Are you working on any other projects?
A: Absolutely! I have a few that are in the revision rotation and a dozen more that are waiting to hop on that wheel. There are a couple in particular that I am quite fond of so fingers crossed that they become more than a file on my computer.
Q: What books did you like to read as a kid? What type of books do you like to read now?
A: When I was really young, I remember reading The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny over and over again. I loved that Peter was a little on the naughty side and I hate to admit it, but I found his disobedience relatable. Then I moved on to books like Where The Red Fern Grows, Island of The Blue Dolphins, and Skeleton Crew by Stephen King. I was a precocious child.
Now, I’ll read just about anything. I currently love The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard, and Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory. Of course picture books are right up there as well and I find time to read them every day whether it’s with my son or as a form of research. I’m open to recommendations!
Thanks so much, Jodi! To find out how Period, Exclamation Point, Question Mark, and the rest of the gang put together a story check out Where Are the Words on our website.